Why Subtitle Translation Is Great

Translating is often referred to as an excellent method to brush up your intermediate and advanced language skills. I 100% agree on that and while it also makes an exciting and fun job, let me tell you how translating from your target into your native language will not only benefit yourself and your language goals but might also be a huge help for a lot of people all around the world.

“But how will a text that I translate at home help anyone?”, you might ask. And your doubt would be appropriate, would I be talking about mere texts. What I would like to talk about here are the translations of subtitles.

Most language learners are familiar with the advantages of subtitles and have stumbled across them numerous times already. They are of great use when you either don’t speak the language the video is in, or just want to test out how much you actually understand while still making sure not to miss any important information. As a long time anime fan I am eternally grateful for their invention.

NPOs & volunteers

“You still haven’t answered my question.” Yes, and this is why here is how you can not only learn but help others, too!
There are several non profit organizations (meaning that they are free of charge but simultaneously depend on voluntary work from outside, NPO in short) that rely on smart and conscientious people to translate their content and spread information all over the world. Most use programs inside the browser that are easy to navigate and let you concentrate on your task at hand without reading a 100 page long manual before. You pick a video, you translate it, somebody else checks if everything is alright with it and your subtitles get published. Easy as that.

I started as an English to German volunteer translator two years ago. My father-in-law asked me to translate a video he’d like to watch but couldn’t understand because he doesn’t speak English. I was intrigued and jumped at the chance but was shown pretty quickly where my vocabulary gaps lied. The video was technical and contained a bunch of new words, it was quite a challenge at the beginning but I learned a lot in the process. Since then I worked on videos about a wide selection of different topics like space, mythology and biology. The good thing is: Nobody forces you to translate a specific video, so you will always be able to pick whatever you like or whatever might go well with your language plans. Or both!

But wait, there's more!

It isn’t the learning effect alone that makes it so enjoyable and worthwhile. Neither is it the knowledge you will gain while translating something that might be totally outside your (vocabulary) comfort zone. (Although that is a pretty cool side effect.)
It is the thought that you might just have helped somebody out there who is, just like you, struggling with a foreign language or maybe frustrated that they cannot understand a video they’d love to understand. Maybe you just made someone’s day. And that is a fantastic thought!

Long story short, here are some benefits why you might want to give subtitle translation a try:

  • Find and fill your vocabulary gaps.
  • Learn a bunch of cool stuff while doing so.
  • Help others to gain access to new information.
  • You are happy, others are happy, win win!
The NPO I wrote about above is called TED, a platform with a massive amount of interesting and entertaining talks. (You can read more about their mission here.) If you want to check out how to become a volunteer translator yourself, you will find more information on their Get started page. Or just drop me a message, I’d be happy to be of assistance. <3

15th June 2019


It's a me!

Hej! My name is Sandra, I am a language enthusiast from Germany and this is where I document my language learning journey.

I will share my study goals with you, talk about the ups and downs in language learning, try out cool challenges and show you study methods that I found particularly helpful. Making myself accountable here will hopefully give me some extra motivational boosts!

All main articles will eventually be translated into the four languages I am most comfortable with: German, English, Spanish and Japanese. Older posts can be found under "Archive" and are sorted in order of date.

You won't find a comment section under my posts, so if you feel like chatting a bit, or talking about language-y things feel free to message me on social media or write me an email!

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Enjoy your stay and happy studying!