Learn Japanese Visually Through Netflix!

Published March 20th, 2020

Picking up a new language is hard work. You’ll find yourself in the routine of hitting the textbooks every morning and exercise worksheets every night. The Japanese language is one of the hardest languages to learn, but don’t be disheartened by that. Anything is possible! Think of the satisfying feeling of picking up a difficult language!

The best way to keep yourself motivated in learning a new language is by making the learning process fun. What’s more fun than Netflix? If you could learn Japanese while binge-watching your favorite show or movie, would you say no to that? Of course not!

Netflix as Visual and Hearing Aids

Netflix is a famous streaming service for subscribed users to watch countless TV shows, movies, documentaries and more. Why not use it as an innovative way to learn Japanese by immersing yourself into a world where you see and/or hear the Japanese language only?

Whether it is having English subtitles on for a Japanese movie or turning on the Japanese dubbing for an English show (with English subtitles still on, of course), these methods trigger different areas of your brain to work on the absorbing of the new language. It’s different than reading off a page in a textbook. In fact, it’s way better!

It’s also best to note that using Netflix as aids to learning a language is not recommended if it’s the first time you’re hearing Japanese. A lot of the learning tools for Netflix aren’t going to teach the fundamentals and grammar, rather it is the exposure to the language itself. It’ll definitely help your listening skills and build your confidence to speak it.

Extensions for Netflix

The way you can use Netflix to learn Japanese is by using extensions. What are extensions, you ask? Well, they’re a small software program that is embedded into a specific browser that allows you to customise and enhance your experience.

There are various extensions out there for learning languages through Netflix. Most extensions for Netflix are compatible with the Chrome browser. Some are not compatible yet with tablets and smartphones, but they have their own perks to compensate for that.

To decide on which extension is best for you, you have to think about your learning style. Different extensions offer different learning tactics and methods to relay the educational factor. Choose the one that you think best suits you.

1. Language Learning with Netflix


What is it?

This extension is by far the most popular one of them all. Language Learning with Netflix (LLN) is known to be one of the more complete tools out there. It’s only compatible with the Chrome browser, but it’s definitely worth it.

LLN focuses on introducing the new vocabulary of your desired language to learn while watching Netflix. It also helps you to break down sentences spoken during the show. The best part about LLN is that it can work with over 30 different languages! It goes without saying that Japanese is one of them!

How does it work?

LLN shows two subtitles at the same time — one is the native language of the show and the other one is the language you’re learning. In this case, it is Japanese. LLN offers a visual pairing of words in the two different languages.

There are other features included in this extension. Not only do they provide the comparison, you’re also able to highlight the words and find out their translation, pronunciation and ways to use them. There’s also a function where they introduce other less common words that are related and you can study them later.

Why use it?

LLN is the epitome of visual learning. Because of the two reflected subtitles on the screen, your brain is more focused on the comparison of language texts. If you’re so focused, you might even be engrossed in the learning factor than the story line of the show itself!

The LLN extension is also free! The free mode already has many features to assist in your language studies but there’s also the pro mode. This mode gets you more customization including saving the words you encounter and going back to them at a later date. The free version is enough enough, though.

2. Mate Translate


What is it?

This extension is more extensive than the previous one. Mate Translate is not only compatible for laptops but also tablets and phones — both Android and iOS. The specific Netflix extension is available for Chrome like LLN, but also on other browsers including Firefox, Edge and Opera.

Mate Translate covers more languages of up to 103 different languages! With that high of a number, there’s more than a solid chance that Japanese is one of them.

On top of Netflix extension, Mate Translate can also be used for normal web pages, articles and others. Its comprehensiveness is the winning point to this language-learning extension

How does it work?

Mate Translate focuses on the subtitles on Netflix, proving that the subtitles can be a primary tool for language learning. If you have the extension set up on your browser, it’s easy for you to learn the Japanese translation of any specific word that pops up on the subtitles.

It’s as simple as clicking on a word or even a phrase. Mate Translate will provide the learning language’s translation, synonyms and phonetic transcription. If you’d like to learn the correct pronunciation of the word, Mate Translate has that feature too! Click on the speak-out button to listen to the correct pronunciation a couple of times. Save your words to review them later.

Why use it?

While it may not have the comparison subtitles like LLN, Mate Translate is more than a Netflix extension. Even if you use this extension solely for Netflix, there are export functions that allow you to keep the list of words you’ve encountered. This saves you the extra hassle of manually listing it yourself.

3. Subtly


What is it?

The Subtly extension works like the other two Netflix extensions. Even though the extension is able to translate to only 11 languages, it’s still an essential translating extension for Netflix. Japanese is one of them, by the way!

The fact that the producers of this extension is not focusing on the quantity of languages, it goes to show that they prioritise quality. Translations are more reliable for the 11 languages available.

How does it work?

It’s as simple as clicking on a word or phrase you’d like to translate. Subtly helps you to build a vocabulary list while you enjoy streaming your show or movie. After the episode, you can review them again.

This feature allows you to learn and enjoy what you’re watching without the plot information and language content overwhelms you. Subtly helps you collate your desired learning words while you finish watching the show.

Why use it?

While Subtly is less extensive than the others, its translations and in-built dictionary are the most reliable. As there are lesser languages offered, the extension is more focused on building the most quality translations for them. What luck it is that Japanese is one of them!

The Power of Audio and Subtitles on Netflix

Extensions aren’t the only way to learn Japanese on Netflix. Never underestimate the power of combined audio and subtitles!

It may be a level up from using the extensions, but if you don’t mind the challenge and the frequent pauses of the show, these are two great ways to maximize the existing tools on Netflix.

1. Watch a Japanese movie with English subtitles

This is the easiest way to practice your listening of the Japanese language. If you’ve already gotten the hang of the basic grammar, exposing yourself to Japanese shows and movies will definitely boost up your language skill.

Without the help of extensions, there won’t be an automated vocabulary list created for you after the show. Because of that, be sure to have a pen and paper by your side to jot down all the new words you hear.

2. Watch an English movie with Japanese subtitles

This is an even bigger step up from extensions and the previous pointer. Take up the challenge of recognizing the Japanese words in the subtitles to the English words mentioned during the movie.

This helps you to memorize the word you already know vaguely and also exposes you to the Chinese kanji characters in the Japanese language. This method utilizes hearing as well as reading, and with more practice, you’ll be a pro at reading Japanese!

Upsides of Visually Learning

Learning Japanese through Netflix is already too good to be true. On top of picking up Japanese through your desired show or movie, you’re utilizing many learning techniques that work different parts of the brain.

Visually learning activates a different aspect of your learning brain, and who knows, you’ll even discover that it’s easier to learn the language! Learning Japanese through Netflix uses a bit of audio aid as well. This helps you with your listening skills in conversation. and even exams if you have one.

Downsides of Visually Learning

With all good things, there are bad. But it’s not so much of a downside because it can be fixed over time. The one bad point about learning Japanese through Netflix is the inevitable distraction and loss of focus.

You’re bound to want to watch the show at its fullest and feel like skipping the language learning that day. But with self-motivation and perseverance, this distraction can be eliminated and you’ll be even more focused than ever!


Aren’t you sold yet? What better way to study a language than learning it through Netflix? Netflix has a wide range of Japanese movies and shows, as well as anime. A good number of English movies and shows have subtitles in Japanese too. You can use the various tools mentioned above to get started on learning Japanese visually through Netflix!