1. Make Sure You Pick the Right Scene from the Right Movie
This is a crucial step. You’ll spend a lot of time watching this movie, so enjoy it enough that you could watch it a million times if necessary.
Okay, maybe not a million times. But you’ll watch it repeatedly, so it’s best that you like the movie. You’ll watch it numerous times over a period of days and weeks to recall the German and study the lines. When you’re presented with information in this fashion, it leads to a significant improvement in learning.
Having trouble deciding on a movie that you’d like to practice this with? We’ve got you covered.
So, watch the scenes you choose over and over. Watch them with your classmates or friends. Watch them until you can recite the lines and can say them without referring to the subtitles.
2. Engage with the Story
This is an important step if you haven’t seen the movie before. Now that you’ve picked out the film you plan on using, it’s time to focus on understanding what’s going on. Knowing the story will allow you to concentrate on practicing the language and following the conversations and lines in German.
You can’t focus on the language if you’re worried about missing the plot. Luckily, subtitles can be a tremendous help.
Watch the movie scene with subtitles first, especially if you’re a beginner. You’ll gradually watch it again without subtitles but not before you can understand enough of it not to be lost.
Remember, you don’t need to watch the entire movie every time you practice. With most of the resources described above, you can skip directly to your favorite scenes and use subtitles in German and plenty of other languages.
3. Play Around with Subtitles
So, you’ve watched the movie, and you understand the story and what happens in it. you’ve also selected a few good scenes to go back and review.
Here are a couple of ways to play around with subtitles while you go back over your favorite scenes:
Watch the scenes with German subtitles
Subtitles in German are a great way to get passive exposure to the language. Enable subtitles in German while watching your favorite scenes, and you’ll notice yourself using them more and more, learning new words and eventually full sentences.
Utilize dual subtitles
While subtitles in German are usually better, you might struggle with them at first if you’re a beginner. In that case, you can use dual subtitles: enable subtitles in German along with subtitles in your native language.
Be warned, dual subtitles provide a greater opportunity to learn, but most of the times you won’t have enough time to read both sets of subtitles while watching a scene. You can commit to strictly watch the German subtitles and only peek at the subtitles in your native language when you need a translation.
Most video players and platforms have specific ways to allow you to watch dual subtitles, but, unfortunately, this method isn’t widely available.
4. Turn Off the Subtitles and Get Dramatic
This might be as intimidating as it was getting rid of the training wheels of your bicycle. But just as it was then, the payoff is worth it. Trust me! Try different ways of practicing German without referring to subtitles.
One of my favorite things to do while watching a scene is trying to say a line from the scene before the actors say them. Alternatively, you can “act” the scene. Say the lines with the actors at the same time without pausing. Mimic their pronunciation, their emotions or movements.
Finally, you can use the scene and record yourself as you act it out. Compare your voice, your pronunciation and fluency with those of the actors.
5. Have Some Fun!
Congratulations! You’re now capable of watching your favorite scenes and understanding exactly what the actors are saying without subtitles.
Feel free to watch them again with your friends (if they’re willing, of course) and discuss any cultural references, idioms or expressions.
You can even quiz yourself and your friends! When you combine the movie scenes with games and quizzes, you can be sure to retain what you’ve learned.
After watching three or four movies, have everyone pick their favorite line (or describe their favorite scene) and write it on a piece of paper. These papers are folded up and put into a bowl (or hat or cup). Each player takes a turn choosing a piece of paper and reading a line. Whoever can name the correct movie first gets the paper. The player with the most papers at the end wins.
And that’s a wrap! Speaking German is a priority but that doesn’t mean it should be boring. Movie scenes can be an enjoyable and fun way to practice all those skills you’ve worked so hard to learn.