Use movie scripts to break through plateaus

Hello there.

I have been studying German for close to a year. Recently I felt I had struck a plateau, a point at which my progress seemed to stop. Seeking fresh ways of learning interesting material, I had an idea: What about reading movie scripts of film I know really well in the target language?

Are there any films you know by heart? For me, it was Batman, the 1989 version with Jack Nicholson. I’ve had that movie memorized line by line since I was about 5. So I went on Google and managed to find German subtitles to the entire movie typed out on some site. What an amazing experience, reading the script of a movie I knew by heart in English in German! I didn’t even have to translate many German phrases because I could figure it out from already knowing the English.

This helped me in at least three ways:

  1. It made me interested in learning German again by making me feel I was doing something fun again.
  2. It introduced me to idioms and expressions and phrasings that I never would have come across.
  3. It helped me retain the material since I already knew it in English and was able to internalize it from context.

This is my new supplementary way of learning German. I recommend it highly. Not only movie scripts, but other familiar materials will help. Are there books you gave memorized in your native language? Find a translation in the target language to see how your favorite words and phrases are rendered in the language you’re learning.

My next post will focus on how Google Translate has pushed forward my German learning by leaps and bounds.

This site of which you speak, does it only have subtitles for films in German or other languages as well?

Nope. They seem to have subtitles for tons of movies in just about every language. Check it out: Loading...


I’ve been looking to do something similar. I find famous movie scenes on youtube and then use a tool to make an mp3 out of the youtube video’s audio, and with the subtitles I could make myself some private lessons in LingQ. I like prefer movies actually filmed in the target language, since that language rhythm and usage is more natural to that language than from a foreign film that has been dubbed into the language.

I’ve read the subtitles for a few films using LingQ. It works well. Subtitle files are also a good source of bilingual texts. I like to LingQ the text before I watch the film.

Tools like subs2srs

can take two subtitle files in different languages, extract the matching audio and/or video and create flashcards automatically.

For LingQ I just export the subtitles as text using Jubbler and import as a lesson without sound.

Reading a spoken text is probably more time effiecient and more vocabularly rich than movie subtitles. Searching for interview based documentaries with subtitles is probably better than action movies, for example.

I have downloaded some programs (SubRip, Jubler and SMPlayer, to be used with Jubler) but I am not sure how I’m supposed to use them in order to extract the subtitles from the .vob files of a German DVD. The only way I’ve understood involves OCR and self-typing of all the unrecognised strings, and there are too many of them.
Any help will be appreciated,

There was also this thread related to this topic: Creating Lingq Lessons From Subtitle Files - Language For...

however I did not read through it carefully enough to determine whether or not a successful solution was reached.

It looks like either SubRip or SubEdit need VobSub to do the OCR work. Perhaps there is already a file trained for German subtitles out there, otherwise, if you just type a few strings and then re run it, that should train it a bit more and hopefully it will capture more subs the next time around.

For iPhone/iPad/iPod touch users, the applications Replayer and ReplayerHD provided some unique tools for subtitle driven language learning.
Things like
-fast repeat gestures
-touch on sentence to jump to that position on the video
-dual subtitle support
-BIG subtitles and flexible positioning
-subtitle timing adjustment
-dictation practice

keke_eo, you have finally foudn the ONE advantage iPhone/Pad users have over android users. I cannot find a replay or equivalent version for the android platform.

AVrepeater and subtitle translator/dictplayer are 2 excellent iPhone apps that use movie subtitles amazingly.