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Should I watch with Japanese subtitles while going through the kanji phase?

February 16, 2023 — Tatsumoto Ren

It is not a bad idea to watch with Japanese subtitles while progressing through the kanji phase (JP1K or isolated kanji). Doing so can improve motivation and further increase your learning rate as it provides opportunities to practice the knowledge gained from studying kanji in a different context than SRS cards.

However, I think one must be careful when watching with Japanese subtitles as a beginner. It should not constitute the majority of your immersion, as the focus should be on building listening skills. Watching with subtitles is more akin to reading than listening, and premature reading negatively affects one's ability to perceive sounds and understand spoken language. So you have to be really moderate about it, maybe keep it to less than one third of all your active immersion.

Subtitles can be of help no matter what stage in the process of learning Japanese you are at, but it is also important to spend a lot of time without them. Watching with subtitles is acceptable as long as you regularly train your listening ability as well.

Tags: faq