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Intermediate Spanish: Understanding spoken Spanish
Intermediate Spanish: Understanding spoken Spanish

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5 Using subtitles

The rise in popularity of subtitled television programmes over the last few years means that more people are accustomed to using them. In a language learning environment, watching videos with subtitles can support not only your listening and reading comprehension skills, but also your knowledge of grammar and vocabulary.

In this section you are going to explore and practise the use of subtitles to support your comprehension and your language learning while watching and listening to Dr Celia Sánchez-Ramos.

Box 5: Intralingual and interlingual subtitles

Subtitles support your language learning by helping you visualise what you hear, especially if the language is challenging (either because of the vocabulary or grammar), because it is too fast and you cannot distinguish word boundaries, or because you are listening to an unfamiliar pronunciation, accent or register.

Interlingual subtitles

Standard subtitles are also known as interlingual subtitles (videos in foreign language with mother tongue captions). Watching a video with interlingual subtitles helps your brain process a foreign language by making connections, linking image, sound and text – the last two being distinct sets of verbal support – with translation. (Danan, 1992).

Intralingual subtitles

Intralingual subtitles (sound and subtitles in the same language) are believed to help improve listening and word recognition by helping students to identify sounds and distinguish between words.


While subtitles appear on the screen simultaneously with the spoken word and are not necessarily an exact match of what is being said, transcripts offer a word-for-word transcription of the audio in the video and are available as a separate document. In this course you have various opportunities to use them for your learning of Spanish.