Does Reading Subtitles Count as Reading?

Whether we are watching movies, TV shows, or animated series, subtitles have become normal in today’s world as more and more people are now watching video content that is voiced in another language. As such, the only possible way for us to understand the dialogue is through the subtitles. And even in some cases especially for those who have hearing problems or for those who have to tone the volume up in movies and shows voiced in a language they understand, using subtitles can be quite helpful. But, as many more people prefer watching movies and shows over reading books, does reading subtitles still count as reading?

Reading subtitles doesn’t count as reading books and other forms of literature. That’s because reading subtitles won’t help yield the same cognitive. While reading subtitles may still help improve coordination between your eye and your mind, it still isn’t the same as reading a book.

True enough, reading subtitles may still help develop your reading skills but you have to understand that there is still an entirely different experience than you can garner out of reading books. However, just because your choice of literature is movies and TV series, it doesn’t mean that reading subtitles have no value. And that is what we are here to discuss more about in this article.

Do Subtitles Count as Reading?

With how the world has been trending towards the future as literature has found all sorts of different forms, people are now using movies and TV shows as their primary form of entertainment more and more while also shying away from books and other forms of printed literature that are based heavily on texts.

By making use of subtitles, people get to understand what is happening in the film more as they read the dialogue between the characters. And even if the language spoken can be understood, there are some instances where people just prefer to use subtitles so that they can actually read and better understand the words and sentences spoken by the characters in the movie or show.

But is reading subtitles the same as reading an actual book in today’s digital world where old school literature such as printed books are no longer as popular as they once were? The conventional answer is yes, they are the same. After all, reading is reading, right?

Well, that actually isn’t the case even though reading subtitles in a movie or show is still a form of reading. The reason why reading subtitles and reading an actual book are very different from one another is the fact that you don’t get to develop the same kind of cognitive results when you are simply reading subtitles.

To put it in simpler terms, when you are reading subtitles, your eyes and mind are working in unison to understand what is happening as your eyes read the subtitles while watching what is happening in the movie or show all while your mind is processing the meaning of the dialogue in the subtitles. But it ends there because your mind no longer has to work as hard to picture out what is happening.

Meanwhile, in comparison to reading a book, your eyes don’t get to effectively see what is actually happening in the story because there are no pictures, images, or videos. Instead, as your read a book, everything is processed in your mind as the words you read all convey and describe the setting and the events that are happening in the story as opposed to subtitles, which only describe the dialogue between the characters.

So, when you are reading the book, your mind isn’t only processing the dialogue between the characters but is also processing and imagining the actual setting and the events that are taking place in the book. This allows you to yield greater cognitive results that improve the way your mind works whenever it is imagining or picturing out details and events based solely on the vagueness of words and sentences.

In the same way, reading a book also improves your reading comprehension better because you have to actually understand every word and sentence to get a good picture of what is happening in the story as opposed to movies and shows, where you can easily still understand what is happening even without reading every word in the subtitle.

That said, as entertaining as watching films and shows may be, there is still something valuable about reading actual books, which are able to help develop our minds in a better way as opposed to reading the subtitles we see on a screen.

Pros of Watching with Subtitles

Even though reading books is still a better form of reading in comparison to reading subtitles, there are still some advantages that we get when we are reading subtitles in movies and shows regardless of whether we understand the language spoken or not.

  • Subtitles help you understand what is happening in the film or show.
  • It is better for people with hearing problems to make use of subtitles.
  • Using subtitles at night when everyone is sleeping is a good way to understand the dialogue.
  • Subtitles bridge the gap between different languages.
  • Reading subtitles will improve the coordination between your eyes and mind.
  • You can learn character names and the proper spelling of names and words by using subtitles.

Cons of Watching with Subtitles

At the same time, there are still some advantages in relation to watching movies and shows using subtitles.

  • You would have to split your attention between the film or show and the subtitles.
  • Reading subtitles can tire you out faster than watching movies or shows without subtitles.
  • There are times that you won’t be able to properly appreciate the on-screen action when you are too busy reading subtitles.
  • Multi-tasking between watching the movie or show and another different activity can be nearly impossible with subtitles on.

Is It Better to Watch with Subtitles?

Regardless of whether you are watching a movie or show using a foreign language, there are those who prefer to use subtitles even though they can understand the language spoken by the characters. But, is there really a good reason to use subtitles even if you can understand the language? Or, better yet, is it actually better to watch with the subtitles on?

Honestly, it can be too tiresome to try to multitask between watching the events on the screen and reading the subtitles especially if you aren’t used to doing so. Moreover, reading subtitles may end up fatiguing your eyes faster in comparison to simply watching the movie or show without the subtitles on.

However, if you compare the experiences between watching with no subtitles and watching with subtitles, you will see how they differ from one another. For one, using subtitles can help make it easier for you to understand the plot and the story as you are actually reading the dialogue instead of just listening to it. It is also easier for you to truly understand the meaning behind what the characters are saying without rewinding over and over again just to understand the plot and what is happening.

Another difference is in relation to how you get to learn more when the subtitles are on. Aside from the fact that names and spellings of words are easier to learn when you are using subtitles, there are some words such as those used in medical dramas and shows that you can actually learn by using subtitles. It isn’t much but the experience is entirely different as opposed to only relying on what is happening on the screen and what the characters are saying.

Generally, if you want the easy route and you have no problems understanding the plot and the dialogues, there might be no use for you to turn the subtitles on. But if you prefer to get to know the names of the characters and the difficult words mentioned while also having a better understanding of the plot, it would be better for you to watch movies and shows with the subtitles on.


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