You can learn English with subtitles right now.
You do not need any fancy equipment.
You do not need to wait in line.
You just need our list of the best websites to find English videos, shows and movies with subtitles.
Subtitles translate the dialogue (words spoken) in a video.
They may also transcribe (repeat in written form) the dialogue in the same language that is spoken in a video.
There are subtitles and closed captions: They are a bit different from one another. Closed captions not only transcribe the dialogue, but they also describe the sounds and music that go along with the action in films. Closed captions are very useful for people who have trouble hearing or are deaf (cannot hear).
Both English subtitles and closed captions make great English learning tools.
Whether you use them to translate the dialogue into your native language or choose English ones to understand better, it is a great idea to learn English with subtitles starting… right now!
Why Learn English with Subtitles?
Subtitles offer a unique way to improve your English listening skills. When you watch a movie or a show with English subtitles on, your brain is forming a connection between what you hear and what you read. Subtitles are text, and you must read them fast to be able to understand what is going on in the movie. So your brain learns to associate the sounds with written words faster.
Not only that, but English subtitles can also be a great vocabulary learning tool. When you want to master a certain topic of English vocabulary (for example, business English, hospitality English or English for air travel), you can learn new words by watching an English documentary that has subtitles on.
There is so much variety in programming with subtitles, your choices are practically unlimited. There are movies with subtitles, TV shows with subtitles, news programs with closed captions and even educational apps that teach you English with subtitled videos!
One of these choices is FluentU!
We will explain more about how FluentU uses subtitles to teach English below, but in the meantime, you can check out the following video on FluentU’s YouTube channel. It uses a movie trailer from a film featuring actor Benedict Cumberbatch, and the video’s instructor leads us through all of FluentU’s awesome features to learn English with real videos.
How to Learn English with Subtitles
Now that you know the many advantages of English subtitles and where to find subtitled content, you can start learning English with subtitles!
Here are some practical ideas on how to do it.
Beginner English Learning with Subtitles
If you are a beginner English learner, start with shorter videos that you can easily pause and re-watch. Closed captioning will be the most useful to you as a beginner. Not only will you be reading dialogues, but you will also be learning adjectives used to describe sounds and moods. Remember that reading the subtitles and listening to the speech all at once is not easy. Just be patient and consistent—research shows that the process will improve your comprehension skills, even if it does not feel like it right away.
Intermediate English Learning with Subtitles
As an intermediate English learner, you have a lot of choices to learn English with subtitles. For example, find a longer program that you can watch in an hour or two. It could be a film, a documentary or a TV show in English, with English subtitles or closed captions. Subtitles will help you to understand what is going on in the story, while you get used to hearing English conversation and dialogues of various lengths.
This exercise, while entertaining, is all about immersion! It will improve your listening skills fast. Hearing English spoken and using subtitles as an aid (help) will allow you to become comfortable with an uninterrupted stream of English.
Advanced English Learning with Subtitles
If you are an upper-intermediate English learner, subtitles will help you practice listening skills for a specific topic (for example, medicine, politics, finance). Start with picking a program that corresponds to a topic. It could be a documentary, an information program or a news segment… If you already have a vocabulary list for the topic, keep it nearby. Once you start watching the video, pay close attention to subtitles to catch the words from your vocabulary list and to hear how they are used in narration or dialogue. Rewind or restart the video as necessary.
If you are an advanced English learner, you can focus on vocabulary building with the help of subtitles. For example, if there is a topic you do not know well yet, you probably have trouble understanding articles, books or other materials on that topic.
Find a subtitled video on the same subject—it can be a long film or a short video—and watch it, focusing on listening and identifying unknown words. When you come across one, write it down to practice later. Step by step, with the help of the video, you will create a vocabulary list that you can study at any time. You will also become much more comfortable with the topic you are studying in general.
Learn English with Subtitles Starting Now! Just Use These Video Sites with English Subtitles
English-language films, TV shows and documentaries are the best sources to learn English with subtitles. There are lots of resources to legally watch free movies online. Unfortunately, very few of them offer subtitled content or a way to search for content that does have English subtitles.
Below are some great resources that do offer English subtitles.
PBS is an amazing American broadcasting company that produces extremely interesting documentary films and TV series. You can browse their collection by clicking on the Shows and Video tabs.
Look for a CC sign below the video window—it means that the program has closed captions!
BBC America has many new and popular TV shows released by BBC worldwide. As with other highly respected broadcasters, it offers closed captioning on all of its content.
All you need to do is click on the CC button under each video. For many of the videos, you do not need to log in to watch the programs, and they are free!
If you would rather watch shorter videos with subtitles, below are your best bets.
YouTube is an easy answer to your study needs. The variety of content on YouTube is impressive—you can find videos on any topic, be it comedy, movie trailers, tutorials or vlogs (video blogs).
A lot of the most popular content will come with closed captions. All you need to do is to click the CC button below the video to activate them. Unfortunately, not all videos have them, because the video creators have to enable that option when they upload content to their channels. The good news is that more and more YouTube channels come with closed captioning!
If you want to be 100% sure that any video you choose to watch has subtitles, FluentU is for you.
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.
With plenty of international content—including American, British and Australian shows—Netflix has a lot to offer English learners.
