App Review: Language Learning with Netflix

Recommend? Heck, yeah!

Pros:

  • Fun! Watch your favorite shows with Japanese or English subtitles
  • Natural use of conversational Japanese or English depending upon which show or movie is being watched
  • Terrific source for listening practice
  • Terrific for students who are active listeners
  • Watching, listening and reading provide a terrific source for comprehensive input especially if you use subtitles in only the target language
  • Subtitles make it easier to hear what's being said
  • Hovering over the vertically scrolling text, or dialogue, pops up the translation
  • Can skip to any part of a show by clicking on a sentence in the dialogue
  • Furigana can be displayed over kanji
  • Can be a good review of kanji
  • Clicking on a word pops up its definition
  • Print feature can be used to make a hard copy of a show's dialogue
  • Catalogue of shows with Japanese and English subtitles is larger than what's listed in the
  • Can definitely be used for self-study
  • Basic app is free to use

Cons

  • Must pay for a Netflix subscription
  • Catalogue of shows with Japanese subtitles can be limited
  • Only works in Google Chrome
  • Extra features, like saving certain subtitles for later reference, cost money

If you're looking to supplement your Japanese or English language learning and you're an active listener, (LLN) is a fun and useful Chrome extension to help advance your language studies. I've in a blog post and have also during our language exchange sessions.

Unfortunately, a paid subscription to Netflix is necessary in order to use LLN. If you already have one, great. If you don't, don't worry! There are plenty of other resources out there from which to learn Japanese and even more for English!

Here's a list of steps to using Language Learning with Netflix:

  1. and install it, if you're not already using it
  2. to Google Chrome from the Chrome Web Store
  3. Enable the extension by clicking on the switch in the Extensions page for your Google Chrome
  4. Log into Netflix using Google Chrome
  5. Choose a show
  6. Adjust the LLN settings
  7. Watch the show

The sixth step, adjust the LLN settings, would ideally exclude the subtitles in the language you already know. Why? Because studies show[,,] that reading the subtitles in one's native language severely limits or even prevents the acquisition of the target language. So, if you want to learn Japanese, hide the English subtitles in the LLN settings.

LLN works well because it provides the subtitles and transcript of the dialogue in the show. The transcript can even be printed for later reference.

Sometimes spoken Japanese can be too quick for me to catch so the subtitles help me a lot. Often I click on the sentence I want to hear again in the dialogue (the vertically scrolling text and not the subtitles, which are displayed under the video) and LLN automatically jumps to the point in the show where the phrase was said. Very often Chang will point out an often used phrase in Japanese and we'll find it in the dialogue to hear it again. The combination of the spoken phrase with the written dialogue and the visual or setting in which it was said is immensely helpful in remembering the words and their meaning.

The combination of the spoken phrase with the written dialogue and the visual or setting in which it was said is immensely helpful in remembering the words and their meaning.

I don't try to learn every word I don't know when using LLN. I watch the show and try to get the general gist of what's happening. Truth be told, I just discovered that turning off the English translation is more helpful to learning Japanese so now I'll do that going forward.

Recently, unbeknownst to me, LLN was disabled in my Google Chrome. Instead of figuring out what happened, I just ran the show without it for Chang and me. Not surprisingly, watching Midnight Diner was a totally different experience without the subtitles. I was surprised: I was able to figure out more than I thought I would. What I didn't understand, Chang helped fill in the blanks. The next time, I made sure I had my Japanese and English subtitles again. Reflecting on this, I realized I use the English subtitles as a crutch.

Okay, so no more crutches and no more English subtitles. I can do this!

References

1. Frumuselu, A., Maeyer, S., Donche, V., & María del Mar Gutiérrez Colon Plana. (2015, November 03). Television series inside the EFL classroom: Bridging the gap between teaching and learning informal language through subtitles. Retrieved August 24, 2020, from

2. Mitterer, H., & McQueen, J. (2009, November 11). Foreign Subtitles Help but Native-Language Subtitles Harm Foreign Speech Perception. Retrieved August 24, 2020, from

3. Stewart, M., & Pertusa, I. (2008, December 31). Gains to Language Learners from Viewing Target Language Closed‐Captioned Films. Retrieved August 24, 2020, from