Can Children Learn a Language by Watching Subtitled Movies?

If you want your children to learn a language with subtitled movies, we'll explain how to make the most of this resource.
Can Children Learn a Language by Watching Subtitled Movies?

Last update: 03 November, 2021

You may like to watch subtitled movies and series on Netflix and other platforms in order to enjoy the original dialogue and also to reinforce your learning of another language. Surely, the same thing happens to your children and it’s more enjoyable for them to learn the language in this way.

In addition, watching movies is a good way to spend an afternoon with the family, to strengthen the bond and share experiences of all kinds.

Next, we’ll tell you how to get the most out of this resource to reinforce school language content. Keep reading!

Learn a language at an early age

Childhood is the best time for this learning to occur, as the assimilation of content is greater during this stage. Likewise, little ones are able to remember and produce new sounds with great ease.

In the case of English, early teaching has been shown to improve communicative competence through this language. And what’s learned in infancy gives children a wonderful foundation for the future.

Finally, teaching languages through a shared activity improves children’s acceptance of this learning. Being involved in this part of raising children allows minors to feel more understood and valued by their parents. And surely, this will translate into the acquisition of more and better language skills.

A cartoon image of children smiling as alphabet letters come out of a speaker.

How to achieve language learning with subtitled movies

Whether you watch subtitled movies or cartoons, the format doesn’t matter, but rather the content and context.

For starters, you can experiment with the film’s most prominent songs in their original language, thus facilitating the internalization of sounds and words. Later, you can help your children understand the meaning of the lyrics.

Then, put them in short episodes of their favorite cartoons and select those that have a vocabulary that’s easy to understand. This way, children gain confidence and are motivated to continue with more complex ones.

When they already have a more or less established vocabulary, you can move on to the subtitled movies, which tend to be longer and have longer dialogues, with somewhat more complicated sentences.

Practical tips

If you want your children to learn a language with subtitled movies, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Simple and clear language: it’s essential that the words and expressions in the dialogues are easy to understand. Before watching the episode or movie with your children, it’s important that children have a basic vocabulary so that they can better recognize the terms.
  • With subtitles: the first few times you can put the subtitles on. When they’ve more or less mastered the language, you should take them off. Visual support may be necessary at the beginning, but it’s best to encourage oral comprehension as soon as possible.
  • Series and films of their interest: use as a resource those films or series that are attractive to your children, as motivation is essential for learning.
  • Formal language: Don’t expect your children to learn informal language without first learning formal language. In this sense, look for series and films that have an appropriate language for each stage of teaching.


An open notebook with film and a clapperboard on top.

Remember that emotions are the guides to good learning and that’s why you must motivate your children, get them excited, and show them that they have the ability to learn the language when the educational resource is interesting to them.

Audiovisual materials, such as subtitled movies or series, are very effective tools for teaching young people. It helps them learn visually and auditory, which also helps them memorize vocabulary and the use of certain idiomatic expressions.

Either way, it never hurts to watch a movie or a series with your children to have a good time with your family.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.