How to Use German Subtitles to Transform Netflix Binges into Maximum 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 voiceover dubs and subtitles.
You even have the chance to dig through the database for some great 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
- Tips for Making the Most out of Your German Netflix Experience
- How to Find German Subtitled Movies and TV Shows on Netflix
- How to Activate German Subtitles or Audio on Netflix
- Finding Additional German Movies on Netflix And Other Programs
- Accessing Subtitles When Streaming Through a Device
- Using a VPN for Netflix Germany
- 3 Recommended German Movies and TV Shows on Netflix
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 plotline 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 (usually 10 seconds, depending on your TV or laptop settings) 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 helps you 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 several 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 by Languages.”
3. In the “Select Your Preferences” drop-down menus, select “Subtitles” in the first one and then “German” in the second one.
4. To filter for material that has German voiceovers, select “Dubbing” for the first drop-down menu and “German” in the second one.
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 (and keep 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 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 categorized under German-subtitled movies. Therefore, 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 are looking for, but I found quite a few 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. Netflix is just the beginning, so don’t be afraid to branch out to find a new favorite.
You can also learn in smaller portions with FluentU.
FluentU is one of the best websites and apps for learning German the way native speakers really use it. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Watch authentic media to simultaneously immerse yourself in the German language and build an understanding of the German culture.
By using real-life videos, the content is kept fresh and current. Topics cover a lot of ground as you can see here:
Vocabulary and phrases are learned with the help of interactive subtitles and full transcripts.
Hovering over or tapping on any word in the subtitles will automatically pause the video and instantly display its meaning. Interesting words you don’t know yet can be added to a to-learn list for later.
For every lesson, a list of vocabulary is provided for easy reference and bolstered with plenty of examples of how each word is used in a sentence.
Your existing knowledge is tested with the help of adaptive quizzes in which words are learned in context.
To keep things fresh, FluentU keeps track of the words you’re learning and recommends further lessons and videos based on what you've already studied.
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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, so you can choose whatever device you are most comfortable with.
Using a VPN for Netflix Germany
A VPN (virtual private network) lets you block your IP address and make it seem 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.
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 three suggestions on regular Netflix, with German subtitles and German audio dubbed over them.
1. “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
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”
“Chef’s Table” follows world-renowned chefs who chat, cook and eat in various locations around the world. The Netflix original documentary series 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 food and life. The episodes also go deeply into the personal lives of the chefs and how they got to where they are. Be ready for some tearjerker moments!
3. “Marco Polo”
Set 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!
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