Any benefit to Japanese subtitles?

Netflix has Japanese subtitles for a lot of their content, but is there any benefit to having them on when you’re practicing listening? It does boost comprehension, however I feel that it shortcuts the listening. Listening requires a lot of concentration for me, and reading subtitles can detract from that. Is there some benefit I’m missing?


You can confirm what you think you heard.


depends what you’re aiming for. Exposure or listening comprehension etc. I find learning new words easier if I’ve heard them used contextually and can see the written form, but for listening comprehension I don’t use them.


If you’re going for harcore listening practice, unsubbed is probably better. Though I agree with what Leebo says. It became easy focus on what I heard as time went on, and subs now easily confirm that I heard and understood correctly.

And seeing it written as well as hearing it somehow makes common words and phrases stick out to me more than just with listening. Also: if I solely listen, an unknown word is just an unknown. With subs, I may be able to instantly assign a meaning to it due to context and the meaning of the kanji used. So subbed listening teaches me more than unsubbed.

I also get use out of subs in other apects. Depending on the delivery in a given scene, I read the sub line before they line is fully spoken That’s a fun game of “did I recall that kanji reading correctly?”

But whatever works, works. ^^


For listening practice, no you shouldn’t use subs. You can toggle them to check to confirm/if you get stuck, but by default you should only be listening to practice listening.


I’m going for listening comprehension at the moment. That does make sense how it would be more useful later on, when missing a word becomes the exception rather than the rule. The issue is that right now I’m “confirming” most things I hear, which evolves into me just reading the subtitles instead of listening. Perhaps it’s better for me to not understand and keep listening in that case.

Seeing that Japanese has more homophones than many other languages, subtitles can be useful. If you watch Japanese TV variety shows, they do put subtitles on a lot (albeit not every single thing) that is said.

Sounds like you have them on at the same time… Just don’t do that at first.

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Homophones are really tricky, especially when they start trotting out long, uncommon jukugo words. Combined with the speed, I barely have time to try to comprehend them.

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Sounds like I should stick to subtitles off by default for the time being. I’m trying to get my comprehension up as much as possible for the N3 test in December, so I’ll just have to not understand things for a bit.

You can use LLN for chrome and blur subs then just click them or a hotkey to display them. I did that many moons ago and thought it was cool

The main benefit is that it turns some incomprehensible input into comprehensible input. If your comprehension is high, turn them off. If it’s too low without them, turn it on.

When I stop a Netflix movie to study the Japanese subtitle, they display the movie’s title just on top of the subtitle which makes it impossible to read. Very annoying!

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