It seems like this topic is already pretty fleshed out, but I thought I’d add my own thoughts since this hits pretty close to home.
I agree with others on these general points:
- No Subs is useful for immersion study and just getting your brain to recognize speech patterns in general
- The less Japanese you know, the less watching raw is useful
- If you put on subs, your brain will take the path of least resistance and ignore the speech most of the time
To add to these points:
Spanish Case Study
- I don’t have the source, but I read once a study was done on Spanish speaking immigrants and language learning through TV. It turned out that Spanish subs didn’t improve English at all, whereas no subs improved slightly.
- What improved significantly was English Subs + English Dub
This is to say that having both foreign audio and foreign subs is actually much more useful than audio alone. I would like to add that Japanese is different because if you can’t read kanji, its much harder to push through text you physically or mentally cannot produce an associated sound with.
It will help though if you know the word, but not the kanji. If you see the kanji and hear the word, it helps form a connection in your brain better.
Process of elimination & Easy Lookup
- I found that after a certain point I was able to benefit from English subs only after I could understand everything except for an occasional noun or verb here and there.
- If you understand an entire sentence except one word, it is very easy to focus on the one word you don’t know, and to use the subs as a dictionary.
- I’ve found that quick lookup times is essential for learning new vocabulary, and I would prefer this method of learning (listening) over reading and fumbling with a kanji dictionary every 15 seconds.
Re-immersion & De-rust
- I lived and worked in Japan for a year, but after I came home I took a break from studying out of pure exhaustion. When i came back to study I was actually pretty rusty and almost embarrassed at how much I remembered.
- After binging a few shows over a couple weekends, I was already subconsciously close to where I was before.
- Using TV as a de-rust tool is something I can highly recommend to get your brain working and thinking in another language again.
- Watching passively will make it comes back quick, but doesn’t necessarily improve your skill unless you actively watch.
Helpful study method (intermediate-advanced only)
Watch shows that use real Japanese
Do a short exercise of self-conversation about what you watched
- talk to yourself in Japanese about what you watched and confirm what happened
- Do you agree with the character’s decision?
- Who do you side with from the argument you just watched?
Watch with JP subs, then re-watch segments you didn’t understand with EN subs
Listen and Sing in Japanese
- this isn’t TV and maybe not related, but I find this more helpful than listening to the TV since its repetitive (and you don’t really re-watch TV shows that much), its fun, and its easy to remember lyrics you don’t understand and its fun finally realizing what you’ve been singing about months later by chance.