Improving your business English doesn’t have to be taxing. There are many ways to learn while you relax and do something you enjoy, like watching TV or a good movie. There are loads of examples of business-themed TV series’ and films which are perfect for expanding your business vocabulary, improving pronunciation and listening skills.
Now you can sit in front of the screen with your feet up, get the popcorn and call it study time! Here are some of the best TV programmes and movies with a business theme to entertain and educate.
1. House of Cards
House of Cards is a Netflix original series centered around Frank Underwood, played by Hollywood actor Kevin Spacey. Frank is a ruthless and ambitious Democratic senator, who’s been looked over for the promotion he waited for his whole career. The series follows his plans for revenge and his quest to make it to the top, at all costs.
This gripping story will have you hooked from the very first episode. The show is suitable for all levels of language learners, as the dialogue isn’t too fast-paced. It’s great for picking up every day legal, political, and business terms used throughout the US.
2. Wall Street
Wall Street is a classic film from 1987 starring Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen. The movie offers gripping drama, amazing performances and captivating dialogue – everything a business English learner could ever want!
Douglas plays the ruthless corporate raider, Gordon Gekko, who acts as mentor to the young, ambitious stockbroker, Bud Fox, played by Charlie Sheen. The plot twists and turns as they delve deeper into the world of illegal trading.
It’s a thrilling film with great examples of business phrases and finance and commerce terms.
3. The Social Network
The Social Network is a film based on the real-life story of Mark Zuckerberg, creator and owner of Facebook. The film, which won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay is a rich mix of language from everyday conversation to the more legal and corporate speech of contemporary, modern business.
If you work in a Start-Up business as a young entrepreneur, or in the Dot Com industry then this is the one to watch!
4. Mad Men
Mad Men is an award-winning period drama set in the 1960s. The show was hugely popular and ran for seven seasons, so you have lots of material to entertain and learn from!
Mad Men depicts the life and times at a successful advertising agency, Sterling Cooper. The show’s main character is the smooth-talking Don Draper, the agency’s star advertising executive.
The show offers many examples of business English, from pitching new ideas to colleagues and clients, and vocabulary for business negotiations and marketing techniques.
5. Jerry Maguire
This 90s cult classic has something for everyone – sports, business, comedy and romance. Jerry Maguire (played by Tom Cruise) is a big-shot sports agent who has a professional and moral epiphany. He believes that the huge company he works for should take fewer clients. That doesn’t go down well, and he’s immediately fired. The plot of the film focuses on the challenges he faces as he tries to live out his own philosophy.
The film is wonderfully endearing and entertaining, but more than that, it’s also great for business slang and negotiation vocabulary.
6. Office Space
If you like the comedy genre, then Office Space will be right up your street. While many business based movies or TV series focus on the high-flying world of executives and CEOs, Office Space takes a different approach.
Office Space is set in a mundane office which is going through a company restructure, causing some fear and frustration amongst its employees. Computer programmer, Peter Gibbons and his two sidekicks hate their jobs. They devise a cunning plan to get revenge on their greedy bosses.
The film pokes fun at office politics which is hilarious but also gives you some great business idioms which are used in everyday office life.
This American TV drama series is perfect for anyone working in the legal field. The plot focuses on the extraordinary life of Mike Ross, who lands himself a dream job as an associate at a top New York law firm. But, Mike Ross has a couple of skeletons in the closet…he’s on the run from a drug deal gone bad, and he never actually attended law school.
The award-winning series features fast-talking lawyers and is packed full of legal jargon and technical vocabulary. It’s a good idea to start off watching with subtitles. As you get more comfortable with the language you’ll soon understand everything and can switch the subtitles off.
8. Up in The Air
Up in The Air takes a look at that part of business life which no one really likes to do, or to experience. If you have ever been fired or ‘let go’ from a position, or if you’ve ever been the one doing the firing– you’ll know that neither is very pleasant.
Up in the Air follows Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) and his colleague Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick), as they go about their business of “downsizing”– or firing people. They travel all across the United States, visiting a variety of office, businesses and companies, firing as they go. It’s a touching story, with great performances and is perfect if you are looking for an example of Human Resources vocabulary.
9. The Office
The great thing about this TV show is that whether you are learning British or American English, this show is in both. The original programme was first aired in the UK in 2001 and was so popular, they made a US version in 2005. Whichever one you choose, both are great fun!
The Office a ‘mockumentary’, a ‘mock’ or fake documentary which makes fun of its subject. Its realistic portrayal of office life and the interesting characters makes it a worthwhile watch!
The show is also great for learning office etiquette through the helpless character of the regional boss, David Brent (UK) / Michael Scott (US). You’ll be laughing and cringing at his office antics, and he’s the perfect example of what not to do in the workplace!
Watch and Learn
These are just a small selection of the business-based TV series and movies out there which can help you improve your business English. Of course, there are many other resources that you can use. To discover a wide variety of podcasts, videos and listening materials, sign up to the Business English Community today!