How to Use Subtitles to Transform Netflix Binges into Maximum German Learning

What if you could combine German language learning with the magic of Netflix?

Luckily, the U.S. version of Netflix provides English-produced films and TV shows with German voice-over dubs and subtitles. You even have the chance to dig through the database for classic German-made films.

Not to mention, simply covering up your IP address with a little trick gives you all the glory that is Netflix Germany. Keep reading to learn more about watching German movies and TV on Netflix with subtitles.


The Benefits of Watching German Movies with Subtitles

Watching a movie provokes a unique sense of wonder in the viewer, considering you take a trip into the world of one, or a few, characters who come in contact with everyday situations and speak like you would in real life. Particularly with movies made completely by Germans, you get to digest a story from writers, producers, directors, actors and even set designers who speak German and are well-versed in German culture.

Watching movies in any subtitled language serves you with a wide variety of benefits that you wouldn’t find by simply reading a book or reviewing flashcards. What are these benefits?

  • You hear the words spoken and view what they mean in English.
  • You can also choose to read the German words, while listening to the English dialogue, building grammar and vocab recognition.
  • Subtitles help you gain experience with slang, modern accents and pronunciations.
  • Movies shift you away from the sometimes boring books and exercises, allowing you to enjoy a movie or TV show and learn at the same time.

Tips for Making the Most out of Your German Netflix Experience

The first few times you watch a movie in German, or with German subtitles, it seems a bit odd. The words fly by quickly, and it’s difficult to enjoy the actual plot line without having to pause and regroup your mind. That’s why I put together a few tips for you to learn the most German in one sitting, while still enjoying your viewing experience.

  • Stick to familiar material. Watch a movie or TV show you’ve already seen before in your native language. This way you know what the characters are talking about, and you don’t have to look up a movie summary to keep up with what’s going on.
  • Watch what you like. Stray away from movies or TV shows you may not like. If you can’t stand chick flicks, don’t watch one in German! Viewing shows you don’t enjoy just turns it into a forced learning experience.
  • Involve others. Watch with a friend, so each of you can clarify words or sentences that the other missed.
  • Rewatch parts. Use the quick rewind function to jump back and review a certain line that troubles you.
  • Use German subtitles with English shows first. Start with movies and shows spoken in your language. Reading German subtitles assists in reading and learning proper grammar and spelling.
  • Progress to German audio and subtitles. Switch to movies and TV shows with German audio and (English) or your language subtitles. This starts to acclimate you to hearing how people speak, while providing a native language reference at the bottom.

How to Find German Subtitled Movies and TV Shows on Netflix

The Netflix movie and TV show collections change all the time, so you will need to complete a search in order to locate the movies that offer German subtitles on Netflix.

The American version of Netflix is limited in terms of German subtitled movies, but currently I am able to find 13 full-length movies and shows with German subtitles or voice over dubs.

How did I find this list of movies and TV shows with German subtitles?

1. Log in to your Netflix account.

2. Click on Browse > Subtitles and Captions.

3. Select the “German” option under the Subtitles.

This reveals all of the movies and shows offered with German subtitles or voiceovers. Keep in mind that some of these offerings are made for German speakers, while others use German voiceovers for the English dialogue.

How to Activate German Subtitles or Audio on Netflix

Just because you located the movie and TV show options that include German subtitles, doesn’t mean they automatically show up. To activate German subtitles or audio (to view subtitles in your own language), follow the steps below.

1. Open Netflix on your computer.

2. Follow the above steps to find German subtitled movies and TV shows.

3. Select the movie or TV show you want to watch.

4. Once it starts playing there is a voice bubble icon to the left of the full screen button (both of these are located on the bottom right hand corner of the video screen.) Click on this to choose your audio and subtitle preferences.

5. Switch back and forth without affecting playback.

Finding Additional German Movies on Netflix And Other Programs

I’ve found that some of the German movies aren’t transcribed by Netflix, so they aren’t actually categorized under German subtitled movies. Therefore, in order to locate some great German movies with subtitles (subtitled by the production company, not Netflix) go to the search bar and type in “German Movies.”

Some results will not give you what you’re looking for, but I found an extra 10 or 15 movies not included in the initial search.

