How To Download Subtitles For Foreign Language Movies On Netflix
Are you sick of the usual textbooks and scripted learning materials?
Do you wish you could engage with authentic content in the language you’re learning? Stuff that’s actually interesting and fun to work with?
This is a very common feeling among language learners. And it’s one of the reasons that most people try watching foreign language movies or tv shows at some point or another.
Just watching TV shows or movies in the language you want to learn isn’t enough. And unless you’re doing it in some kind of focused way, I think it can actually just be a waste of time.
In order to get some real benefit out of videos in another language, you need to watch them with attention and focus. You need to actually actively study the content, rather than just letting it passively pass you by.
This is possible. And you can turn movies and tv shows into a very useful learning tool. You just need to know how to take full advantage of them.
In this post, I’m going to show you how to download subtitles for any foreign language movie or TV show on Netflix, so that you can get the most out of your learning.
- Why transcripts/subtitles are essential when watching foreign language movies as a learner
- How to find content on Netflix in the language you’re learning
- How to download transcripts/subtitles for any movie or tv show on Netflix
So, why are subtitles or a transcript so important when learning from tv shows and movies? Let’s consider some of the main benefits:
(NOTE: The subtitles need to be in your target language for you to get any real benefit out of them. Watching foreign content with subtitles in your own language is just a waste of time for learning purposes.)
- Watching videos can be a great way of practising your listening and transcripts are an important part of this. At first, the language will seem fast and difficult to follow. But by repeating short sections of the video over and over while reading a transcript, you can train your ear to get used to the speed of natural speech. Without transcripts, this is impossible because the words just rush by and you have no way of checking what is being said.
- If you print out the transcripts you can highlight things in the text and make notes as you watch. By engaging multiple stimuli – writing, listening, reading – at the same time, you reinforce everything you learn and improve much faster. This is the same reason why people who take notes tend to remember more than people who don’t.
- You can create flashcards by copying and pasting key words and phrases from the text. When you have the subtitles/transcript, this is very easy to do and it allows you to repeat new vocabulary so that you actually learn it.
- Even after you’ve finished watching something, you can quickly and easily review your notes anytime, even if you don’t have time to sit down and watch the video again.
- The video content becomes more enjoyable because you can actually understand and follow everything that’s being said. This allows you to better immerse yourself in the movie or tv show.
You now know why it’s beneficial to have a transcript for video content you practice with as a learner.
But how can you actually get those transcripts/subtitles in the first place?
It’s one thing having them appear on screen in Netflix while you watch something, but how can you print them out or use them to make flashcards if you don’t have some kind of text or document version of them yourself?
Now, I’m going to show you how you can download subtitles for any movie or tv show on Netflix so you can use them as part of your language learning.
You can watch me demonstrate the entire process in video form here:
Alternatively, read on below and I’ll explain everything below step-by-step, with images.
The first thing you need to do is find a movie or TV show in your target language that you want to watch.
To do this, open up Netflix in Google Chome. (Note: The method I show you here will only work in Google Chrome.)
On the Netflix homepage, hover over ‘browse’ to open the menu, and select the option ‘Audio & Subtitles’. This will bring you to a new page where you can search all of the available titles by audio language and by subtitle language.
First, select ‘audio’ from the drop-down menu and then select the language you’re looking for from the language menu. Netflix doesn’t have content in every language but most of the major world languages are there.
Once you’ve selected your language, all of the movies and shows that have audio in that language will appear. This list will include two kinds of content:
- Movies & TV shows originally made and recorded in that language
- Movies & TV shows that have been dubbed in that language but were originally recorded in English (or another language)
I strongly suggest looking for the first kind of content – originally recorded in your target language.
- Dubbed audio can sometimes feature awkward translations that don’t sound 100% natural
- It can be really annoying to watch because the actors’ mouths and movements don’t sync with the audio
- Dubbed audio content doesn’t give you the same insight into the culture of a language that original material does.
When you’re selecting something to watch, it may not always be clear whether it’s dubbed or not without watching the first few minutes.
Try googling the names of the movies and tv shows you’re interested in and you’ll almost certainly be able to find out from Wikipedia or another source what language the show is recorded in.
Once you’ve selected something to watch, you need to extract the subtitle file so that you can use it outside of Netflix.
To do this, follow these instructions:
- Open Netflix in Google Chrome (N.B. You must use Google Chrome for this to work)
- Find the tv show or movie you want to watch and click play to open it.
- Pause the video and press ‘Ctrl+Shift+I’ to open Chrome Developer Tools
- If the subtitles are already active, deactivate them and hit refresh.
- Once the page reloads, turn on the subtitles of your choice and refresh the page again.
- Now go to the ‘network’ tab in Chrome Developer Tools
- In the search bar, type ‘?o=’
- From the search results, find the file that begins with ‘?o=’, right-click on it and select ‘open in new tab’. This will download the file.
- Rename the file as you wish
At this point, you have the subtitles downloaded! However, you’ll notice if you open the file in a word doc or text editor that it’s full of code and impossible to read!
Our next step is to take this code and convert it into a simple text format that we can easily read and use in our learning.
To convert the file to a text format, we can use a free online tool.
- Go to https://gotranscript.com/subtitle-converter
- Click the ‘upload’ button and upload the subtitle file you recently downloaded
- Choose the file format (.srt)
- Click on ‘Convert’ to convert and download the file
The file you receive will be a (.srt) file which you can open in NotePad on Windows or Text Edit on Mac.
All the code will have been removed and you’ll be left with 3 things:
- The line number from the script
- i.e. line 1, line 2, etc.
- The time stamp
- This is great as it makes it easy to find lines when you want to watch/hear them again!
- The dialogue from the video
- The actual text of what’s being said in the video
And… that’s it! You can now copy and paste the text to create flashcards, print it all out so you can make notes offline or import it into a reading programme such as LingQ.
Now that you’ve found content with audio in your target language and you have a full transcript to work with, you’re ready to get started.
Watch a movie or tv show in a foreign language will be a time-consuming process as a learner. It may take you an hour just to get through a 4 or 5-minute section.
But that’s ok! Racing through an episode without really giving it attention and focus isn’t really a productive way to learn.
It’s much better to take this time to work through it, practice your listening, take note of new vocabulary and learn as much as possible.
Are you ready to get started? What language are you learning? And which TV shows and movies are you most excited to watch? Let me know in the comments below!