Let's do subtitles!

I think part of the long term development plan for Duolingo needs to include video subtitles. My experience is that listening to native speakers is vital to learning a language on more than an academic level. There would be both a dictation and translation component, probably not done at the same time. Can you imagine a little drop down menu where you could get subtitles in any language for any YouTube video?

December 5, 2012


This idea is AWESOME! Imagine being able to do it with a very short scene of a memorable movie, for instance. First you hear it, then you have to type in what they said. For me, one of the most difficult things on learning a language is going from knowing "the rules" and some vocabulary to actually understand native speakers. I am Spanish, using English in daily life for years, and still have some problems to understand people from the UK.

December 6, 2012

You could take a look at this extension we made for studying languages with Netflix:

October 25, 2018

It does exist on YuTube already. Sometimes you have a "CC" button to the left of the quality button (the weel).

You can take a look on this vidéo for instance : (A very smart speech by the way :) )

How it works : YouTube transforms the audio to text, this is for the native language of the vidéo.

Here is a blog post to explain the support of 6 european language :

Then, this audio caption is automatically translated to the desired language.

And finally the crowd can improve the translations.

I agree that it can be a huge value add for DuoLingo to have this feature. I read on quora that to learn a language, it is the best way to listen to a movie and repeat the sentences loud.

But As Luis already worked with Google (ReCaptcha), I wouldn't be surprise that it is already in the pipe :)

December 7, 2012

This Quora thread is interesting. I'm going to try the repetition technique. Thanks for posting!

December 8, 2012

Just check , It is a great project and people are willingly translating subtitles of many serials and movies, maybe Duolingo and Viki can work together. It would be so nice!

December 15, 2012

Yes, videos spread a lot faster than books and their only limit is that spoken language is more difficult than written words ... worth a try

December 15, 2012

This is pretty neat. I wonder how accurate their translations are?

December 15, 2012

Each channel has an admin who is in charge of all other languages' admins. And each languages' admin is checking his/her subbers and segmenters. Segmenting and subbing interfaces are easily manageable by anyone. It's pretty easy to translate while watching the show, without stopping the video. The community is really paying attention (mostly consists of fans of the shows or actors) to translate properly and on time. I have never experienced any misunderstandings even about the specific cultural phrases or figurative meanings. They give explanations in parenthesis for idioms. Especially, popular shows have pretty accurate translation, because native speakers are translating their countries' shows to English, then other languages' teams rely on those subtitles. But of course all the system relies on its volunteer subbers. If someone sees a wrong translation, he/she can correct it. And if someone is really bad at translating, channel admin can ban him/her from translating. I guess admins can lock completely true translated lines. But there isn't any strong true/wrong voting system like we have here.

December 15, 2012

This is only for Korean and Taiwanese movies would be amazing to see some site like that but more internationally oriented

July 8, 2013

Ah yes, before the time that I wrote that comment and before its new design, Viki was claiming that it will include more shows and movies from around the world. But now it is obvious that they are focused on Korean and Taiwanese shows. However, considering that all shows are translated in English, it can still be useful for users who are into such kind of entertainment.

And yes, it would be wonderful to have a more internationally oriented website with the same purpose. I guess it is all about copyright issues which was discussed in Viki's discussion forums. Viki aimed to include shows from diverse nations but only copyrights of Korean shows are easier to deal with.

July 8, 2013

I am thinking that there are a lot of video on the net that can't circulate because of language barriers. Subtitles alone could help a lot and subtitles could be translated ... Difficult? Yes A lot of videos are amateurish and have bad sound quality but there is a lot of videos (speeches actually) produced by professors or universities for educational purposes that could be a lot more clear to transcribe. Duo could maybe set up his YouTube channel with material like this

December 6, 2012

We could even start by watching embedded videos from Youtube, and editing their automatically generated subtitles. If only Google would let Duolingo read and edit them.

December 11, 2012

I believe I suggested this about a month ago, and Luis said that "we're working on this." However, I wouldn't be surprised if this feature was a long way off. That said, I still think that it is an excellent suggestion, given that the robotic speech from the lessons can only improve one's accent so far...

December 12, 2012

Great minds think alike!

December 12, 2012

I can attest to my low listening comprehension skill at this point in learning Spanish. I always have to use the slower button. Perhaps someone further up the learning scale could handle it.

December 6, 2012

That could be a great idea: it is true that only advanced learners or native speakers can understand (and write down) the speech, but in my opinion some tool should be developed also for them.Nowadays Duo is mainly for beginners , but tomorrow?

December 6, 2012

I have been thinking on the same lines and trying to watch small videos with subtitles. I can understand the written word much better and I find I can understand only a little of what is spoken.Not to say that I understand the written language perfectly.

December 10, 2012

Completely agree. Having more avenues for language immersion is good.

January 4, 2013

How about collaboration with Ted Translations? TED transcripts could be submitted to Duolingo for translation by the users.

April 3, 2013

I think that would be cool! ( is pretty cool, too.

February 12, 2013

Hi everyone, this is a very good idea here ! Video would be nice, even if I'm sure they already have an eye on it in duolingo's team

September 2, 2013
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