Watch first read later

Ive been thinking, we probably learn our native language by having a deep ingrained meaning of each word and sentence because we‘ve heard them words and phrases in certain situations over and over again.

that being said, I would assume it would be best to first watch let’s say a Netflix episode a few times with subtitles (target language subs) on to create a visioned meaning of the sentences being said, and then after read the script on lingq to cement in the words. Also when reading a script before watching the film or episode, you can get absolutely lost with what’s happening because the dialogue can be changing from scene to scene quite fast so everything can seem so random.

Anyone had any experience with this?

And this is my cue to point out, again, how much more effective reading books is as compared to trying to study with Netflix subtitles. The amount of time it takes you to watch an hour of TV a few times, and then read through the subtitles on LingQ vs. reading and listening to a book during that same amount of time, in words encountered and words learned is probably in the 10 to 1 range. Studying with subtitles is fun, but it’s very impractical.


I agree on reading the script. Depending on your experience in the language you might still be pretty lost in the script even if you watch it first. I know I have. It’s very hard to follow sometimes. Hard enough, to me, that I don’t even bother anymore, unless it’s a documentary style (which can sometimes get confusing as well). As others have pointed out in the past, Movies don’t really have a lot of “content” to them. Reading a book or listening to a podcast or documentary will have far more word density. Having said that, with movies you get dialogue which is useful too.

You might want to follow along with the script in LingQ while watching the movie. Or use something like Learning Languages with Netflix extension in your browser…and load up the script to LingQ later to scan through to make blue words yellow or known.

Otherwise I think your plan makes sense and would be how I would approach it now that I can keep fairly informed with target subtitles and could read after, if I felt it would be truly interesting to read about it (usually for me this would be a documentary).

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But i want to learn true real life Spanish, not spanish that’s spoken by a well spoken narrator, with films and series you’re getting full conversations and replies made by different people in real time with lots of slang and for me it’s how people speak on the streets. Each to their own tho, it’s working well for me and I’m learning how Spanish people really Interact with each other

plus I also use audio description so if I watch an hour film then it’s easily 55 mins full of words

edit: I should add that watching native series and films, for me, has made listening to YouTube videos, news etc mush easier as they speak very clear. Just bare in mind the way they talk on the news and in audiobooks isn’t how people speak in real life, although it can be rewarding to be able to understand them i think we should be watching native conversations spoken in true speak aswell

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That’s exactly what I do in Japanese

I understand what you mean about wanting to listen to “real” spanish instead formal spanish, but that seems like trying to run before you even know how to walk. I’m sure you can make plenty of progress (and if this method helps you keep motivated better than listening to something more basic then that’s a good thing) but the feedback is a lot slower than reading + listening as t_harangi suggested. The amount of words per hour in a tv show isn’t even close to the constant stream of (comprehensible) words that you’d consume while listening to an interview/conversation/audio book. Not to mention, movies typically have lots of background noise/music that can be a big distraction when you’re trying to hear words. If you get to the point where you can miss a certain percentage of words and be able to fill in the gaps then it won’t matter as much. I always say that it’s better to err on the side of “too easy” and then scale up the difficulty than to start too complicated and not even know that you’re in too deep. At least if you start easy you can create a spectrum of difficulty vs progress and then adjust yourself as needed. If you start too complicated then you don’t even know how easier levels can benefit you, and this is a problem.

Another advantage of listening + reading is that you can let the audio get ahead of your reading speed so that you’re only listening to the current words while your reading is lagging. This is an easy way to keep things comprehensible while balancing the listening difficulty.

I recently started Arabic on lingq, and when starting a new lesson I’ll listen to it on repeat 5-10 times before reading. This helps me focus purely on the sounds and trying to distinguish them. Then I will read + listen several more times. At this point I have a pretty good idea of what the lesson is about and then I can listen to these lessons in a playlist while I’m doing something and not able to read. I really like this process because it allows me to practice reading and listening while making good use of dead time.

Good luck!


