Looking movies to learn a language? Yes, but better if……..

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Many people in the language-learning community argue that looking movies is a good way to learn languages. Of course almost everybody like the idea of learning a language by looking a movie but then, when you try, you may find that most of the conversations in movies are really difficult to understand, if you are not at a very advanced level of your target language.

 

One of the points that most of language bloggers make is that to learn a language you should get maximum exposure to comprehensible content (technically named comprehensible input) in your target language. But unfortunately looking a movie is often exposure to incomprehensible content which is of very little help to learn a language.  

 

The classic way around to this problem is to watch movies in your target language with subtitles in your native language. I personally don’t like this method that much because often the subtitles say something quite different that the audio and they also distract me from the movie.

 

How to get around incomprehensible content in movies

Two days ago I was on a long-distance flight and I realised that there is a more efficient way to use movies to learn languages. It is very simple, you should just look movies that you have already seen once in your native language, possibly movies that you really like, even better one of your favourite movies.

Why so? Simply because when you look a movie for the second time in your target language you already know the story and most of the incomprehensible content will become comprehensible content. It is like reading a book with parallel text in two languages.

 

Using one of your favourite movies to learn a language is even better. First, you are probably more willing to see it again. Second, you may have already seen it several times and know very well the plot and the dialogues in it.     

 

….and of course do avoid action movies, they may be easier to understand but it is because there are not enough dialogues, which are essential if you want to learn a language.

Peter

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