In this article called “Learning Italian with movies: subtitles yes, subtitles no”, I am going to talk about watching movies and TV series in Italian, focusing on subtitles. Is it better to use the subtitles or not? And in case you decide to use them, in which language should you set them? Your native language or your target language? Well, keep reading this article (or listen to it) because I have answered all these questions for you!

To combine business with pleasure

How many of you enjoy watching movies and TV series? How many of you would like to watch films in Italian? Have you tried, but despite your efforts, were not able to understand as much, or did you not even try to undertake this task?

If you are passionate about cinema, watching films in italian (or in whichever language you are learning), you can combine business and pleasure in the most perfect way. All whilst improving your listening comprehension and doing an activity that you enjoy.

As I previously mentioned in my article Watching Italian movies, the choice between films or TV series is something personal that depends only on you. In general, a part of you will prefer a good TV series, which you can get passionate about day after day, getting in tune with the characters and identifying with them; others, on the other hand, will prefer to see a movie that is close to their heart or fits their interests, of which they may immediately know the ending.

In the past few days, I thought about this, and I realized that it is a personal choice. If, a couple of years ago, I would choose a TV series, now, I no longer have the patience or the perseverance to watch so many episodes of the same series. Instead, I prefer to spend an hour and a half or two watching a movie from beginning to end.

I will answer the second question first. If you use subtitles, please abandon the idea of reading them in your native language: set them in Italian or in the language you wish to learn. Some of you may object: “But if I saw a movie in Italian, with Italian subtitles, I would understand little or nothing!”. It is possible, but remember: without commitment and effort there is no improvement. If you use subtitles in your language you will end up reading everything, and you will no longer pay attention to dialogues. In fact, it will only become background noise.

It depends on what? In my opinion, you should use subtitles in Italian if you have been studying this language for a short time, a few weeks or a few months. In this case, the subtitles will be a great support. Even if you do not understand 100% of what you read, they will give you some assistance. Through these subtitles, you can get a better idea of what the characters are saying.

If you have already reached an advanced level, try to watch the movies without subtitles. I know very well that doing this, especially at the beginning, will not be easy; but in this way, the Italian sounds will become more and more familiar, and you will gradually focus more and more on them.

If after this test, you realize that what you can understand is almost zero, don’t panic: you can always take a step back and use the subtitles again. When you feel a little more confident and ready to get to the next level, you can definitely eliminate them.

Two more tips

I want to give you two more tips. First of all, don’t be hasty, take your time, and you will see that the results will come. And second, choose movies or TV series you have already watched in your native language or in a language you know well. In this way, you will be aware of the plot and you will immerse yourself more easily in what you are seeing and listening to.

Read also Watching Italian movies!

Read this text in Italian!

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