Easy Trick for Effectively Learning a Language with Subtitles


In one of our recent posts we talked about the importance of immersing yourself into the language you want to learn. Besides actually moving to a country in which your target language is spoken there are of course other possibilities to get your dose of language input.

A method often discussed is learning a language with subtitles. There are basically two camps, one that promotes this learning style, the other saying that learning with subtitles is actually counterproductive, the main issue being that reading and listening use different parts of the brain which then cancels out the learning process. To learn more about this, you might want to check out a post on the English Attack! blog which explains why the edutainment startup is not using subtitles in their videos.

I think one of the biggest misconceptions in trying to learn a language through foreign language movies and subtitles is that people watch movies they haven’t seen before. This leads to the problem that you probably won’t understand a lot and makes watching the movie a pretty stressful experience. Why not watch a movie that you already know and love?

Most people have a personal collection of movies or TV series on DVD that they watch more than once. And I am sure you also have a couple of favorites where you can speak along with the actors in key scenes of the movie, right? So why not switch to the language you want to learn next time you watch Lord of the Rings, The Godfather or Seinfeld? You already know the story by heart so you won’t feel that you are missing something because you don’t understand let’s say French.

Instead you can focus on the language spoken in the movie and watch out what your favorite scene sounds like in French. Then as kind of a backup you can also display the subtitle in French but make sure you focus on the spoken language in the movie. This way you can always check back in case you did not understand a scene or sentence in the film entirely.

Picture by philld