Some good points :ok_hand: I think for me because I’ve been learning Spanish nearly a year I was bored of beginner content and YouTube videos, I’ve stopped my self watching La casa de papel for too long now ahah, best thing I did was just to absolutely fight my way through the script until I got used to the way they spoke. Now I know if I open a new episode I won’t be pulling my hair out with every sentence haha!

do you recommend any gripping audio books in Spanish? (If you’re learning Spanish that is)

I haven’t been listening to audiobooks in spanish, but i do listen to youtube videos. The reading + listening that I’m currently doing is for arabic, french, and russian.

ps, you can click on a person’s profile to see which languages they learn/learned

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Have you checked out Easy Spanish youtube channel? If it’s anything like the Easy German channel, you have “real” authentic street interviews with all the “um’s” and starts and stops of normal conversation. Also, if it is like Easy German…it is not EASY (at least not most of the videos) and not “beginner”. Most of the street interviews are definitely intermediate or a little higher. No one is slowing down their normal rate of speaking, other than to ponder an answer so it’s quite authentic conversation. Also it is probably quite a bit more dense than a movie.

I’m sure there are other good non beginner Spanish youtube channels. You may just have to do some searching.

I’m all for movies and entertainment, and if that’s ultimately the only thing that keeps you interested in language learning then keep at it!

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As far as “real Spanish” goes, of course a big chunk of any book is dialog, written in the same “real Spanish” as movie dialog – often written by the same people.

But this is always a tough argument to make, because most people who like to read books will be happy to read books as well as watch a lot TV in their TL. And most people who don’t like to read will try to all the other things such as YouTube etc.

My bet would be that if you had two control groups, one who used books with audio as their primary study method and TV as their secondary vs. another group that worked only with Netflix subtitles as their primary method, tracking their hours etc., your book group would actually gain comfortable movie level comprehension a lot faster than the Netflix group.

That’s my hypothesis based on having done this with multiple languages now.


I second your hypothesis. Books are dense in terms of providing vocabulary range. And, trust me, the informal or slang words you pick up just through watching Television shows/movies you can easily pick that up if you are reading contemporary novels. They are repeated there, too. Contemporary authors also use modern day to day language.
The second group will be exposed if told to write an essay on a given topic because their vocabulary range is very limited.

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Does it suit you better?

I suppose you’re right as long as I can find books that are similar to the series of usually watch, id love la casa de papel to be realised as books!

a tv show isn’t even close to the constant stream of (comprehensible) words that you’d consume while listening to an interview/conversation/audio book.

Fully agree with you, I always prefer not only an interesting, but also intensive content in terms of words per minute.
I wish I’ll manage to find out a similar approach for speaking. Writing, tutor, and so on are not going to substitute the ‘constant stream’ of practice as in the native environment. Self-talking might be the key, but I definitely need to get up at least a very basic level of fluency, because now it’s awkward and slooow :slight_smile:

SI, I’ve wondered the same thing about speaking, and I think an approach that I will use at some point is basically being able to listen to a sentence or paragraph (depending on ability) and then try to repeat it out loud. This should help, but I haven’t really devoted serious time to it.

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Try some of Pérez-Reverte’s novels. He has written interesting thrillers with plenty of dialogue. Notice that the popular TV series “La Reina del Sur” is based on one of his novels.
Btw, you may alternate between reading the novel and watching the series, which would combine the best of both approaches.
I think both of them have pluses and minuses. I personally use them both. For example for a long time I mostly read novels in Russian but now I am mostly watching Japanese anime on Animelon and then reading the transcripts on Lingq (in that order). Learning a language is a loooooong process and you end up doing a bit of everything.

Thank you I’ll take a look :smiley: and I agree with you there, it’s a very long process. When I first started learning Spanish 11 month ago I assumed I’d be near native within 9 month :rofl: I’ve come a long way but I’ve got a looooong way to go

I actually read out loud when I use lingq and it’s definitely helped to pronounce words, when I first started reading out loud I was amazed how hard it was, it’s not so difficult now so it must of improved, I don’t think it’s helped me with real conversations though but then again I don’t really do that much

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I’ll reply in the general thread

reading out loud does wonders for pronunciation but it doesn’t really help with coming up words on our own. It’s also a lot harder to follow the meaning of what you’re reading if you focus on pronunciation. I’m sure after some practice it wouldn’t be as hard though.