Language lessons across the USA and Canada

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Is dubbing helping?

It’s standard practice in some countries to dub foreign language films into the local language. In Germany some voice actors are as famous as the people whose voices they dub. Santiago Ziesmer, for example, is the German voice for SpongeBob SquarePants as well as being the official dub voice of Steve Buscemi.

However, the Czech Republic’s Education Ministry is in favour of showing more films in their native language, with local language subtitles, saying it is better for the language skills of viewers. From the Prague Post:

“The Education Ministry considers a reduction of dubbed programming one possibility of increasing the language skills of the Czech population,” said ministry spokesman Václav Koukolíček. “Among those who can especially profit are children under 12, whose language skills were shown in a number of studies to improve when they were shown original versions with subtitles.”

There is some resistance to the idea, with opponents arguing that it is harder to follow the show when there are subtitles to read. Television stations are also resistant to the change as they fear a drop in ratings.

In Spain last year I found that I could switch some television channels from English to Spanish language and vice versa. I wonder if other countries offer this option and whether it’s useful for language learning?