I tried watching a few Chinese movie to improve my listening skill, but I wonder whether I should put more focus on following the subtitle or the content of the movie.

When I put more focus on following the subtitle, I soon find it boring to watch the movie as I cannot see the motion that much. But when I keep focusing on the content, I don't understand what the characters are saying, and it is also fast enough that I find it boring to keep watching, as I don't understand the content, anyway.

The subtitle is on Mandarin Chinese, not any others including my native languages.

1 Answer 1


From personal experience:

When learning Polish, I watched TV shows a lot. Seeing the people acting and hearing what they said helped to create a good natural association between words/sentences and situations.

Slowly my listening skills improved. Even with Polish where written and spoken language are very close to one another, trying to read the subtitles hadn't helped me, but instead distracted me.

Of course, there were situations where I didn't get the meaning, and if I felt that specific dialog to be important for the storyline, I rewound the tape (yes, it was video tape that time) and listened again.

I'd only resort to subtitles if even after repeated listening, I wouldn't get the meaning. I'd then freeze the vidoe, take my time understanding the text, rewind the scene, and listen again, now knowing what to expect.

By the way, I'd expect subtitle text to be quite different from the spoken dialog - at least in Germany, movie subtitles are more like summaries than exact transcripts.

And if watching gets boring, choose a different movie ;-).

  • Thanks but the problem is that I soon get bored as I’m not seeing the content, and the same happens on all the movies I watched. IOW I get bored not because the content itself is boring but because I can’t watch the content.
    – Blaszard
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 16:46

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