I'd like to know whether there is any known benefits or drawbacks in watching movies with subtitles, considering movies spoken in a language you're learning.

I mean, subtitles in the movie language itself, or in the speaker's native language, considering different levels of proficiency in the learning language.

2 Answers 2


When subs are in one's native language, then subtitles are useful to understand the scenario and to some extent the dialog. But I think it is a problem to read one language while listening to another (anyway I can't).

What I do is watch the movie without subtitles first, and try to understand as much as I can. Then go back and watch it with the subtitles, more to better understand what is happening and being said, to help fill in what I missed the first time.

Then watch it the third time (and times after that). Have the subtitles on screen, but don't read them unless you get to something you don't understand. Then you can pause and translate as needed.

And gradually wean yourself off of the subs.

When subs are in the learning language, I think the only benefit would be comprehension in that language (text vs. spoken). Speech patterns/accent etc. can make the spoken dialog difficult to make out. If that is the case, then same language subs can be useful. But if you come across vocabulary or grammar you don't understand, you will still have to look it up to further your learning.


There will never be drawbacks if you use subtitles. By using them you also learn to read fast. Subtitles also have the advantage that you can read the words that are spoken, which can be very useful in languages that don't write words as they pronounce them (like French). So you can pause and look them up.

My personal experience with subtitles is that I started watching movies in English with Italian subtitles, then after a bit I switched to English audio and English subtitles and now I can watch almost any movie with just the English audio and I can understand almost everything.

So, my recommendation is to watch a movie in the language you're learning using subtitles in your native language (to understand what's going on), them moving to subtitles in that language and when you feel you can understand a lot, move to just watching the movie in the language you're learning.

Remember: understanding everything in a movie will take months if not years, so be patient and persistent.

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