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How to Learn a Language by Watching Movies with Your 7 Favorite Websites

They give you a break from reality.

They take you on exciting adventures.

They show that true love can overcome any barriers.

But can they really help you learn a language?

Learning a language with movies is undoubtedly one of the most fun ways to study.

However, it can get a bad rap from students who’ve fallen victim to mistakes.

Don’t blame the movies! With the right approach, movies can be powerful language learning tools that infuse your education with a wonderfully fun way to learn.

Some of your favorite resources for watching movies can become your go-to sources for a wealth of language learning material.

Here’s what you need to know to for how to learn a language with movies… one resource at a time!
 


 
Learn a foreign language with videos

Why You Have to Be Careful When Using Movies to Learn Languages

  • When watching movies in your target language, it can be easy to lean on subtitles. Don’t get us wrong—subtitles can be an awesome learning tool. However, if you’re using English subtitles, you may accidentally focus on them instead of listening to your target language.

    It’s an easy trap to fall into. After all, you’re more comfortable with your native language, so it’s only natural that you lean on it whenever possible.

    To avoid falling into this habit, you can consciously focus on only glancing at the subtitles when you don’t understand something. You can also use resources that don’t offer subtitles or allow you to turn off the subtitles, thereby preventing the temptation to glance down for an easy crutch.

  • If you’re learning a language with movies, you could fail to develop well-rounded skills. That’s because movies focus primarily on listening practice. If you manage to find a source that provides subtitles in your target language, you could also get some reading practice.

    However, movies are sorely lacking in speaking and writing practice. Because of this, you may need to supplement with other resources or use innovative ways to work speaking and writing into your learning routine.

  • Finally, you may get overwhelmed watching a movie in your target language. Movies can be pretty long. If you haven’t done a lot of listening practice in your target language, diving right in with a movie could be overwhelming and make you feel like you don’t understand the language at all. Selecting your movie and resource carefully can allow you to find something more level-appropriate that isn’t quite so daunting.

How to Learn a Language by Watching Movies with Your 7 Favorite Websites

Netflix

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Netflix is one of the most popular movie resources out there. Luckily, your subscription also grants you access to tons of foreign language movies. Simply search the name of your target language and “movies” to find options.

Top Options

Who It’s Best for

  • Learners who already have a Netflix subscription. If you already have a Netflix subscription, you may as well turn it into a language learning expense! Plus, using your subscription for language learning can really maximize the value you get out of Netflix.
  • Students looking for flexible subtitling options. Netflix offers English subtitles for all foreign-language movies. However, it also allows you to remove subtitles, making it a more flexible option than some and allowing you to select which subtitling option is best for you.
  • Students who have a difficult time finding material in their target language. Netflix offers a greater variety of languages than most movie resources, so if you’re struggling to find movies in your target language, Netflix could be a great solution.

What’s Unique About It

  • Subtitling is flexible. Not all resources allow you to turn subtitles on and off, which makes Netflix stand out as an exceptional option.
  • Netflix offers a huge array of languages. Many movie resources offer only very common languages or focus on specific regions. Netflix, on the other hand, includes movies from all over the world.

How to Get the Most out of It

  • Want even more flexible subtitling options? Try to find Netflix Originals. Netflix subtitles are flexible to begin with, but Netflix Originals tend to offer even more options. That’s because Netflix Originals generally offer captions in the language of the movie, too. That means you can watch a movie in Chinese while reading along in Chinese.

    If you want an easy transition towards greater proficiency, you could also start with English subtitles, rewatch with subtitles in your target language, then rewatch without subtitles.

  • Connect with other language students to discuss what you’re watching on Netflix. If you meet someone online or know someone in person who’s studying the same language as you, you could work in speaking or writing practice by communicating about what you’re watching in your target language on Netflix. And because Netflix is so widely used, it can be an excellent resource for movie clubs.

FluentU

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If you love videos but want additional support, FluentU is a terrific tool.

FluentU uses real-world videos, like movie trailers, clips, news, commercials and more, and turns them into powerful learning experiences.

Each video is captioned, so you can easily access any word’s definition, example sentences and an associated image. Want to see a word in a different context? FluentU can also show you other videos on the site that use that word.

Plus, because FluentU is flexible, it can work for students of all proficiency levels.

