TV the hard way

Published April 9, 2023

An illustration of a couple sitting on the sofa watching a television programme with subtitles on

I love this blog post from Duolingo recommending ways to increase your language learning by utilising your television and its various audio/subtitle options.

The post runs through the different scenarios you can try to help boost your listening and reading skills, for example, audio in your own language and subtitles in the language you’re trying to learn, or vice versa. Or the pro option, audio and subtitles in the language you’re trying to learn.

I had just started trying this myself, the very basic option, of audio in my own language and subtitles in French, and I was surprised how much I was picking up and also how I could tell when what was written didn’t quite fit with what was being said but got the general point across.

The only tricky moments come when watching with other people, and the language suddenly switches to something else, for example Spanish. Then it’s all on me to translate what they are saying from the French subtitles as there’s no room for the ordinary English ones as well. That’s a stark way of showing where my language skills are really at!

It’s fun though, and definitely worth playing around with. Maybe I’ll try moving up to some of the more difficult levels and get some listening skills alongside my clearly-not-that-great reading ones.

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