How to Immerse with Mismatched Subtitles

Have you ever found a show on Netflix that you thought would be PERFECT to watch in the language you’re learning, only to discover the subtitles don’t match? This is really common with translated content, such as dubbed anime. There is nothing wrong with throwing in the towel, and moving on to something native with matching subtitles and audio, but if you’re stubborn like me, you can make it work!


Why bother?

You may be asking yourself, why bother with translated content? For some people, one of the hardest parts of learning a new language via input is finding content they enjoy. By choosing translated content that you know you will enjoy, you remove one of the burdens to immersion.

Similarly, not all content is made equal. I truly believe you can find compelling content in most languages, but some languages are media power houses. Think of Japanese and anime. English and Hollywood. Spanish and telenovelas!

Here are a few strategies to cope with mismatched subtitles:

Mute the audio and just use the subtitles

  • This strategy can work great for people doing interactive immersion, treat the show like an interactive comic and just read the dialog and watch what is going on.

Put the audio in a language that you don’t understand

  • This strategy is similar to the above strategy, but it allows you to benefit from audio cues such as music, and tone of voice

Read ahead

  • Using the “read ahead” strategy, you can read ahead in the browser (most meta layer apps have a side bar where you can scroll through future subtitles) and then listen to the slightly different audio.

Use the mismatched subtitles anyway

  • Some learners don’t mind using mismatched subtitles! If you can tolerate this and are at a middling level, you can use the mismatched subtitles and still benefit from doing interactive immersion.

What are your strategies for using mismatching subtitles? Drop a comment below 👇.

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