When you watch English videos with subtitles, you’re standing on the bridge to English fluency.
English subtitles will take you from“What are they saying?!” to“I can totally understand this!”
They’ll help you understand English speech while you watch movies, TV shows and videos—until one day you cross the bridge and don’t need subtitles anymore.
Ready for this part of your English learning journey?
In this post you’ll learn more about subtitles and why they work, and you’ll find eight great resources to watch English videos with subtitles for language learning.
Should Subtitles Be Foreign or Familiar?
Subtitles are the written dialogue in a movie or a video. That means that everything said on the video will be shown in the subtitles. Some videos have closed captions, which include written dialogue but also have notes on things like music and background noise.
Before you start watching English videos with subtitles you have to answer the question: what kind of subtitles? You can choose to watch with English subtitles or translated subtitles that present the written dialogue in your native language.
While there are some benefits to having subtitles in a language you know well, the best way to learn English with subtitles is to put them in English. In fact, research has shown that watching English videos with English subtitles has a greater impact on language learning than watching with foreign subtitles or with no subtitles.
One of the great things about English subtitles is their repetition. You’ll get to hear and see new words, which can make them more memorable.
Subtitles will also help you associate your written English with spoken English. In a classroom setting, you may learn how to read in English but still feel unsure about how to speak it well. Watching videos with English subtitles will show you how to pronounce each word correctly, how it’s spelled and how to use them in conversation, all at once.
Finally, watching an English video with English subtitles is an immersive way to learn. Learning through immersion (surrounding yourself with the written and spoken language) is one of the best and quickest ways to learn English. That’s because it forces you to use English and think in English, rather than relying on translations. It’ll increase your listening comprehension and give you unbeatable conversation skills.
English Videos with Subtitles: The 8 Best Channels for Maximum Learning
6 Minute English
This BBC series includes a collection of English videos with subtitles that are each around six minutes long. They’re easy to watch because of the length and they come in a variety of topics. Many of the videos are educational and interesting, so besides learning English you can also learn some fun facts about everything from sea creatures to astronauts.
Each video comes with easy-to-read subtitles and are presented in simple language to make sure you can understand. Just click the speech bubble icon on the lower right side of the video screen to turn them on.
The videos also come with quiz questions, vocabulary lists and full transcripts to improve your understanding.
The FluentU English channel gives you the tools to take real-world English-language resources and use them to learn English—as it’s actually spoken by natives.
Improve your English listening skills with sitcoms, talk shows and reality TV.
Think about big ideas while studying English with TED talks.
Learn the latest English slang to make your conversation more lively.
You can even learn how to use Hollywood movies to learn English:
- An uplifting biography with Will Smith
- A gripping historical drama with Benedict Cumberbatch
- A political comedy with Steve Carrell
- A comic book super-villain’s story with Joaquin Phoenix
Don’t forget to subscribe to the FluentU English channel and hit the notification bell, so you’ll never miss another chance to learn.
If you really want to dig in deep to specific videos, try the FluentU program.
Unlike traditional language learning sites, FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the English language and culture over time. You’ll learn English as it’s spoken in real life.
FluentU has a variety of engaging content from popular talk shows, nature documentaries and funny commercials, as you can see here:
FluentU makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you'll see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It even reminds you when it’s time to review! Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning with the same video.
You can start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, by downloading the app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.
This YouTube channel gives simple English video lessons and easy-to-understand English conversations with subtitles. These videos are great for learning pronunciation because Rachel speaks slowly and carefully so that you can follow along.
The subtitles help you understand what she’s saying and make it easy to write down words you need to look up later. Unlike many YouTube channels that use automated subtitles (which are often wrong) Rachel’s English creates their own, high-quality subtitles.
Rachel’s English covers lots of topics. One cool focus of this channel is commonly used slang. Rachel will use words that aren’t formal but are often used in everyday English speech. These are words you won’t learn in a textbook but she makes it easy to understand how to say them and how to use them.
Learn English Conversation
This channel focuses on story. Each English conversation video presents a short story with very easy-to-understand dialogue. The videos start at a basic level and contain easier vocabulary than some of the other English subtitle resources.
To help you learn even more, Learn English Conversation includes a lot of repetition to help the words stick. The speakers will point at an object as they say the name to make sure you know what they’re talking about.
The repetition, plus the subtitles, will help you remember vocabulary words and their pronunciation. Although the subtitles on this channel are created automatically by YouTube, they’re mostly accurate because the speakers talk so slowly and clearly.
This site has a wide variety of English videos with subtitles to choose from. This channel is particularly useful for explanations of commonly used idioms and tricks for how to use and understand them—often taught through movie clips and trailers.
Many of the videos come with built-in subtitles, while others will show you subtitles just for key words and phrases.
Unfortunately the videos aren’t divided into playlists or categories, but each one is helpful. If you scroll through the channel you’re sure to find something that interests you.
VOA Learning English
This English learning channel from VOA News aims to teach you the language with up-to-date videos with subtitles about current events and culture. For example, you can learn English from popular movies or important vocabulary used in English news.
The level of Learning English is a bit more advanced than some of the other resources I’ve shared with you today, but there are a lot of topics to choose from if you’re interested in news events or research.
This website is a little bit different from the others because it doesn’t just contain videos. The site also has several news articles with the option to add audio and hear the news article read out loud. While it isn’t the same as watching a video with subtitles, it still gives the benefit of hearing words spoken at the same time as you see them written.
Sleep Learning English
This YouTube playlist from the Sleep Learning channel presents English vocabulary words, defines them and then offers an example sentence—all with complete subtitles. The narrator speaks slowly and clearly and the video has calming background music.
The videos show common, everyday conversations that might happen, so you’ll be able to easily apply your learning. There are also immersion videos where you’ll hear casual English conversation, like the one below.
The channel also says these videos are designed to be listened to as you fall asleep, so that the music and the dialogue will work in your brain as you’re falling asleep. Of course, you won’t get to enjoy the subtitles that way, but it may be worth a shot for some extra learning!
Daily English Conversation
This YouTube channel includes a wide variety of English conversations with subtitles. They’re organized in convenient playlists so you can easily choose videos for speaking practice, vocabulary building, learning English through stories and more.
Some of the most helpful Daily English Conversation videos focus on pronunciation. The speaker will read a phrase at different speeds and with different intonations while you read along with the subtitles. This is great practice because it’ll help you recognize the phrases said by different people and in different contexts.
Check out these resources, where you’ll find so many enjoyable English videos with subtitles to choose from. The added repetition of subtitles will help your English learning, but the great videos may even make you forget that you’re learning a language.
Cailey Johanna is a freelance writer, translator and editor. She writes in English and Spanish and sometimes a mix of the two, and is fascinated by language and is eager to learn more languages and help others overcome barriers of language and culture.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.