Netflix has subtitles that you can customize (change to your liking). Many shows have English subtitles, although this can vary (change), depending on where you live and which shows you choose. For some shows, you might also be able to switch (change) the audio to English.
If you would like to watch more recent American programs—and a few British and Canadian shows—Hulu could be a good choice. In addition to current programs, Hulu has a lot of older shows, especially classic sitcoms (situation comedies).
Hulu has lots of different kinds of shows, like dramas, comedies, news shows, reality TV and movies. You can search for the kinds of programs you want, or browse (look through) different channel hubs to see what is available. For example, Hulu has shows from Discovery, Animal Planet, BBC America, Comedy Central and the History Channel, as well as many other networks (channels).
Hulu is available in the USA, including Puerto Rico. It can also be streamed from some US military bases around the world, but is otherwise not available outside the US.
TED Talks open up a world of personal opinions (beliefs or ways of thinking) and ideas. Most of the talks are only about 10 or 15 minutes long, although there are also many longer videos available to watch.
You can choose from TED Talks on just about any topic you can imagine: history, fashion, the environment, food and language, among many other choices.
Though TED Talks are given by speakers from all over the world, a lot of the talks are given in English.
Subtitles for English and other languages are created by native speakers. They are reviewed very carefully, so you can trust them to be accurate (correct).
Subtitles are easy to use on TED Talk videos: Just click or tap on the white “speech bubble” in the lower right corner of any video and look for the English subtitles.
For further study, you can look at a transcript (written-out version) of a talk. There is also a “reading list” of books and articles to help you learn more about the topic of a talk.
Vimeo is another great resource to learn English with subtitled videos, clips and even short-length action films. However, like YouTube, while a lot of its content has subtitles or closed captions, many videos do not.
There is no option to sort videos by subtitle availability. If the video you want to watch has them, you will see the CC icon under it—click it, and you can start your study session!
English TV Channels
If you want to stay away from the internet while studying, check out your TV channels. Major American English-language channels like CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox offer closed captioning of their content, including news and TV shows they broadcast.
Since these channels have lots of comedies and dramas about everyday life, they are great tools to hear and learn English conversation.
Activating the closed captioning on your TV may be a bit tricky because it depends on what kind of TV you own. In most cases, you will be able to do it on your remote control by going to video or channel settings or options.
To get even more English subtitles for TV shows and films, you can download them (save them to your computer or mobile device). Downloading subtitles in English allows you to turn videos and movies of your choice into learning opportunities.
We will give you some suggestions for where to look for subtitles and how to use them.
One word of caution, though: Based on where you live, it may not be legal to download subtitles. Before you start, find out if downloading subtitles is allowed in your location.
How to Download and Use Subtitles
To use downloaded subtitles, you will need to do a few separate things. We will look at how the process works, in a general way. (It may work a little differently with different computers or mobile devices.)
Learn the process.
You will need both a video file and a matching subtitle file to make this process work.
Then, to watch the video with the subtitles, you will need to use an app or software called a “video player.”
If all of this seems like a lot of bother, you can skip the process by using the English subtitles on FluentU, which we mentioned earlier.
FluentU has English subtitles for videos in the following languages:
- Portuguese (available soon)
FluentU also has English videos available with English subtitles, including ones specially made for speakers of Chinese, Spanish and Korean.
You can learn the latest English words and phrases while enjoying lots of entertaining videos. There are thousands of videos with English subtitles for all learning levels, and more are being added all the time.
One account gives you access to all of FluentU’s languages—and you can easily change back and forth from one language’s video library to another. FluentU will save your progress, no matter which language’s videos you are watching.
When you learn with English-language videos, you will also get to practice with interactive quizzes. These are quizzes that tell you if you have answered correctly, track your progress and adapt (change) to keep the level of learning right for you.
Choose your app.
To watch a video with downloaded subtitles, you will need a special video player app or computer program. Here are a few possible choices.
- Subtitles for mobile. If you have an Android device, you can try apps like Get Subtitles, VLC for Android or Subtitle Viewer. For an iOS device, your choices include PlayerXtreme Media Player, PowerHD, Infuse by Firecore or VLC for iOS.
- Subtitle software for PC or laptop. To watch movies on a bigger screen with your computer or laptop, you can try programs like Free Mac Media Player, VLC Media Player and Monvavi Video Suite 2021. All of these can have both a Windows and a Mac OS version; VLC Media Player can also be used with Linux machines.
Find your subtitles.
The most common subtitle formats are SRT and VTT. You should be able to find these on subtitle sites like English Subtitles, Open Subtitles, Podnapisi and isubtitles.
Again, take a few minutes to find out about your local laws for using subtitles before you download any subtitle files.
Put it all together.
To add the subtitle file to the video file, follow the directions for the video player you are using. Most of the video players we have talked about will have a pretty easy process for playing a video together with its subtitle file.
These are just some ideas on how to learn English with subtitles. There is a lot of content available to you, both online and offline. With some searching, you will be able to find videos that will help you improve your listening comprehension and English conversation skills faster than you imagined.
Being able to pay attention to subtitles is a very useful skill in general, and it will help in your English studies a lot.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.