Movies | How to learn real-life vocabulary from films
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Who doesn’t love a good movie? Polish language films are a great source of learning material for the the aspiring Polish speaker. They can be entertaining too!

Watching movies is an extremely fun way to pick up real-life vocabulary. You might even forget that you’re learning! In this post, I’ll be discussing how you can use IMDb to find Polish films to watch. I’ll also discuss in which circumstances you should use subtitles (and in what language). By the end, you’ll know how to understand an entire Polish movie without subtitles, admittedly with some preparation.

There are more than 1,600 Polish language movies on Amazon alone, so why not dive in and take a look?

Using IMDb to find films

IMDb is an incredible resource to help you work out which Polish language movies to watch. Head to IMDb: Polish and you’ll be presented with an array of options for your viewing pleasure. You can sort by year to find the most recent releases. Next, you can refine your search by genre. Alternatively, use the user rating system to find films you’re likely to enjoy watching over and over again. Anything with a rating over 6.5 is almost certainly worth watching.

If you can’t see the original title, click on the English film title where it will take you to a page containing this information. Once you’ve found what you’re looking for, head to a site like Empik to buy the DVD or Blu-ray. First, make sure that your DVD or Blu-ray player supports Region 2 discs! Alternatively, head to a site like where you can stream a variety of films online.

If you don’t want the hassle of importing films from Poland, Amazon has a wide selection of hundreds of Polish language films for you to enjoy.

Subtitles: Yes or No? And in which language?!

Across the internet, you’ll hear conflicting views about whether you should watch films with or without subtitles. Some argue that doing one as opposed to the other is harmful to your learning. Even those who say that you should watch films with subtitles don’t always agree which language the subtitles should be in.

Rather than sit on the fence, here’s my stance. If you absolutely, positively need to use subtitles, use them – but only if they’re in Polish. My entire method is based around receiving as much comprehensible input as possible. That means understanding the vast majority of what you’re hearing or reading. This makes the choice of whether to use subtitles or not very easy. Can you understand what people are saying without subtitles? If not, turn them on.

So why only Polish subtitles and not English? This is simple. Are you more likely to learn to speak Polish by reading English subtitles or Polish ones? The answer is obvious.

The counterargument debunked

There is a counterargument that watching a Polish film with English subtitles would make everything comprehensible. However, until you have the ability to understand spoken Polish, you’ll probably learn more by doing things the other way around. That’s right – you don’t even have to be watching a Polish language film to learn! Try adding Polish subtitles to an English language film. Try it out on a TED talk now.

The great thing about having Polish subtitles is that you can look up any words that you don’t know. Subtitles are a mixed bag, however. Although they can aid comprehension, they don’t always match what the people are saying and they can also be distracting. Fortunately, this distracting quality can be used for good, as you’ll learn words throughout the movie as your eyes naturally drift towards them.

How to understand an entire Polish movie without subtitles

By looking at subtitles, you improve your reading skills while neglecting a perfect opportunity to work on your listening. Instead of watching the film with subtitles, you could download the subtitle files for the film in Polish, open the subtitles file in a text editor like Notepad++, where you can select the Central European Windows-1250 character encoding (so that you can see all of the Polish letters) and then add the sentences to Anki using the steps detailed in my method. Once you’ve memorised the cards, you’ll understand the whole film without any aids at all!

[alert-warning]TL;DR: Check out IMDB for a list of Polish language films which you can watch. Add the Polish subtitles to Anki to allow you to understand the film unaided.[/alert-warning]
Which Polish films have you seen?
[alert-announce]A lot of the Polish films that I’ve seen were quite odd – ‘Sztuczki‘, ‘Ogród Luizy‘ and ‘Pod Mocnym Aniołem‘ to name a few. Which Polish films have you seen? Leave a few recommendations in the comments below.[/alert-announce]

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