Top Options

  • Movie trailers
  • Short films
  • Clips from animated movies

Who It’s Best for

  • All levels of language learners. FluentU can accommodate any level of language learner. Videos and lessons are organized into six levels: beginner 1 and 2, intermediate 1 and 2 and advanced 1 and 2. You choose what you watch and how often you study. Meanwhile, FluentU’s algorithm tracks your learning to present you with level-appropriate questions that build on what you already know.
  • Learners who want to start small. FluentU’s subtitles, activities, flashcards and quizzes for each video are extremely detailed, so the software only provides short clips, not full-length films. This makes it easier to get as much as possible out of just a couple minutes of material. Maybe you don’t have the time to watch a movie. Or maybe the idea is so overwhelming that you don’t know where to start. If that’s the case, FluentU’s bite-sized clips could be just what you need!
  • Learners with limited time available. FluentU doesn’t require a huge time commitment. You can choose to watch for just a couple minutes a day or watch for hours on end if the mood strikes you. Because you can break your learning down into small, convenient chunks, FluentU is a great tool for students who want to learn with videos without having to set aside hours at a time.
  • Students who want extra learning support. If you’re not fully comfortable listening in your target language, FluentU can provide you with the extra learning support you need to get there. You’ll have definitions and example sentences at the tips of your fingers, so you can enjoy the benefits of authentic listening with the support of great learning material.
  • Anyone who wants to maximize the learning impact of the activity. Learning with movies can be great, but if you want to really learn vocabulary, you may need to keep word lists, refer to dictionaries and then study. FluentU can increase the learning impact of watching videos without creating so much extra work. If you don’t know a word, you can get a translation instantly. Want to study it more? Just add it to your vocabulary list!

What’s Unique About It

  • FluentU is very flexible. With FluentU, you call the shots. You choose what you watch, how much time you spend, how quickly you progress, etc. And flexibility is key for anyone trying to fit language lessons into their busy schedule!
  • It offers interactive activities. In addition to video content, FluentU offers quizzes that fuse videos, images and example sentences into interactive activities and flashcards that put your knowledge to the test.
  • It can grow with you. FluentU’s algorithm tracks your learning, so FluentU grows with you as your skills progress.

How to Get the Most out of It

  • Try all the features. FluentU offers more than just great video content. You can also find audio lessons, playlists and flashcard sets. Try out all of FluentU’s features to see which work best for your unique needs and preferences.
  • Use FluentU often. Because you can use FluentU for just a few minutes at a time, it’s a terrific tool to use often. You can stagger your learning throughout the day rather than studying in one long session. Plus, studying more frequently can keep the language fresh in your brain and prevent backsliding of skills.

Hulu

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Hulu is another streaming service where language students can find some international content. It isn’t quite the fount of international content that Netflix is, but it does offer up some strong options.

Top Options

Who It’s Best for

  • Students who already have a Hulu subscription. Hulu doesn’t provide as much international content as some other options, so it might not be worth pursuing a Hulu subscription solely for foreign language content. Therefore, it’s a good option for anyone who already has a Hulu account. Hey, why not get a little more out of it by improving your language skills?
  • Korean language students. While Hulu doesn’t have tons of foreign content, it does have a decent amount of Korean films, so Korean language students might just love Hulu. Not only does it offer some Korean movies, but you can also find a number of Korean TV shows.

What’s Unique About It

  • Its international content is largely Asian. Unlike Netflix, Hulu’s international content has a clearer regional focus, and that focus is on Asia. Specifically, Hulu offers a good deal of Korean content.
  • Offerings change often. Hulu’s content seems to change pretty frequently, so if you don’t find something to watch now, you might in a few days!

How to Get the Most out of It

  • If you find something you want to watch, watch it as soon as possible. Because Hulu seems to change content often, if you spot a movie in your target language you really want to watch, try to do it as soon as possible. It would be tragic for it to disappear before you get a chance to learn from it!
  • Try to find scripts in your target language. Hulu offers English subtitles, but you’re unlikely to find as many movies subtitled in your target language as you can on Netflix. Because of this, finding movie scripts in your target language can be a helpful tool to allow you to read along as you watch. To find movie scripts, try searching the name of the movie and “script” in your target language.

Amazon

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Amazon has a unique mixture of movies you can stream and movies you can purchase on DVD.

Amazon is a particularly good resource for finding familiar movies dubbed in a variety of languages. When purchasing international DVDs, just be sure to check the region to make sure they’re compatible with your DVD player.

Having trouble finding movies in your target language on Amazon? Search for your favorite movie on DVD, then scroll down to “Product Details.” Here, you’ll find a list of languages you can watch the movie in.

Top Options

Who It’s Best for

  • Students looking to learn through children’s movies. Amazon is one of the best resources for finding children’s movies in foreign languages. Because of this, Amazon is a good resource for beginning students or anyone else who would rather enjoy a fun film for kids.
  • Students who are more comfortable watching a familiar movie. Because Amazon also offers a lot of dubbed movies, it’s a great place to find movies in your target language that you may already be familiar with in English. Watching a movie you already know in English can help you overcome the language barrier and enjoy the movie in your target language without worrying that you won’t be able to follow.

What’s Unique About It

  • You can purchase DVDs. Most movie resources focus on streaming, so if you’re looking for DVDs, Amazon may be your best option.
  • You can stream some international movies for free with your Amazon Prime subscription. While Prime Videos doesn’t offer tons of international movies, you can definitely find a handful of good options. And if you already have a Prime subscription, watching these movies will give you more bang for your buck.

