How to display two subtitles simultaneously: Movie watching in a second language

How to display two subtitles simultaneously: Movie watching in a second language

Watching movies in Spanish is surely a great way to progress in Spanish language aquisition. But to understand what is actually happening in fast-paced spanish speaking movie, we tend to need english subtitles… but then if I’m honest, I proceed to spend the movie focusing on reading the english subtitles, as opposed to listening to the Spanish. This post descirbes my “hack” for actually learning Spanish from watching movies, in follow-up from my list of Spanish movies.

What we need to do is…

…use Spanish subtitles, to catch what the fastpaced-Spanish-speakers are saying in the film, and (at least at first) English subtitles to figure out what some of the Spanish phrases mean… but most programs don’t allow for two sets of concurrent subtitles. To follow, I explain my hack to get around this. Watching with quick access to the pause button (should you need it) is highly recommended. This technique has worked great for me.

  1. Download subtitles

    Finding subtitles for a video only requires a quick search in Google (and a few minutes trial to check that they sync with the movie correctly). There are generally piles available, so avoid the subtitles that are broken into two if you can. Download one in English and one in Spanish.

  2. Combine subtitles

    Most video players do not have the ability to play two concurrent sets of subtitles at once. But luckily it is easy enough to combine two subtitles into one file online. At http://pas-bien.net/2srt2ass/ select the Spanish subtitle file you downloaded in step one, and add it as the top subtitle, and the English subtitle file as the bottom.

    Press submit and it will automatically download (most probably to your downloads folder). 

  3. Use the subtitle track with the video

    If you’re using one of the most popular video players, VLC (freely downloaded for mac and PC here), select:
    > video > subtitle track > open file (as shown below)

    The file from step two should be in your downloads folder, and will have the same file name as the English subtitle file, but with a “.ass” extension (as opposed to .srt). Select this file, and you’re away laughing.

    It should look a little something like this in your player:

  4.  Hide the English subtitles until you need them, if you can

I try not to use the English subtitles until I need them, so I either avoid looking at them or even cover them until I am stuck (see photo below for example of how easy it was to cover the Spanish subtitles with coasters I had nearby).
This technique  has worked fantastically for me, to the point that I can now watch (most) movies with only Spanish subtitles.

 

Know of a better hack?

Checkout some of my Spanish movie suggestions here: Movies in Spanish.

23 Comments

  1. Here’s my holy grail, as a Mandarin Chinese learner: three subtitle tracks displayed simultaneously: 1) English; 2) Pinyin Mandarin (the alphabetized script); 3) Simplified Mandarin characters.

    Oy!

    I’ve so far only found some hope: 1) Websites that convert simplified Mandarin text into Pinyin–but not subtitles!; 2) players that allow only two sets of subtitles (as in you example).

    If you can solve this challenge, Einstein’s a dwarf compared to you! Ideas?

    Reply
    • Clay if you want tripple subtitles support, you should use kmplayer.

      The only drawback is that It’s only available fot Windows OS.

      http://www.kmpmedia.net/

      Reply
    • You poor thing Clay, that’s a whole other level! Mandarin must be such an interesting language to learn! All the best. If I hear of anything I’ll let you know!

      Reply
  2. This is AWESOME!!!! Thanks so much…. (wonder if it’s possible to have both subs at the bottom..??)

    Reply
  3. This is AWESOME!!!! Thanks so much…. (wonder if it’s possible to have both subs at the bottom..??)

    Reply
  4. This is AWESOME!!!! Thanks so much…. (wonder if it’s possible to have both subs at the bottom..??)

    Reply
  5. The KM Player is a free player that can display multiple subtitles at once. They can be positioned and moved independently.
    http://www.kmpmedia.net/

    I use it so that my Chinese wife and I can both watch foreign films together (for instance, a German film).

    Reply
  6. Great!!. I will do it to improve my English!. Thanks from Spain.

    Reply
  7. Great!!. I will do it to improve my English!. Thanks from Spain.

    Reply
  8. Great!!. I will do it to improve my English!. Thanks from Spain.

    Reply
  9. Great!!. I will do it to improve my English!. Thanks from Spain.

    Reply
  10. Great!!. I will do it to improve my English!. Thanks from Spain.

    Reply
  11. Great!!. I will do it to improve my English!. Thanks from Spain.

    Reply
  12. Great!!. I will do it to improve my English!. Thanks from Spain.

    Reply
  13. Great!!. I will do it to improve my English!. Thanks from Spain.

    Reply
  14. Great!!. I will do it to improve my English!. Thanks from Spain.

    Reply
  15. Great!!. I will do it to improve my English!. Thanks from Spain.

    Reply
  16. Great!!. I will do it to improve my English!. Thanks from Spain.

    Reply
  17. Great!!. I will do it to improve my English!. Thanks from Spain.

    Reply
  18. Great!!. I will do it to improve my English!. Thanks from Spain.

    Reply
  19. Great!!. I will do it to improve my English!. Thanks from Spain.

    Reply
  20. Nice trick to improve english skills

    Reply

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