4

As addressed in questions like this, watching movies and shows in your target language can be a good way to practice your listening skills, while also being exposed to new vocabulary and spoken grammar in a language. I personally have been considering trying this technique with movies/shows I am already familiar with so that I don't need to catch every detail to follow the plot and can just focus on picking up what I can through the context I already know.

The main problem I foresee with this idea, and why I haven't tried it yet, is I have no way of verifying if any particular movie/show/production company have taken the time to accurately translate into the different languages. There are countless examples in media of awkward conjugation that you'd never hear in real conversation or even translations that are flat out wrong, and I worry as someone who doesn't have too extensive of a background in a language I may pick up bad habits or false information from a poorly translated work.


I know more specific info is preferred with Stack Exchange sites, so I will note I am currently working on learning German, and was considering starting with children/family based content such as Disney works (as I am familiar with those and know they are translated into several languages, not just my current target), but if there are any generalized resources or tips people know of those answers are also appreciated.

8
  • 1
    What has the translation got to do with learning the language? The translation method of language learning is mostly a very bad way to go. Don't use stuff that is translated. Use stuff in the original language, like German, and turn on the closed captions in German.
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 11, 2023 at 19:07
  • @Lambie while I understand anything that is written in the original language will be vastly better, I was hoping to start with movies that I am already familiar with as I don’t have a ton of vocabulary yet and I thought that if I already knew the plot I would have a better chance connecting the German words to what is happening. I understand that no translations are going to be perfect but some are good enough that people in other countries will still watch and enjoy those translated movies despite them having originally been written in English.
    – gabbo1092
    Commented Feb 12, 2023 at 17:19
  • 2
    Please read this blog post for why translation does not work for learning a language: learnjam.com/translation-doesnt-teach-language
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 12, 2023 at 18:56
  • 2
    @Lambie I still fully intend to watch the movie in German with German close-captions, I just was interested in watching a movie that I already knew that happened to be originally written in English. If it were a movie I had never seen and I’m watching it in German with German CC I’m not sure if be able to follow well enough to really learn much, and thought that if I knew the plot I would better be able to comprehend their German words as I would know roughly what is being conveyed and could use the known context to fill in the gaps to understand the unknown words.
    – gabbo1092
    Commented Feb 12, 2023 at 23:21
  • 1
    Personally, as a learner, I found watching old Star Trek series (e.g. DS9, Voyager) in German to be very useful, since I know those shows. German voice acting is quite good, but it should be noted that the voice actors are making trade-offs in accuracy to make their native language phrase more natural and to make it match the timing of the original actors. Usually, if you read the subtitles (e.g. German), the translation is more accurate, but it won't match the dubbing version for the same reason -- the writers of the captions are making their own trade-offs to make it easier (faster) to read.
    – Brandin
    Commented Mar 23, 2023 at 10:08

2 Answers 2

2

Having German as my native langugage, you might find my personal experiences useful, regarding both the quality of German movie/show dubbing as well as the usefulness for language learning.

Regarding movies/shows dubbed in German, the vast majority uses correct expressions, just as native speakers would do. No surprise, the dubbing is done by native speakers, so they wouldn't create awkward dialogs (or at least not more awkward than the original ones).

But of course, characters in movies might not be your role models, so the way they act and speak might not match your personality. E.g. learning German from the villain of some B-movie or from Donald Duck might not be a good idea unless you want to sound like such a weirdo.

Regarding the exactness of translations, you'll find that roughly the same ideas are conveyed, but the dubbed version never is as exact as you'd expect it in e.g. literature. Dubbing aims to be lip-synchronous, so that the audio more or less matches the lips movement you see. And this makes exact translations impossible.

Personally, I have used dubbed versions of my favorite shows when learning foreign languages (e.g. the Polish version of StarTrek Voyager), and it was both fun and helpful.

My recommendation is to go ahead, select some movies or shows that you know to use an acceptable language level, and watch the German-dubbed versions.

8
  • Native speakers with no training in translation can make terrible mistakes when dubbing. And if you are trying to learn German, why would you watch something dubbed in German instead of something originally in German? Dubbing depends on the number of spaces allocated for it. Not on lips synching.
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 15, 2023 at 16:47
  • @Lambie why would you watch something dubbed in German instead of something originally in German? - because if you do only German original at some time you get fed up
    – Andra
    Commented Apr 17, 2023 at 20:13
  • @Andra I have no idea what you are trying to say. In trying to learn a language, any language at all, I would only be interested in watching works in the that language.
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 18, 2023 at 12:31
  • @Lambie People are different. As I said in my answer, I enjoyed watching a Polish-dubbed version of StarTrek Voyager. Commented Apr 18, 2023 at 15:01
  • 1
    @Lambie Additionally, if you had typed up an answer explaining either your personal experiences and/or attached the research you are aware of, I and others could have engaged with it more and possibly preferred yours over this answer. But as it stands with only comments stating your thoughts on this subject matter there is really no truly impactful way to engage with your statements beyond and upvote to a comments that tend to get buried.
    – gabbo1092
    Commented Jun 26, 2023 at 18:09
-3

One potential solution is to hire a freelance translator on upwork.com or a similair such website.

If you download the movie file subtitles written in German (Deutsch), you can send the subtitles to a friend or freelance translator who is fluent in Deutsch.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.