How to Get the Most out of It

  • Watch dubbed movies right after watching the English version. Watching the English version first gives you a clear idea of the plot and meaning. When you watch in your target language, having this familiarity will make it easy to focus exclusively on the language itself.
  • Memorize songs from Disney movies. Disney movies are incredibly catchy, and you can use that to your advantage! Memorizing songs from Disney movies in your target language can help you remember vocabulary and grammar rules. Plus, your friends will be super impressed if you start belting “I’ll Make a Man out of You” in Chinese!

AsianCrush

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AsianCrush is a streaming service that focuses exclusively on Asian movies and TV.

Top Options

Who It’s Best for

  • Students learning Asian languages. Because the focus is squarely on Asian languages, AsianCrush is perfect for anyone learning Chinese, Japanese, Korean or other Asian languages.
  • Students with specific taste in movies. AsianCrush offers a lot of filters to help you find the perfect movie to fit your learning goals and mood. You can filter by country, genre and theme, making it easier to find something to fit your tastes.

What’s Unique About It

  • AsianCrush makes it easy to filter by country. A lot of movie options don’t make it easy to find international options, but with AsianCrush, it’s super easy. Just filter by country. If you select a country where your target language is widely spoken, you’ll probably find a number of options.

    However, note that the China region includes largely movies from Hong Kong, which are generally in Cantonese. If you’re looking for movies in Mandarin, perusing options from Taiwan is more likely to yield results.

  • You can watch movies for free. Sure, AsianCrush has premium options. However, it also offers lots of free material supported by ads. This makes AsianCrush a good choice for learners looking to save money.

How to Get the Most out of It

  • Try not to lean on the subtitles. Movies have English subtitles, and you can’t turn them off. So if you’re looking for language practice, you’ll have to make a point not to simply read along in English.
  • Don’t be afraid to watch a TV series instead of a movie. AsianCrush offers a lot of TV series that are just as riveting as movies. Plus, because they often offer several hours of content, you may end up binge watching (and therefore, binge learning).

Viki

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Viki is another streaming service that focuses on Asian content. You can find plenty of great movies and TV shows out of China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and more.

Top Options

Who It’s Best for

  • Students learning Asian languages. Like AsianCrush, Viki focuses exclusively on Asian languages, so it’s a great option for students studying these languages.
  • Learners looking for a wider array of subtitling options. Viki offers subtitles in more languages than most resources, so if you’re more comfortable reading subtitles in a language other than English, you might be able to find options here.

What’s Unique About It

  • You can filter by subtitle options. If you have a specific subtitle scheme in mind, Viki’s filtering option can help you narrow down your search.
  • There’s a wider array of subtitling options. Viki offers more subtitle options than other sources, so you can find movies subtitled in Arabic, Chinese, English, French and a huge array of other languages, giving learners more options. This is especially useful if English isn’t your first language!

How to Get the Most out of It

  • Read reviews ahead of time. Viki includes reviews of the movies, so it’s easy read reviews before you watch a movie. While some reviews may contain spoilers, they can also help you understand the film better before you attempt to watch it.
  • Connect with other fans. Viki offers a community feature with a discussions forum, so you can find other passionate movie fans to connect with. Who know, you might even be able to find a great language exchange partner!

YouTube

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YouTube features user-uploaded videos, but you can also find plenty of movies on the site.

Some of them are uploaded by fans, so they may come and go due to copyright restrictions. However, you can sometimes find some great material just by searching “movie” in your target language.

Top Options

Who It’s Best for

  • Students who aren’t too picky. If you have specific ideas about genre, theme or subtitling, watching movies on YouTube may not be for you. However, if you want to experiment and see what’s out there, it’s a great choice!
  • Anyone looking for a free option. You can watch movies on YouTube for free, so it’s a strong resource for anyone looking to save money or wanting to try learning with movies before they put any money into it.

What’s Unique About It

  • Options vary in difficulty level. You may find movies appropriate for complete beginners, like kids’ movies or subtitled films. You may find movies for advanced speakers, and you’ll probably find tons of options between those two levels.
  • You never know what you’ll find. Not knowing what to expect can be an exciting adventure and test of your skills. Because you might not have subtitles, a movie description or even a title, you’ll need to use your language skills to figure out what’s going on.

How to Get the Most out of It

  • Engage with other viewers in the comments section. One huge benefit of YouTube is that it features a comments section, which is often quite active. For language learners, this can provide both reading and writing practice.

  • Consider making your own movie review videos. You’ll already be using YouTube for language learning, so why not take it to the next level? Post reviews of the movies you watch in your target language to work some speaking practice into your learning routine.

 

Watching films can be one of the most fun ways to improve your skills—the trick is knowing how to learn a language by watching movies.

With the right strategies, these resources can be powerful and enjoyable language learning tools.

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