Subtitles Vs. Dubbing – Which is Better?

Angel Tello, Student Journalist

Today, people have much more access to media from all over the world than they did in the past. Because of this, we are more exposed to different cultures, ideas, and languages. Although this is a wonderful thing, it brings up the interesting question of which way of watching this media is superior: with subtitles or with the words dubbed over? Many people feel very strongly about this, so I’d like to discuss the pros and cons of each option here so you can decide for yourself. 


Pros to Subtitles:

When we read subtitles while listening to the original language, we are exposing ourselves to new sounds and ways of speaking. This can help us become more familiar with new languages. Also, Reading the words in English (or whatever language you prefer) while listening to the original language can help you learn a new language. According to Mx. Mars, an English teacher at MTS Secondary, “I’m for subs! DID YOU KNOW that turning the captions on any given TV show (even if it’s in English already) can help boost your reading speed?” Also, when you watch with subtitles, the voices match up with the mouths which is really important to some people. 


Pros to Dubbing:

If you’re busy reading subtitles, you might miss a lot of what happens in the movie. Sometimes you might miss important things happening in the background or miss facial expressions and body language cues. Also, if you’re watching something that is heavily reliant on culture, especially when it comes to comedy, sometimes they dub in jokes that make more sense to that audience. Ms. Selander, an English/EL teacher at MTS, said that her husband, who is from Mexico, prefers to watch shows like South Park and Family Guy in Spanish because they change the jokes to match Mexican cultural references.


Personally, I think the pros of subtitles outweigh the pros of dubbing. I feel like it is a more authentic experience because I can hear the voices of the characters and that helps me to understand how they feel. I also like hearing new languages and becoming more familiar with the other languages of the world.