By Paulo Dantas

Learning a new language can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but maintaining motivation throughout the process can be challenging. One effective way to enhance motivation in language learning is by incorporating movies into the learning journey. This blog post will explore how using movies can positively impact motivation, drawing from key concepts such as self-efficacy, intrinsic motivation, and the importance of success. 

Watching movies in the target language can contribute to the development of self-efficacy, an individual’s belief in their ability to succeed in a specific situation (Bandura, 1977). As language learners engage with authentic content and gradually understand more of the language used in movies, they gain confidence in their language skills. This increased self-efficacy can motivate learners to take on more challenging tasks and face difficulties (Schunk, 1991). 

Movies also have the potential to stimulate intrinsic motivation, which arises within an individual and is driven by genuine interest and enjoyment (Ryan & Deci, 2000). When language learners watch movies they find engaging and entertaining, they are more likely to associate positive emotions with the learning process. This intrinsic motivation can be more powerful and sustainable than extrinsic motivation, which relies on external rewards or consequences. By carefully selecting movies that align with learners’ interests and preferences, educators can foster intrinsic motivation and avoid the pitfalls of the “overjustification” hypothesis, which suggests that excessive external rewards can undermine intrinsic motivation (Lepper, Greene, & Nisbett, 1973). 

Furthermore, movies provide language learners with opportunities for success, which is crucial for maintaining motivation. As learners comprehend more of the language used in films and recognize their progress, they experience a sense of achievement. No matter how small, these successes contribute to a positive feedback loop that reinforces motivation (Schunk, 1991). Educators can support this process by selecting movies with appropriate language levels, providing scaffolding and support when needed, and encouraging learners to celebrate their progress.

In addition to the motivational benefits, using movies in language learning offers exposure to authentic language use, cultural context, and nonverbal communication (Ismaili, 2013). This immersive experience can enhance learners’ overall language proficiency and cultural understanding, further contributing to their motivation and engagement. 

In conclusion, incorporating movies into language learning can have a powerful, positive impact on motivation. By promoting self-efficacy, fostering intrinsic motivation, and providing opportunities for success, movies can create an engaging and rewarding learning experience. Educators and language learners alike can harness the power of movies to boost motivation and achieve their language learning goals. 


Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84(2), 191-215. 

Ismaili, M. (2013). The effectiveness of using movies in the EFL classroom: A study conducted at South East European University. Academic Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, 2(4), 121-132. 

Lepper, M. R., Greene, D., & Nisbett, R. E. (1973). Undermining children’s intrinsic interest with extrinsic reward: A test of the “overjustification” hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 28(1), 129-137. 

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: Classic definitions and new directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25(1), 54-67. 

Schunk, D. H. (1991). Self-efficacy and academic motivation. Educational Psychologist, 26(3-4), 207-231. 

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