Watching movies: using subtitles to learn Portuguese

The Lusophone world has produced lots of great movies and documentaries which can expose you to the Portuguese language and and its rich cultures.  Click here for suggestion of movie features worth-watching.

The website Semantica has some excellent tips for learning language while watching movies and videos:

Using subtitles to learn Portuguese

I hear from so many people that are either
(a) unable to wean themselves from using subtitles, or
(b) not taking advantage of the power of subtitles.

There is actually a specific way to use subtitles to learn Portuguese and it’s not that obvious. Using movies, tv shows, and YouTube to teach you the language is by far, the most effective self-teaching method that you can use. The combination of images and the language IN CONTEXT creates an impression in your mind that is lasting and easily recalled.

Here’s the method:

1-Choose a SHORT video clip.

Focus on a 20 second – 2-minute piece and nothing more until you are advanced. It’s important that you not get too lost or overwhelmed.

2-Subtitles in English: ON

Make sure you fully understand what is happening and what was said in your language first.

3-Subs in Portuguese: ON

Re-watch it with the Portuguese subtitles on and try to read them OUT LOUD.


Now take the training wheels off. Listen. One more time and now you speak the lines.

It’s really a big advantage getting to see the words written on the screen. Portuguese is spoken exactly as it’s written, and once you know the sounds that the letters make you can’t go wrong. Soon, you will find that it’s possible to write emails and chat online. This is a huge added bonus!


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