Does watching Chinese movies with English subtitles help a beginner level Mandarin student to learn and improve the language?

  • This question is not very specific and hard to answer objectively, it will primarily generate opinion-based answers, and as such it does not meet the guidelines of this site.
    – imrek
    Jun 24, 2016 at 3:56
  • However, to reflect on your question, I suggest you concentrate more on learning material geared at beginners and not spend countless hours watching movies in the Internet, here's why: You won't benefit from it as much to justify spending hours in front of your laptop's/TV's screen. As a beginner, you might catch a word or two from every 4th sentence, but most of what you'll hear will go 'unprocessed', – whereas if you spend your time reading and listening beginners' material, you will understand almost everything, make small incremental steps, and will use your time a lot more effectively.
    – imrek
    Jun 24, 2016 at 4:11
  • Watching movies targeted at native (and advanced) speakers is only going to be beneficial once you will have enough (vocab and grammar) foundations to make sense out of the words and phrases you have not yet heard. The speakers are also speaking much faster than any audio material shipped with your textbook, just to further deepen your trouble. That is however not to say, that you should not expose yourself to real life Chinese from the very beginning, but spending 15 min. watching a short video on Youtube or a podcast will be enough to train your ears, don't waste hours with little benefit.
    – imrek
    Jun 24, 2016 at 4:18
  • 1
    Great. Thanks a lot for your amazing inputs @DrunkenMaster
    – ShellZero
    Jun 24, 2016 at 18:37
  • For the future reader, these kinds of questions are better asked at LanguageLearning.SE.
    – Becky 李蓓
    Mar 1, 2020 at 3:14

3 Answers 3


From my experience, I would say no. The translations for movie subtitles are usually too loose to be of much use.

However, if you watch a Chinese movie with Chinese subtitles, that definitely helps. You can see exactly what they're saying, so you can test your hearing and work on your hanzi recognition at the same time.

  • 对大多数入门级学汉语的学生来说电影中对话说得太快,听不清楚,中文字幕也变化得太快,入门级学生读得太慢。
    – user6065
    Jun 24, 2016 at 1:52
  • 我同意。可是暂停电影,没问题吧。您感觉如何?
    – sazarando
    Jun 24, 2016 at 2:05
  • 经常暂停而同时查看词典的话,看电视片确实会有帮助的,不过需要比较大的耐心。 (为了听得懂所说话语常常还需要把时间标志倒拨几分钟而再次听同一个比较小部分。)
    – user6065
    Jun 24, 2016 at 3:43
  • 其实学语言最好的方法,始终是跟别人尝试沟通。看电影,电视嘛,就只是学字罢了。
    – user13501
    Jun 24, 2016 at 7:42
  • some users suggest: stop the video as soon as a new subtitle appears, read the whole subtitle and then listen to the rest of subtitled spoken words, 有用户建议如下,一旦出现新的字幕就停止视频,读完整个字幕,接着倾听该字幕剩余的话语
    – user6065
    Jun 30, 2016 at 15:37

In my opinion it definitely helps. It improves your listening skills (you get used to the hearing the sounds of the language spoken as they are spoken in a regular conversation).

You'll only distinguish a word once in awhile, but there are words that are used over and over again so you'll especially exposed to words that are more frequent, which is great for beginners. The subtitles may help, especially if the movie has both hanzi and pinyin hardcoded and english subs (non-hardcoded).

This is a good habit. Go for it every time you can.


Im sure it is, just like reading is a great way.

But if you are watching the movie translated into English, then it'll be less helpful. Try with the Mandarin subtitles option. I know that if I put on English subtitles on an English speaking movie, then what they are saying shows below in text form, and it is not translated or disrupted, the exact words are shown below.

  • Better yet forcing the brain trying to understand by disabling subtitling altogether.
    – user4452
    Jun 24, 2016 at 14:43

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