We Germans are the number one dubbing nation

Another rant about us Germans dubbing every American movie, TV series and documentary (the rant is in German too :wink:

TOEIC listening, photographs: Working with an ox

Don’t you hate it when they do that?! I know I would!

Would you say that dubbing is an expression of nationalism to you, or what?

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In Germany it’s more case of laziness than nationalism.

TOEIC listening, photographs: A game of tennis

They dub movies in other countries, too, and there, most often just one or two people dub a whole movie since they don’t have the budget to pay voice-over artists for every character. That, to me, is even worse than what’s being done in Germany. A lot of people can’t truly enjoy a movie if they can’t concentrate on the scenes and scenery because they are preoccupied with reading the subtitles. This is also why a lot of Americans don’t enjoy European movies (other than thinking that European movies are bizarre) and prefer watching American movies. It’s just more pleasant to watch a movie in one’s own language.


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I see, so you’re too lazy to read the subtitles? Well, I think dubbing is not very helpful when it comes to learning foreign languages. It’s certainly of no help at all when you’re trying to develop your listening skills and improve your pronunciation. Which means that you might have to work much harder later on because you were lazy to begin with. :slight_smile:

I suppose it depends a lot on what you have grown up with. I find out of sync lip movement a lot more distracting than reading subtitles.

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Most Americans won’t watch dubbed or subtitled shows, and sometimes you’ll see Americans making satirical shows that imitate badly dubbed movies, mostly gladiator movies or kung fu movies, showing the dubbing way out of sync.

One of the funniest jobs of dubbing I’ve ever seen was a movie called “Soul Brothers of Kung Fu”, where two young Chinese martial artists have the voices of elderly English aristocrats and an African character has the voice of an Englishman trying to sound like an American black but failing. It had me hooting with laughter.

Sometimes dubbing improves a show. In the 1980s I found the puppet character “Alf” extremely annoying, but in German I liked him. There are other cases of American shows that weren’t very good in English but were hilarious hits after being dubbed into German or other languages.

It’s true that when Americans watch European movies they expect something bizarre. I remember watching one German comedy (probably a made-for-TV movie) that I found very funny, but at one point the main character’s girlfriend gets angry and leaves him. Suddenly, I found myself thinking, “Oh, no. This is a German film, so this is the part where the whole thing turns dark and the guy eventually kills himself.” I was going to shut off the DVD player, but I kept it on and found that the story was comical right to the end. I’d seen a lot of German films before that, so I guess I’d been conditioned by those to expect things to turn dark.

There is a certain segment of the American population that thinks any French film is “art”. They will sit through the most worthlessly amateurish piece of junk ever produced in France with the idea that it only seems like junk because the French are more sophisticated than we are. This is similar to the phenomenon where Americans will watch a terrible British comedy and pretend to enjoy it, because they think that British humor is somehow “more intelligent”.

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Living in Germany, I think it’s sometimes hilarious how they dub films. Watching a Carry On film in German is quite an experience. We also sometimes watch films in English in Holland, where they are given Dutch subtitles. This has helped me to learn quite a lot of Dutch, and I even know now if what the subtitle says isn’t what is being said in the film.

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The low budget voice overs are much better than the high end dubbed versions because with the voice overs you can still hear the original voices. A dubbed movie is always more expensive than the original version. For some reason, none of the German over the top providers offer a decent amount of content in the original versions. This shows that German school system is extremely ineffective because even after several years of state funded English language tuition a German is not able to understand even average conversations in English.

TOEIC listening, photographs: Worker at a building site

The problem with the German system of teaching English is that they normally concentrate completely on grammar. The pupils have almost no opportunity to speak or hear English - which is where I come in!

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The problem with the German system is that it trying to teach the students English. Instead, it should try to teach the students how to learn English.

TOEIC listening, photographs: Three kids in the snow

I agree with you, Torsten, but I can easily see that idea going bad also, if they try to teach kids how to learn English without teaching them any English. It’s conceivable that they would try that.

In the US, there’s at least one whole generation of people with very weak knowledge of certain subjects because they were taught them with a similar concept in mind. They were taught the idea that you didn’t actually need to know facts, as long as you knew where to look them up when you did need them. This means that a lot of them hardly know any basic information. For example, I had a lot of students at universities who didn’t know where Ontario was, even though it is only a 20-minute drive from where they grew up. This is a problem, because people who have more facts in their heads can make better decisions faster, and there are simply situations where, even with modern technology, people don’t have the time to look up information when they should have it. (For example, you can’t pull out your smartphone in the voting booth or in court and look things up.)

I’m sure, for example, that in the American educational system, teachers would use the concept of teaching kids how to learn a language as an excuse not to require them to gain any proficiency in it at all. The teachers would claim they’re giving kids the ability to learn the language when they need to, so they won’t actually feel they have to require the kids to learn the language itself. But in actual fact, they won’t even require the kids to learn how to learn the language. (This would mean that the smart kids wouldn’t know more than the dumb kids, so everyone will feel “included” and nobody’s feelings will be hurt, at least in the typical American teacher’s mind.)

On the other hand, very small countries do a very good job of teaching their kids how to learn languages. They give them basic theoretical linguistics in elementary school, and this really helps them. This is why an Albanian or a Czech who comes to the US with no English will be quite proficient within a few months, whereas people from larger countries usually struggle with it more.

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So how does a good teacher teach their students how to learn a language?

TOEIC listening, photographs: Four happy skiers

The teacher does a combination of drilling, explaining, exposing (LOTS of exposure), and teaching how to learn on their own. If you practice only one of those four elements, the whole thing falls apart.

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Out of those elements exposure is the most crucial. You can learn a language with drilling or much explanation. You can’t learn any language without massive and constant exposure.

TOEIC listening, photographs: Boarding the schoolbus

You mean “without” massive and constant exposure.

That’s true, but massive and constant exposure isn’t enough, as you’ll see if you go to the right neighborhoods in the US. There are people with massive, constant exposure who still can’t hold a conversation in English after 30 years.

One of my big bugaboos is the “communicative method”, where they throw the baby out with the bathwater and expect learners to pick up the language mainly by communicating. The students end up unafraid to talk or write, but they’re still making very elementary mistakes very often as late as the fourth year. Students who receive adequate explanation and drill won’t usually be writing things like “these bigs dogs” in the fourth year, but those who’ve just been taught by the communicative method will.

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It all comes down to what a person really wants. It’s a fact that the vast majority of all people are like sheep who need to be led. Especially people from countries where there is no or little democracy learners expect the teacher to tell them every step they need to take to learn English.

Only a small percentage of people can think on their own. They can make their own decisions and be their own bosses. They don’t need anyone to tell them how to learn English. They learn the language by exposing themselves to it. When they come across a phrase they don’t understand they post a question on a forum. They post their questions in English rather than their native language. That’s the funny thing with the Germans. Because everything has been germanized and translated for them, they wouldn’t look for phrases like ‘learn English’ or ‘difference between turnover and revenue’. They will always use German phrases and questions expecting answers and explanations in German. This might be effective at the very beginning of their learning process. However, the sooner they start asking simple questions in English the faster they will learn.

The so called ‘communicative method’ isn’t very effective because it forces learners to ‘produce output’ too early. Since they haven’t heard correct English phrase often enough yet they don’t know what sounds correct and what doesn’t. So instead of using phrases they have already heard many times before, they translate words and sentences from their native language into English or make up new English phrases that no native speaker would ever use.

TOEIC listening, photographs: Greetings