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Using Subtitles to Learn a New Language

can one learn a language by watching subtitled films?

Yes, to put it briefly. Subtitles are an effective method of reinforcing foreign language learning, much like closed captions are for ESL students.

Among their many advantages, subtitles offer a novel approach to language comprehension. In fact, a study conducted by Holger Mitterer (Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics) and James McQueen confirms that using subtitles as a supplement to regular studying helps students learn a language more quickly.

One of the key findings of this study was that simultaneously hearing and reading a foreign language improves phonetic comprehension. Moreover, it facilitates familiarity with the language's vocabulary and sounds.

what other advantages are there to watching movies with subtitles?

Observing films with subtitles activated:

  • Boosts reading speed and listening comprehension
  • Expands lexicon
  • Increases vocabulary and grammar
  • Aids in visualizing a foreign language.
  • Reading Speed and Listening Comprehension Are Both Improved by Subtitles.
  • One of the most difficult aspects of learning a new language is the ability to comprehend and make sense of what you read and hear. When a native speaker speaks, the sound units of speech are frequently indistinguishable to the untrained ear due to the rapid connection between them.

Contrary to language learning apps and foreign language classes, which typically slow down the speaking rate, movies with subtitles play at the same rate as a normal conversation. This may seem swift to new language learners. The advantage of this is that it will enhance your listening comprehension and help you to read faster.

Expand Your Vocabulary With Subtitles

One of the greatest advantages of watching foreign films is the language improvement that can be achieved. You will not only learn an entirely new set of conversational phrases and idioms, but also encounter them in context. Typically, this is difficult to master and requires time spent conversing with speakers of the target language. This learning process can be sped up by watching foreign films with subtitles.

To master new vocabulary, repeat out loud movie lines and common phrases. This will help you sound more assured and natural when speaking over time.

Word Recognition and Grammar Are Improved by Subtitles

While you may know one way to say common words such as lunch or hotel, movies expose you to alternative expressions. Some of which may be more common than the traditional word you learned. How so? More often than not, foreign films employ slang terms that are common among native speakers. Reading subtitles is a wonderful way for viewers to increase their vocabulary.

Grammar can also be improved by reading subtitles while watching a film. Utilize the pause button and pause to read the captions on the screen. This enables language learners to recognize and comprehend verb types, tenses, and phrases. This unconventional perspective enhances overall comprehension of a foreign language.

The films' visual nature adds to their impact.

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then movies are worth a million. In particular when it comes to language learning. The visual component of film enhances both listening comprehension and vocabulary recall. In addition to acquiring new vocabulary, you are also provided with an image to associate with each word. This indicates that individuals learn more when watching a film with subtitles as opposed to just listening to the audio.

The motivation that films provide to language learners is another aspect of their visual nature. A movie feels like a treat when compared to studying conjugation flashcards.

Feeling motivated to learn a new language with the help of subtitles? Here are the steps to take immediately.

Start out by enabling subtitles while the audio is still in your native language. The practice improves word recognition. Once you feel more comfortable, you can switch the audio to the same language as the subtitles. This will be of great assistance in reinforcing the preceding benefit.

View entertaining, brief videos. Why?

Typically, the vocabulary in these videos is less difficult. Also, a three-minute YouTube short can feel much less daunting than a feature-length film. Despite the fact that these videos are not feature-length films, you will still receive all of the benefits listed above.

Turn on subtitles for the Netflix binge-watching series you are currently watching. Why not take advantage of the time you're already devoting to this series by learning something?

Have you memorized a particular television program or film? Turn on subtitles and rewatch the videos with them on. This will make it easier to read and comprehend the subtitles, as you already have a general understanding of the plot.


Identify an entertaining film and watch it repeatedly until you can mimic the actors' dialogue. Many language learners have found success with this method.

Select an engaging segment from the film or television program. Initially, observe it and take in the cultural atmosphere. Then, rewatch it, but this time pay particular attention to the dialogue. Notate the phrases that have meaning for you.


Subtitles are a fun, non-traditional method of truly immersing oneself in a new language. Stay tuned for our follow-up post on the best Netflix movies and television shows for language learning.