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Do watching movies with subtitles help you to learn a language?


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One of the ways that I learned vocabulary in English was watching movies in English and reading the translation in the subtitles, I always thought that it helped me and my teacher always encouraged us to do so. After some time and practice I stopped using the translations as subtitles and started watching the movies with English subtitles so I could learn a little bit of orthography too. I think that is a fun way to learn a little bit more a language and to practice without knowing. I don't have English classes any more and I think that this has helped me to still have contact with English, what do you think?

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I think they can help anyone, but I won't generalize like that. In the beginning I was watching English and American movies with Serbian subtitles, but with years and my increased in knowledge, I slowly changed them to English. Around that time I also started to read books in English and that was immensely helpful as well. I've noticed recently that I rarely even put on subtitles when watching a movie or a TV show, now they just get distracting. Unless, of course, I'm watching The Walking Dead. Then I have to use subtitles because those people don't speak the way normal people do. 

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I think they can help anyone, but I won't generalize like that. In the beginning I was watching English and American movies with Serbian subtitles, but with years and my increased in knowledge, I slowly changed them to English. Around that time I also started to read books in English and that was immensely helpful as well. I've noticed recently that I rarely even put on subtitles when watching a movie or a TV show, now they just get distracting. Unless, of course, I'm watching The Walking Dead. Then I have to use subtitles because those people don't speak the way normal people do. 

Omg, i watch The walking dead too and i thought that i am the only one who can't understand most of the words the say...they don't speak normal english!

Anyway i use to watch telefilms with italian subs because they are almost all like The walking dead, so i can't understand what they say....but sometimes i watch some korean/Japanese drama with english subs because i don't find my language's subs or they doesn't exist, in general i prefer to watch movies with the original language because sometimes it sounds way better than mine. And yes, i think it helps a lot if you are learning a language :D

Edited by Mameha
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It helps a lot if you pay attention. I learned to speak and understand Spanish but when it comes to written part it does not help at all. Nevertheless it is useful but you need to watch a lot of Spanish soap operas to learn a bit...I even,sometimes, put on a n English subtitle when i watch an English movie. It can help if something was said to fast, because to be honest even when i see a movie in my language sometimes i do not understand something because it was to fast or i did not pay attention. I am all thumbs up for subtitles.

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I find subtitles in L1 to be of limited use, and I only use them at the very beginning of the learning process. Subtitles in L2, on the other had, are extremely useful, and I tend to use them well into the intermediate phases. But to become a good listener, you eventually need to listen to hundreds of hours without subtitles. So don't hang onto them for too long.

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Yes, I think subtitles really helps one learn a language. I used to watch Japanese dramas/shows with English subtitles and because of that, my listening skills were amazing (in comparison to my other skills). Now I watch Japanese dramas/shows with Japanese subtitles and it helps me learn new grammar/words. It's probably not the BEST method for studying a language, but it helps and it's a more relaxing way than studying from a textbook.

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Yes it helps but of course you should be interested in learning the language that you are targeting. Using the subtitles of a movie is a good way but there are definitely other ways to learn a language or two. One is to read books and then surf the net for articles that might help in learning the language that we so like to learn. Another is to learn from a teacher or attend a class to learn a language we prefer. We can also meet up with a native speaker, ask questions and learn from him or her. These are the many ways to learn a language where one is reading subtitles. Have fun everyone and keep learning, guys.

Edited by zurcminister
to add something and correct a misspelled word.
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Omg, i watch The walking dead too and i thought that i am the only one who can't understand most of the words the say...they don't speak normal english!

Anyway i use to watch telefilms with italian subs because they are almost all like The walking dead, so i can't understand what they say....but sometimes i watch some korean/Japanese drama with english subs because i don't find my language's subs or they doesn't exist, in general i prefer to watch movies with the original language because sometimes it sounds way better than mine. And yes, i think it helps a lot if you are learning a language :D

Their English is just... I see your point. :D

Anyway, do you try to watch an American or English show with English subtitles? Or do you watch them with Italian subtitles?

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Subtitles helped me with learning Spanish when I was younger. I can understand Spanish now thanks to watching too many telenovelas :) and following subtitles. But, I failed to learn how to write in Spanish, and even to read some particular words, though I am pretty intermediate when it comes to reading.

As for English language, in the beginning, the language acquisition was for me based on watching movies, thus being at least somehow exposed to a language. I used subtitles to learn the meanings of the words. 

Later, I studied the language in school. And about that time, I began reading books in English, and as someone mentioned above, it helped me immensely. It is one thing to watch a movie and learn the everyday spoken language, but it is an entirely different thing to read literature, and see what the written poetic words are like.

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Their English is just... I see your point. :D

Anyway, do you try to watch an American or English show with English subtitles? Or do you watch them with Italian subtitles?

