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.
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.
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).
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:
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.