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Lights, Camera, Language!

Man and woman smiling with popcorn and 3D glasses in movie theatre

They say a picture is worth a thousand words… well just imagine the worth of millions of pictures in motion. Can movies and series be a helpful tool in learning a foreign language? We believe they can be!

Unfortunately, many students live in cities with little to no exposure to the language they are learning in the classroom. Watching films/series can be an entertaining way to incorporate the language in one’s day to day life. This article will highlight how to supplement your courses at inlingua Andorra with films and series and why this can be so beneficial.

Two hands on keyboard of a laptop with streaming site

Subtitles or no subtitles? That is the question!

The best thing about streaming sites like Netflix, HBO, Disney and Amazon is that most offer subtitles in a wide range of languages. Popular questions foreign language students ask about watching foreign films are “should I watch with subtitles on?” and “should the subtitles be in my native language or the language of the movie?”. Our answers are “Yes, and it depends”.

First and foremost, why should you watch with subtitles on? The answer is straight forward, this way you will work on the auditory and reading elements of the language simultaneously. Reading subtitles might also clarify any misunderstandings that might arise from tricky accents or vocabulary you are not familiar with.

Be careful not to overwhelm yourself and get discouraged by moving too quickly too soon. Just as novice cyclists begin with training wheels and rooky swimmers start with inflatable arm bands, those who are new to learning a foreign language can begin with subtitles in their native language with the audio in the original language and slowly (with enough time and after enough language classes) switch over to subtitles in the original language of the movie. The final step would be to remove the subtitles all together, this all depends on the level of the student. The more proficient you are in the language the less you will depend on subtitles.

Young lady watching a foreign film with subtitles while eating popcorn and smiling

Be an active viewer.

The same piece of advice we gave in our last blogpost: “I’m All Ears! 5 Ways Podcasts Can Help Learn a New Language”  about listening to podcasts applies to watching movies and series.  Remain active and take notes while watching. Being an active viewer means jotting down new vocabulary words, phrases, idiomatic expressions and other observations. 

Girl with white shirt, a pen, paper and head set in front of a laptop

Perhaps you got lost in a part of the movie/series or you did not quite understand what was said. Don’t be afraid to hit the rewind button or to slow down the speed of the film to better understand the context of what was said. On the other hand, if you have a more advanced level and what you are watching seems to lag a bit, think about speeding up what you are watching to a more challenging speed.

Don’t forget that repetition can be your best friend when learning a new language. Re-watch whatever it is you are watching as many times as you need. Try to produce the accent or intonation by imitating what you hear. Watch with a friend and discuss what you have just seen. Challenge yourself and write a review of the film/series. The opportunities before, while and after watching are limitless.

Fall in Love

One of the biggest benefits of watching foreign films and series while learning a foreign language is the exposure it gives the viewer to the culture of the country where the language is spoken, the people who speak the language, traditions, folklore, social life and so many aspects which enrich the learning experience.

Viewers hear songs, see celebrities and while the dialogue might be scripted, good films and series allow the viewer to hear the language in its most natural form. We break the fourth wall and hear conversations that you can imagine take place between native speaking family members, lovers, friends, work colleagues and so on. We are able to hear the intonation while seeing the facial expression of the speaker and understand the context of what is being said thanks to paraverbal communication.  We might hear idiomatic expressions and slang which we might not find in a textbook or classroom video. Films and series help immerse the viewer in the language and cultural understanding.

Bollywood actress on movie screen. Woman of Indian heritage dancing with traditional Indian attire

So, get that popcorn, a clean sheet of paper and a pen ready and turn on your favorite funny, scary, dramatic or adventurous movie/series in the language you are learning. Similar to what we said in our last blog post titled “I’m All Ears! 5 Ways Podcasts Can Help Learn a New Language” we highly recommend that watching foreign films supplement (not replace) an official language course. Nothing beats learning from a qualified instructor who incorporates presentation, practice and production (the inlingua method) in class.

Cartoon receptionist at the inlingua Andorra front desk in front of a computer with movie tickets

Did you know that inlingua Andorra has partnered up with Cinemes Illa? Come to our central school on Prat de la Creu, 30 to pick up your inlingua voucher which will allow you to see movies in the original version with subtitles for a special price.

If this blog was helpful, please make sure to share it with others and let us know which movie or series you are currently watching, or planning on watching to help you learn a foreign language.

By: Chris A.
Truca ara