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Should I watch anime with English subtitles?

November 23, 2022 — Tatsumoto Ren

Yes, if you want to learn English.

This is actually how I learned English as a teenager, not even joking. I was so fed up with the quality of fansubs in my native language that one day I just decided to switch and start watching anime with English subs. It was insanely hard at first, and I spent hours looking up every word in a dictionary. However, after a few months I only had to look up a couple words here and there.

If you are serious about learning Japanese, don't use English subtitles. Watch with Japanese subtitles or without any subtitles at all. When reading subtitles, your own subvocalization interferes with and shadows the audio. Therefore, you learn the language of the subtitles, not the language of the audio.

That's why we say that watching with subtitles counts as reading immersion. I learned English because I was reading English subtitles. And it didn't help my Japanese at all because I wasn't actually paying attention to the Japanese.

We've all seen countless anime fans who've watched thousands of hours of English-subbed anime and still know less than 100 Japanese words.

Tags: faq