Have you ever thought of watching movies in your mother tongue with subtitles?
I mean watching them with subtitles in another language.
This can be useful not only to strengthen your second or third language, but also to retain it, if you take advantage of the possibilities inherent in subtitling.
Of course, it does matter what language the subtitles are in, and also what language the film itself is in – you will need to choose between your native language and the language you are learning.
If we consider this from the perspective of children who grow up speaking several languages, it is apparent that watching subtitled films won’t be very useful until they are about eight years old. But this does not cause problems, since until this age they can still tune in to movies in the language/s they use in their day-to-day lives.
With multilingual children, around the age of eight they may gradually stop actively using one of their languages, and it is precisely this situation, where they may already be understanding less, that may provoke them to switch to programs in other languages or ask for them.
In such cases, it is still a good idea to convince them to watch the film that they would not have chosen due to their weakening language skills and to show it with subtitles in the language they have difficulty using. They can’t avoid reading the sentences that appear on the screen even if they are watching the film in their “strongest” language, when they wouldn’t even need it to read them.
You can try it yourself! (Watch movies in your mother tongue with subtitles in the same language.)
However, can you imagine how helpful it would be for children over eight years old, who often choose to answer in their stronger language because of a lack of vocabulary in their weaker one, if they could watch movies with subtitles? They would not only improve their language knowledge but would also regularly see the language in its written form. This would also help them a lot in practicing reading.
They can even watch movies in their “stronger” language, with subtitles in the weaker one, if they initially prefer this solution or find it more convenient based on their language skills. This is also more effective than, for example, watching movies in their weaker language with subtitles in their stronger one.
The option offered by subtitling could be used with any language that is no longer being used actively. Of course, this is only in principle, because in practice it also depends on whether the subtitles are available on the given channel or app.
Anyone who already speaks a language well enough can set the subtitles in the same language as the original language they are hearing. This is because new vocabulary is easier to identify if we have seen it in written form and it is harder to just skim over it, as in the case of new vocabulary heard only once, whose meaning we infer from the context. It is more difficult for us to activate vocabulary after only hearing it once, compared to hearing it and also seeing its written form.