It depends...i use to watch telefilms with my brother, so i watch them with Italian subs, it depends principally by the "urgence" :laugh: but anyway i understand the word they said in english after looking at italian subs.  But sometimes i watch American movies with english subs, and i even try to understand what they say without watching subs...but really it looks kinda difficult sometimes xD 

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For me, subtitles definitely help a lot. There are many French films where people speak so incredibly fast that I wouldn't be able to catch up if it were not for the subtitles. However, I don't see the point in having subtitles in my native language or English. I always go for the target language. If I feel brave enough to watch films, my vocabulary should be sufficient to cover up most of what is happening onscreen :)

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It depends...i use to watch telefilms with my brother, so i watch them with Italian subs, it depends principally by the "urgence" :laugh: but anyway i understand the word they said in english after looking at italian subs.  But sometimes i watch American movies with english subs, and i even try to understand what they say without watching subs...but really it looks kinda difficult sometimes xD 

I can see that, yeah. Keep watching with Italian subtitles then, and someday hopefully you'll realize you understand pretty much all of it. That's what happened to me. I kept insisting that I needed Serbian subtitles to watch stuff in English, then as an exercise I started forcing myself to switch to English subtitles and when I did that, I pretty much realized I'm almost at the point where I don't need them at all.

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I can see that, yeah. Keep watching with Italian subtitles then, and someday hopefully you'll realize you understand pretty much all of it. That's what happened to me. I kept insisting that I needed Serbian subtitles to watch stuff in English, then as an exercise I started forcing myself to switch to English subtitles and when I did that, I pretty much realized I'm almost at the point where I don't need them at all.

I will do it because i'm really depressed when i think that i know english enough but suddenly i think of American.... :laugh:

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Omg, i watch The walking dead too and i thought that i am the only one who can't understand most of the words the say...they don't speak normal english!

Anyway i use to watch telefilms with italian subs because they are almost all like The walking dead, so i can't understand what they say....but sometimes i watch some korean/Japanese drama with english subs because i don't find my language's subs or they doesn't exist, in general i prefer to watch movies with the original language because sometimes it sounds way better than mine. And yes, i think it helps a lot if you are learning a language :D

Have you been watching The walking dead on netflix? The subtitles don't make sense sometimes :=)

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It most definitely helped me a ton. I also started learning English by watching cartoons with subtitles. And since I loved watching cartoons and could never have enough of them, I started to get a good grasp on the English language at a young age. Later, I perfected it in school and high school, but watching movies and shows with subtitles definitely helps when starting out on learning a new language, for sure.

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Watching movies with subtitles can be effective but you have to be fluent in your own native language in order to read the subtitles quickly enough and apply your understanding. The fact that you are watching and listening to the movie it's  helping to develop the listening aspect of your foreign language neurons. Watching the action as the excitement builds also gives you an idea of what is being said in the audio that you're listening to.

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It helps a lot..at first I had to have the Czech subtitles to English speaking movies..than I switched to English subtitles..then I turned them off and I understand everything perfectly!!:)

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Yes, that one of the ways I link certain english words with words of a different languages, sometimes I'll try to actually look up the what the word is an another language and me and my sis will end up writing it down somewhere and continue saying it to each other (my bro sadly is uncomfortably with other languages) but none the less, using subtitles is a good assist to learning new languages... So yeah...

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This is pretty much the only way I learn things. Except, I will leave out subtitles altogether. I like to try to figure out what the people might be talking about. :P. It might not be the fastest way, but it's worked for me.

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I think it can definitely help, if you can concentrate and actually take in what you're watching LOL I've never personally tried it, mainly because I don't like subtitles or even badly dubbed movies. I think though, if I were doing this with the sole purpose of improving my language skills, I'd probably just keep watching the same movies over and over again, until I was sure I could do away with the subtitles.  Monotonous yes, but could prove very effective :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yes, definitely. I'd say start with a simple show first, like a sitcom. Lots of common words and they don't often use complicated terms. Then you can move to faster shows to improve your reading, and maybe after that you can try a more complicated show like "House", for example. I recommend TV series because it's much easier to follow the conversations when you are familiar with the voices of the characters.

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On ‎11‎/‎17‎/‎2015‎ ‎10‎:‎54‎:‎40‎, Wanda Kaishin said:

I find subtitles in L1 to be of limited use, and I only use them at the very beginning of the learning process. Subtitles in L2, on the other had, are extremely useful, and I tend to use them well into the intermediate phases. But to become a good listener, you eventually need to listen to hundreds of hours without subtitles. So don't hang onto them for too long.

I'm actually hard of hearing, so I even need the subtitles in my native language to understand what they are saying.  I don't use them as a crutch; I just can't hear what is said, so if I don't read it, I'm lost.

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