Language Learning With Netflix: A Quick Search For Wisdom

Language Learning With Netflix: A Quick Search For Wisdom

Watching movies and shows as a way of learning new languages isn´t a big novelty anymore. Netflix, however, managed to bring a breath of fresh air into this. The spread of top-rated European series opened new opportunities to learn German, Spanish, French etc. This fact encouraged me to browse Quora and check how the people worldwide use Netflix for learning purposes and what tactics do they apply. Here some interesting conclusions based on their answers as well as my personal experience.

With Or Without Subtitles?

This is question is an old as the video-based learning method. Basically, there are two competing approaches: Always watch with subtitles (whether in your mother tongue or in targeted language) vs. watch without them and see how much you would understand. Thanks to the technical features of Netflix you can test all possible combinations. If you are native English learning German, this works as follows:

  • German audio + English subtitles;
  • German audio + German subtitles;
  • German audio + no subtitles.

This list roughly displays the levels of proficiency from A2 up to C1. Obviously, you have nothing to do on Netflix with a level of A1 and there is a quite broad consensus on that.

Listening vs. Reading

Even if proper video-based learning works as a combination of both approaches, one of them tends to take priority depending on what type do you prefer. For the “listeners”, watching Netflix is about listening to native speakers speaking at a speed which is common and natural. For the “readers”, it´s about writing down new words from the subtitles. How do I know that? I am a “reader” too 🙂

Movies or Series?

Do you like films or are you rather binge-watching series all night long? This difference may be relevant for the “readers” who try to absorb new vocabulary out of the subtitles. With that said, series are the clean winner. A certain word or phrase you´re trying to learn is very likely to occur again in the same chapter or during the season. That cause almost the same repetitive effect as studying with the flashcards. Of course, the “listeners” would probably vote in favour of series too, as they could train their ears thanks to the words and phrases pronounced again and again.


The language learning with Netflix shouldn´t be a self-purpose. Regardless of what type of learners you are, you´ll get a satisfying result only by investing some time and having fun – which isn´t that hard in the case of Netflix.

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