How To Use Movies To Learn Persian

Learning Persian is not just about rote memorization of vocab and grammar rules. The LearnPersianOnline approach we recommend most often involves a balanced diet of language lessons, real-world practice, and supplemental media like books, movies, and podcasts for language learning. Films aren’t just for entertainment, after all. Also, they give you a cultural education that enriches your language comprehension. In fact, films expose you to a more natural form of the language with authentic vocabulary and slang, and they teach you to connect words with associated body language.

So yeah, great news for all movie buffs: you can be very productive from your couch. But films will only serve as an effective language learning tool if you approach them in the right way. If you’re serious about this whole studying thing, don’t plan on hitting play and zoning out. And if you’re just interested in movie recommendations, please scroll down to the bottom.

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5 Ways To Use Movies For Learning Persian

1. Pick Your Plot (And Get To Know It)

Selecting the right film is almost as important as how you go about watching it. Just because a movie has cinematic appeal doesn’t mean it’s the best movie to help you progress as a language learner. It’s true you need to choose a film that’s going to keep you engaged, but if you’re just starting out, maybe it helps to start with a storyline you’re already familiar with or to read a synopsis of the plot and characters first so you’re not totally lost when you start watching.

Also, please consider the difficulty level of the dialogue. If you’re not into watching children’s movies (which often have the easiest vocabulary to follow), a light comedy might be a better candidate than a heady and complex psychological thriller that’s probably difficult to “get,” even for native Persian speakers.

2. Subtitles Are Your Friend

There’s an ongoing debate over whether you need to watch films with subtitles or with dubbed voice-overs. It’s often referred to as the subs vs. dubs debate, and actually, we agree with the side of subs. Not only is the dubbing sometimes low-quality, but also it kind of defeats the purpose of what you’re trying to do. Subtitles are sort of like training wheels in the sense that they can help you find your balance in Persian, even if they’re not meant to support you forever.

This is where we get into the importance of repetition when it comes to learning with films. Watching the movie once probably won’t get you optimal results. Instead, please try watching the movie again without subtitles when you feel ready, or you can also challenge yourself to first watch without subtitles, then go back and turn the subtitles on to test how great you comprehended things the first time. And then please watch it a third time sans subtitles sometime in the future. Choose a film you know you’ll enjoy for this exercise.

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3. Break It Up Into Chunks

Actually, you’re not in a movie theater, and you’re not obligated to watch the entire movie from start to finish in one sitting. In fact, it’s probably better for your brain to break it up into small chunks, because you’re going to need to focus on the movie a lot more deliberately than you would be if you were watching the film for pure entertainment. Instead, you can try breaking it up into 15 or 30 minute chunks so that you can process what you’re seeing (and also rewind certain parts you don’t get the first time).

4. Take Notes

In fact, when we say active listening, we mean active listening. Not only does writing things down help you remember them, but also you’ll practice and exercise your listening skills even more if you practice writing down what you hear. It doesn’t have to be great, or even spelled correctly. Start by merely writing down the sounds as you understand them, and then you can rewatching the same part with subtitles to see how you did. Actually, comparing your initial take with the actual transcript can help you identify trouble spots and problems in your listening comprehension, as well as give you a trial-and-error working knowledge of what the language sounds like in practice.

As a bonus, keep track of the new vocab you learn as you make your way through the film. Cultural media is efficient and useful for teaching you colloquial Persian words you wouldn’t have learned otherwise.

5. Take A Mental Break

If the above sounds a little arduous, actually, it’s because it’s not really meant to be a relaxation exercise. But that doesn’t mean you should push yourself to the brink of mental exhaustion. When your brain starts to get a little tired, you can give yourself permission to just enjoy the movie. That way, you can familiarize yourself with the content in a fun and enjoyable way so you’ll be even better prepared to learn the next time you take a stab at it. Plus, even passive listening is a way to increase your exposure to the Persian language.

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