4 Steps to understanding a movie without subtitles | English tips

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Steps to understanding a movie without subtitles | English tips

Hi everyone,

Today I will share with you 4 steps to understanding a movie without subtitles.

I will talk about one problem you might have when you watch a movie in English: You can’t understand what the actors are saying without the subtitle, and which method may help you in that situation.

So, how long have you learned English? 6 months, one year, two years, or more? No matter how long have you learned this language, understanding a movie without subtitles is definitely not a piece of cake.

So here are some steps that I will recommend to you

Step 1: You need to check whether you have enough vocabulary or not by using the English subtitle for that movie.

In the first step, keep watching the movie you like with the English subtitle. If you can understand the material well, let’s move to Step 2. If you don’t, it means that you need to enrich your vocabulary first. Actually, if you understand the 3000 most common words in English, you can understand at least 80% of a movie. I will attach this list in the description.

Step 2: Make the listening easier.

If everything is clear for you in step one, It means that you already know the words being used. However, you can’t recognize them when listening.

You can understand what I’m saying now because I’m speaking at the normal speed and tone. But in a movie, actors need to express a lot of emotions through sentences, that’s why they will speak at a fast or slow speed, use a lot of concatenation, stress on sounds in the speech and raise or lower the tone of the voice in a very particular way. That’s why we can’t hear their words clearly.

So, let’s make your listening easier.

You can lower the speed of the movie you are watching. Most movie websites have the function to change the speed. There are also some apps on the phone or programs on the computer to help you speed up or slow down your movie.

As the pace of conversation slows down, you’ll have more time to think and guess the meaning of words you don’t hear well, or words and phrases you don’t know. Let’s slow down until you can make out everything.

Don’t mind about the speed of the movie, you will get used to it soon.

This technique can also be applied when listening to a podcast or any TV show as long as you start with materials that are easy enough for you to listen to.

Step 3:  Easy to Hard training

Have you completed step 2? Good. However, we will not stop here. Our brains are like muscles. If you want more muscle, you have to increase the weight of the dumbbells you’re lifting. This is also a scientifically proven method of training called “Easy to hard training”. If you keep training at the same intensity, you won’t get any better. I will show you how you can apply this method to improve your English listening skills.

After you’ve slowed down the movie, every time you feel like you’ve heard about 90% of it, speed it up a little bit.

Example: Faster the speed of this video: F.R.I.E.N.D.S – The One with Ross’s Inappropriate Song – The link in the description

Keep doing this until you can hear the normal speech of the speakers. But should we stop at normal speed? The answer is no. Like I said, without increasing the difficulty, your listening skills will hardly improve. Keep increasing the speed up to 1.25x, 1.5x, or even 2x. Then continue to increase the difficulty by listening to speakers with different accents.

You may find it a little uncomfortable at first, but trust me, you will realize the magic when after only about 10 minutes of perseverance, you will gradually hear almost the entire content of that conversation. Remember, the key to this approach is to start with easy tasks, gradually increasing the difficulty until you feel completely comfortable hearing any of the speakers in the conversation.

Step 4. Keep practicing

If step three with the “Easy to hard” method is the foundation of this process, step 4 “keep practicing” will be the last step that determines whether you succeed or not. Exercising for one minute a day for a hundred days is much better than exercising for 100 minutes in a single day. Please patiently repeat the listening process that I have just instructed you. Only 5 minutes a day, but do it regularly. Enjoy your favorite movies, TV shows, and songs. Results will come to those who persevere.

So, let me sum up.  To be able to listen to a movie or any English material without subtitles, you need to follow these steps.

  • Step 1: Determine if you already have the necessary vocabulary (usually about 3000 words) to understand the movie and enrich it if necessary.
  • Step2: You slow down the movie speed until you understand the content of the clip.
  • Step 3, you gradually increase the speed of the movie and keep pushing your brain to practice in higher and higher levers.
  • Step 4: practice every day.


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