The Role of Subtitles in Learning a New Language

Subtitles have revolutionized the way we now consume international content. From movies and TV shows to songs and culture, subtitles have become one of the easiest, fastest, and most convenient ways to digest foreign information.

It is as simple as selecting a streaming platform of your choice, a foreign film that is excellent 2-hour entertainment, and enabling the subtitles - a mode of multimedia translation that allows you to enjoy a different language while still comprehending every bit of information shared!

It is evident that without actually hearing, seeing, and exploring culture, trying to learn a new language is difficult. The convenience and ease of subtitles have resulted in the wide and varied use of films and television series in aiding foreign language training. These thoughtfully directed forms of entertainment allow viewers to understand the lifestyle, traditions, and customs of the culture of their interest. By simply switching on subtitles created using professional translation services, viewers are now transported to a world that is significantly different from theirs, allowing them to experience a culture and absorb exposure to a new language.

How do Subtitles Help in Learning a New Language?

Given that the end goal of language learning is to be able to understand conversations with native speakers, budding linguists must comprehend the real speech of natives. Before the early 20th century, however, this would have been a mean feat to accomplish - being able to interact with natives and listen to a language of interest being used conversationally. Things, however, are looking significantly better now!

Subtitles are now being employed to create comprehensible material for beginners, allowing them to learn a new language easily and efficiently. It may seem daunting at first - turning on authentic foreign content even if you have learned the language for very little time.

If instead, students opt to watch subtitled content, it becomes significantly easier to make the transition from theory to audio-visual comprehension of a new language. Taking a leaf from BTS’s leader RM and learning a new language through subtitles, can work to provide significant benefits to you!

How then, you may ask, can we use subtitles to learn a new language?

Here’s how!

1. Start with watching content in the foreign language, and subtitles in English.

Most language learners often resort to English subtitles to learn a new language - be it Korean from K-Dramas or Japanese from anime. The benefit of watching foreign content with English subtitles is that the learner can easily understand the material. This even includes those who are not too proficient at the language being discussed.

Listening to foreign content with English subtitles provides significant exposure to the speaking patterns and pronunciations of native speakers. This results in familiarization and the learner associating meaning to specific words in the foreign language.

This is ideally one of the best ways to begin the journey of adding a new language, with as many as 35% of students resorting to the closed captions for better language comprehension.

2. Go one step ahead and switch on subtitles in the same language as the content of the foreign media

This is the next step to using subtitles and consequently gaining significant insights into the speech and writing behaviors of foreign languages. One of the most recognized benefits of subtitling is that there is a wide range of languages to choose from, including the original language of the media.

By aligning the subtitles with the speech in the film, students begin learning how to improve their speech and recognition of foreign words. The way this happens is simple - you begin associating the words individually with their pronunciation.

With subtitles, however, it becomes easier to break down speech into a series of words and sentences, with each word being spelled out clearly in the foreign language of interest.

3. Test your abilities with a video in English and subtitles in a foreign language

If you are looking to enjoy your Sunday afternoon and still try a new skill, try a relaxed subtitling technique of watching your favorite English shows in the foreign language of your choice.

This works to improve comprehension from reading, allowing you to even go ahead and pick up an occasional word or two to add to your vocabulary! Talk about combining entertainment with education, and sharpening your language learning skills along the way!

We at Language Services Bureau recognize how important it is to be able to communicate your content to a wide and varied audience. This is precisely why we offer corporate language training as well as multimedia translation services for a range of audio-visual content. From subtitles, audiovisual translation, dubbing, voice-overs, and narrations - we have the solution to all of your language translation needs!

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The time it takes to learn a language depends on what you want to do with it– here is a great article about language learning and the kind of expectations you can set about the time required for the same!

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