Open Menu

How to Use Movie and Youtube Subtitles to Teach English



Unlock effective tips for ESL educators to spice up your English classes here!



In the digital age, movie and YouTube subtitles have emerged as valuable tools for ESL educators to create engaging and effective English language learning experiences. In this guide, we will explore a range of strategies on how to use movies and Youtube subtitles to teach English in your ESL classrooms. Whether you are teaching in-person or online, these techniques will help you create dynamic and immersive learning environments for your students.


How to Use Movies and Youtube Subtitles to Teach English:

Tried-And-True Tips

Let's take a look at some helpful recommendations for your language-teaching approach!


Select Movies Or Videos Featuring Native Speakers

Choosing movies or videos that feature native English speakers is crucial for exposing ESL learners to authentic and natural speech patterns. Native speakers often have clearer enunciation, natural intonation, and more accurate use of idioms and expressions. This strategy will assist students in developing an ear for the second language and improve their pronunciation as well as listening skills.


Use Subtitles Smartly

Incorporating English subtitles alongside the audio can provide valuable support for ESL learners. Subtitles help learners associate the written words with the spoken language, reinforcing vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. It allows them to make connections between the sounds they hear and the corresponding words they see.

But don't let your learners be dependent on the sub; instead, only turn the subtitle on the first 2 times (or 1 time for intermediate students) and switch it off the next time. Pause the film at some scenes, and ask some of your students how they understand the script.


Choose Authentic Materials

Authentic materials, such as movies and YouTube videos, offer real-world examples of language usage, cultural contexts, and diverse accents. There is no point showing your students some viral TikTok videos that bear no true meaning. The authentic videos expose learners to different genres, settings, and scenarios, providing a rich and immersive learning experience. These materials also enhance scholars' language proficiency by incorporating colloquial expressions, slang, and cultural nuances essential for effective communication.


Focus On Vocabulary And Grammar

While using movies and YouTube videos, it is important to identify specific vocabulary and grammar tenses or structures that align with the learners' language goals.

Educators can select scenes or segments highlighting relevant vocabulary and contextualizing grammatical concepts. For example, whether using present or past tense is correct in that context. This way, your learners can reinforce vocabulary retention, improve grammar comprehension, and promote language production by explicitly focusing on these language aspects during and after viewing.


Incorporate Pre- And Post-Viewing Activities

To maximize the learning experience, include pre- and post-viewing activities. Before watching, introduce the topic, activate prior knowledge, and set learning objectives. This primes students for the content they will encounter and enhances their engagement.

After watching, encourage discussions, comprehension exercises, or reflection tasks. Also, ask students to analyze the language, share their opinions, and connect to their own lives.


Use Interactive Activities During Viewing

Make viewing sessions interactive by incorporating activities that actively engage learners. Pause the video strategically to discuss key scenes, analyze dialogue, or predict what might happen next.

Teachers should engage learners in role plays, debates, or group discussions related to the content. These schemes promote active listening, critical thinking, and collaborative learning. All of this makes the viewing experience more dynamic and meaningful.


Emphasize Listening And Speaking Skills

While subtitles aid in reading and comprehension, listening and speaking abilities should be prioritized during movie or video sessions. This helps in the development of their oral fluency and confidence in utilizing the language.

You can instruct their participants to concentrate on the audio, paying close attention to intonation, pronunciation, and natural rhythm. Additionally, you should engage them in speaking exercises that require expressing ideas and retelling the story. Engaging in conversations about the video content is also a good idea.


Encourage Note-Taking And Summarizing

The note-taking method allows students to remember critical details, new language, and key phrases. After that, have students summarize the important points or write a brief description of the plot. This strategy encourages active listening, comprehension, and information synthesis and lets students practice organizing their thoughts and expressing them in English.


Assess Understanding And Progress

This method identifies learners' strengths and areas for improvement, allowing for targeted training and personalized support. To assess learners' understanding of the topic, vocabulary, and grammar, you can apply comprehension questions, quizzes, or conversations. Then, provide feedback and direction to address any difficulties. For example, if their grammar seems to fall behind other skills, suggest some reliable websites like Grammar Wiki for self-improvement.


Tips To Help Your Learners Engage

Here are some tips to help your learners engage while using movies and YouTube videos for teaching English:

Let Them Watch The Trailer First

Before watching the full movie or video, show your students the trailer. This step serves as a teaser, tickling their fancy about the content. It gives them a glimpse of the storyline, characters, and key themes, sparking curiosity and motivating them to focus on the material.

Acting Game

Incorporate an engaging activity by dividing the scholars into small groups. Then, let them select their preferred scenes from the movie or video. They can then reenact these scenes within their groups, actively participating in the dialogue and actions. This interactive exercise serves many purposes, as it facilitates the retention and application of new vocabulary. Also, it can upgrade the learners' speaking and communication abilities.

To add an element of excitement, consider recording the performances. Or else, you can organize a voting session involving teachers and students from various classes, determine the most outstanding rendition, and give the winner a lovely reward.




Should I Use Subtitles For Every Class Or Only Occasionally?

Subtitles should be used occasionally rather than for every class. While they can enhance comprehension, relying too much on subtitles may hinder listening skills. By using subtitles selectively, learners can practice listening without relying solely on written text. Then, improving their abilities in real-life language situations. It's important to provide a balanced learning experience by incorporating various teaching strategies and materials.

How Do I Address The Varying Levels Of English Proficiency In My Classroom When Using Subtitles?

To address varying levels of English proficiency when using subtitles, you can provide options for students to choose whether they want to use subtitles or not. Additionally, you can adjust subtitle settings to match different proficiency levels, offer scaffolding activities, group students strategically, provide supplementary materials, and encourage active listening and note-taking. These approaches help accommodate learners at different proficiency levels and promote inclusive learning.



Movie and YouTube subtitles offer a wealth of opportunities for ESL teachers to create dynamic and interactive language learning experiences.

By knowing how to use movies and Youtube subtitles to teach English, you can maximize the educational potential of these resources.

© Angel Castaño 2008 Salamanca / Poole - free videos to learn real English online || InfoPrivacyTerms of useContactAbout
This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read more