Why can’t I just get subtitle free on my own?

Oct 5, 2017 | motivation | 2 comments

Watching films and series is one of your favourite things to do. So surely, getting subtitle free is just a question of spending enough time on Netflix? I mean, once you’ve binge-watched enough series, you’ll have a breakthrough one day and won’t need the subtitles any more. Right?


It’s what we all hope for, isn’t it? If you just continue doing what you love, watching series or films in English every evening, one day everything will fall into place. Everything will magically click in your brain and the subtitles will disappear.


If only real life were like the movies. You’d be the hero of your own story and solve your subtitle problem. All within the 2-hour timeframe of a feature film.


But you know from reading this blog that just listening is not enough. It’s an illusion. You think you’re making progress, but in reality, you’re going round in circles.


Plus, you’re a classic introvert. Your dream Friday night is hanging out by yourself in front of your laptop watching old episodes of Gilmore Girls.


But when you’re on your own trying to understand without subtitles, you want to smash up your laptop and just read a novel instead.


  • You didn’t catch that bit, so you rewind.
  • You listen again, but you still don’t know what they’re talking about.
  • You panic, but you don’t want to put the subtitles on, because you have an advanced level. Subtitles are for babies. Or wimps. Not you.


And what’s worse: you think you’re the only one is this situation.


Am I the only one?


In your country, you’re the one who’s mastered English among your friends and family. They know you watch series in English. You’re the English-speaker in their circle. To them, you’re a linguistic genius.


They wouldn’t get it if you started talking about how hard Lorelai Gilmore is to understand without subtitles. Especially after she’s had a couple of coffees.


So you feel worse.


You’ve got no one to talk to.


When you go online looking for help, you can’t find it.


On fan websites or Facebook groups, people are:

  • reminiscing about their favourite episodes
  • discussing obscure fan theories
  • sharing screenshots of the Gilmore Girls cast in current films and series
  • selling novelty mugs and phone cases
  • sharing giphs and funny quotes


No-one’s talking about the subtitle struggle.

You don’t have to do it all alone


As an introvert and someone who hated group projects at school and uni (guess who ended up doing all the work?), I get it.


You want to hang out by yourself. Well, you plus the fictional characters you’re watching. You want to escape into a magical world, be it Westeros, contemporary New York or Edwardian Britain.


But reality catches up with you when you realise the dialogue is impossible to catch.


So, instead of struggling on your own, why not find your tribe online, in a place where people get you.


A tribe where people

  • love TV series too, but want to throw their laptop out of the window most weekends.
  • need the subtitles, but feel bad about it.  
  • have a high level of English, but no-one to talk to about what they’re going through.


Of course, if you want you can get rid of the subtitles yourself. But it might take you a few years. You’ll give up a few times. You won’t know what you’re supposed to do to improve your situation. And you won’t have anyone to talk to about it.

Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?

Let’s get together


That’s why I want to bring a group of subtitle freedom fighters together this October to watch a scary film or series in time for Halloween.


You won’t have to do any “group work” like in high school.


You’ll have individual work to do each week to help you understand the clips we’re working on:  


  • Dictations
  • Fixing bad subtitles
  • Learning new vocab on Memrise
  • Reflecting on your experiences
  • Watching my feedback


The bonus is the group space to hang out in, ask questions and get support.


I’ll be in there over the 4 weeks giving you extra support, answering your questions and helping you with difficult dialogue or complicated cultural references.


You’ll realise that everyone struggles with the same things.


  • Everyone born outside the USA (including me) doesn’t understand American cultural references
  • Some sections of dialogue are impossible for everyone to understand, including me and other native speakers
  • You’re normal if you can’t catch some of the simpler words in English: articles, auxiliary verbs, negatives
  • Some movie plots are tricky to follow and the dialogue just adds to the confusion  
  • No-one has an English vocabulary of 1 million words, not even highly educated natives


And the benefits extend beyond the course and group.


  • You can find movie buddies to hang out with to discuss your favourite films and series
  • You can make new friends from all over the world
  • You can find a podcast partner to chat with if you’re feeling brave enough


If you want to get subtitle free on your own, that’s great.


If you want my support and that of a group of like-minded subtitle freedom fighters, click here to find out more and join us for Subtitle Freedom Fighters.


I’ve got 10 spots available and the deadline for enrollment is Friday October 13th at midnight.


See you on the other side, subtitle freedom fighter.

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