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Movies with or without subtitles?

I would like to get some opinion about the use of subtitles in movies for learning a language. This question applies to an intermediate learner, which means that even though he cannot understand every words being said, he still catches enough to follow the storyline. Of courses, I am talking about using the subtitles in the targeted language.

Also, it appears that the subtitles in most movies dubbed in Spanish do not perfectly match the audio. In that particular case, what is your opinion on using subtitles?

November 28, 2017



First, you need to decide which skill you wish to improve. I think that watching with subtitles is like a mixture of reading and listening practice, since most people just revert to reading everything when they're on there. At least that's my experience. When you don't have to try as hard, and the words are there for you to read, it's not doing so much to improve your listening skills. For me, the subtitles always help me better understand what's being said, but I also become dependent on them and it can make it more difficult when faced with a situation (such as speaking in real life) that does not have the subtitles, haha. ^^; I like to think of the subtitles as training wheels on a bicycle... they're great to help you at first, when you aren't so good, but later on you'll want to take those training wheels off and learn how to manage without them. One of the things I do to help is to watch the program first with the subtitles, and then later watch it again without them. That way, my brain already knows the general plot and there isn't so much pressure to "know what's going on," rather, the second time I can just listen and focus on actually processing the language. I hope this helps, and good luck! :)


brilliant answer, I wasn't sure what to recommend or why. You totally cleared it up!


I think you can use them sometimes. Hope you're having a great day!!!


If you want to improve listening skills, don't use subtitles. Otherwise you're only improving your reading comprehension.


Pick some show with subtitles and watch an episode with subs in that language....then without them. :)


Personally, I feel like watching movies or shows in the target language with subs in the target language is by far the most efficient way of continuing once you're an intermediate. It's the sole reason I went from being an English D student who could barely express themself in English to fluency. The subtitles not only help you understand every word (including weird accents - like Scottish, my past self's worst enemy) and thus help you fully enjoy the movie, they also improve your spelling which is why I would even recommend full captions like those offered for the hard of hearing as they teach you the names and spellings of the sounds that occur during the movie, too. I still do it with English. As for the subs not matching the audio, I totally get that, this is something that actually bothers me a lot as it is also a common problem with captions for English movies. However, if you have the chance, there are certain sites that offer subtitles that can be rated by the community, meaning the high rated ones tend to be accurate. Another good source of accurate subtitles in my experience are Netflix Originals. I believe they actually take the subtitles from the scripts, thus ensuring the accuracy. Although I have to admit I've only tried it in English so far, I have no idea how accurate the Spanish subs are as I do not speak Spanish. Perhaps someone else can comment on this?


You should watch with subtitles in the language

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