Beyond Netflix, you can also find German movies on other streaming websites such as Hulu, Amazon Prime, Tubi and any other program you use.

You can also learn in smaller portions with a program like FluentU. This immersion program uses short-form authentic subtitled content to introduce learners of all levels to real German speech. There are movie clips and trailers, but you’ll also find commercials, music videos, inspirational talks, news segments and more.

FluentU doesn’t just throw the videos at you and leave you to fend for yourself. Instead, it arms you with the tools you need to understand and learn from each clip. Videos come with a key word bank, transcript and quiz designed to test understanding of vocab. Plus, you can follow along with German and English subtitles (both can be toggled on or off) and click on any word for a definition.

Save words as flashcards and you’ll even get a personalized set of exercises to help you study them at your pace. And if you get FluentU on your iOS or Android device, you can practice speaking out loud with the program’s speech recognition quiz questions.

Netflix is just the beginning, so don’t be afraid to branch out to find a new favorite.

Accessing Subtitles When Streaming Through a Device

Netflix allows instant streaming through various devices such as the Roku, PS4 and Apple TV. Locating and activating subtitled movies works a little different on these devices, as opposed to simply going through the previously outlined steps on your desktop computer.

Netflix provides a handy page for adjusting subtitles, captions and alternate audio on around 15 streaming media boxes and mobile devices, so you can use those guides depending on which devices you own.

Streaming to a TV or mobile device brings the movies and TV shows to you, as opposed to forcing you to sit in front of a computer and feel like you’re in a learning environment.

Using a VPN for Netflix Germany

A VPN (virtual private network) lets you block your IP address and simulate as if you are viewing from a different country. Let’s say you live in the United States, and you want to access Netflix Germany. Why would you need this? Because all of Netflix Germany is in German with German subtitles available, giving you loads of content produced in the country, along with large collections of subtitled or dubbed Hollywood movies. In short, Netflix Germany assumes that you speak German, so the German TV shows and movies are more plentiful than in the U.S. version of Netflix.

This is technically against the Netflix terms of use, but using a VPN is not illegal in many countries, such as the United States.

An easy way to setup a VPN and magically change your location to Germany is by installing HideMyAss! VPN on any of your devices—it works on your computer, smartphone and internet-enabled TVs and game systems.

3 Recommended German Movies and TV Shows on Netflix

To get you started viewing German subtitles and dubbed movies on Netflix, I compiled a list of some favorites.

Find the first three suggestions on regular Netflix, with German subtitles and German audio dubbed over them.

1. “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”

german subtitles netflix

This is a Netflix original, following a woman who spends years of her life living underground, because someone convinces her and a few other women that the world has ended. When saved, she goes on a comedic adventure in New York City.

“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” is all about Kimmy, played by Ellie Kemper, living and learning alongside her stressed employer, played by Jane Krakowski, and her flamboyant roommate, played by Tituss Burgess. Tina Fey is one of the creators of the show, bringing us one of the funniest shows to learn German with.

2. “Chef’s Table”

german subtitles netflix

“Chef’s Table” follows six world-renowned chefs who chat, cook and eat in six wonderful locations. The brand new Netflix show strikes gold in the minds of culinary lovers, and it serves as a wonderful way to figure out how to pronounce tricky food names in German.

Each episode focuses on a different chef, learning about the way they view things like food, life and overall happiness.

3. “Marco Polo”

german subtitles netflix

Based in 13th century China, this Netflix original outlines a fictional take on Marco Polo’s quest into Kublai Khan’s territory. The adventure-based series is filled with betrayal, greed and sexual intrigue, with worlds colliding as the young Marco Polo finds himself in a place much different from home.

“Marco Polo” began airing in 2014, and it features Lorenzo Richelmy as the protagonist, Polo. Other cast members include Benedict Wong as Kublai Khan and Joan Chen as Empress Chabi.


Go ahead and keep on indulging in Netflix. You can now watch guilt-free, just by watching German TV and movies!

Joe Warnimont is a blogger and adventure-seeker. When not riding his bike around Chicago, you can find him sprucing up his German skills. He has watched “Run Lola Run” about ten too many times.

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