Subtitles or Dubbing: Film Question for IELTS Speaking

Recent I posted a list of questions for the topic of Film that appears frequently in IELTS speaking part 1, part 2 and part 3. You can see the full list of questions for film on this page: Film IELTS Questions

The question below is one of the common  questions and some students asked me to offer a model answer for it.


  • Is it better for a foreign film to be dubbed or subtitled?


Dubbing: to replace the original language of the film and use voice actors of the country viewing it

Subtitles: to have a translation of the foreign film written on the screen throughout the movie, but keep the original language of the movie.

Model Answer

I think subtitles are best for documentaries and slow paced movies, but fast paced action movies should be dubbed because it is too distracting to read the subtitles and watch the action at the same time.

Further Points:

Dubbed Films

  1. Films that are dubbed help you learn a foreign language.
  2. Changing the language also means altering the experience of the film.
  3. Some times the voice actors for dubbed movies do not match how the character looks.
  4. Dubbing can be annoying to see the actors’ lips moving at a different pace to the words spoken by the voice actor.
  5. Cartoons and animated films can easily be dubbed.
  6. subtitles sometimes take up too much of the screen so you can’t see everything.


  1. If you are reading the script of the movie, you miss the expressions of the actors and the dramatic scenes.
  2. Not all countries can afford to pay voice actors to dub all films. Subtitles are cheaper.
  3. It is good to hear the real voices of the actors in the movie.
  4. Children can lose interest in a film that has subtitles and can’t read fast enough.

Your Opinion

  1. Do you think foreign films should be dubbed or subtitled?


Feel free to post your answers below in the comments box below.

Sharing ideas is one way to help you all develop.

All the best




  1. In my opinion subtitled films are better than dubbed ones because watchers can learn the original language used in the film. Me as an example I love watching Korean dramas which enables me to learn the language and expression of koreans. It can help me when I decide to visit Korea in the future.

  2. Yes, certainly. In my opinion, foreign films should be dubbed or subtitled which enable people from different countries can enjoy movies from all around the world. This brings understanding of different cultures and more exposure of various field of art to the people. Especially who love cinema, I mean passionate about cinema could enjoy variety of themes, locations, musics etc. This makes good quality of films as well.

  3. Passang Tshering says

    Foreign movies and documentaries are good to be subtitled, because there is no use of viewing movies and documentaries if we don’t really understand the whole concept. The concept and theme would be understood only through language. More over, we can learn foreign languages and discover many vocabulary

  4. Do you think foreign films should be dubbed or subtitled?
    For me, it is better to be subtitled because at least i can read what the actors are saying especially when the speaker is not clear enough to hear their conversation. Also, i can pick up some vocabularies from the movie that i’m viewing native.

  5. Gloria brown says

    In my opinion, Is best dubbing films because I am an auditory learner, it make more sense for me to watch the actions and listen to the voice. However a visual learner individual will certainly prefer subtitling to dubbing. So in all I think it’s individual that matters.

  6. Depending on the genre of a film, it may differ. For example,in crime films , u may not keep up with the story if u miss a word, so dubbing should be an option, but as to horror films picture speaks louder than words,so to speak, and I personally would rather have subtitles cos suspense and nail-biting scenes are more important than dialogus and as a result of which subtitles ae a better match.

  7. Renex Rozario says

    Thank you Liz.

  8. In my opinion it should have both options dubbed and subtitles. Sometime I am being lazy and don’t want to read, during the time I prefer dubbed movies are better. And for the movies where I want to really understand what actually actors are saying word by word, I prefer to read as many times in the movie, they speak very fast and I couldn’t understand what did they say.

  9. Hanipa Asmita says

    In my opinion, it would make sense if we read the subtitle of a movie than hear another language be spoken throughout the movie’s playing. Even the subtitles are waste the screen but we still can enjoy watching that movie than hearing not original language of that film.

  10. Liz,
    Please can I ask the examiner to explain the meaning of a word? This is because, in the example given above, I thought that dubbing means unlawful copying of a movie. Could I ask the examiner to explain what dubbing means?
    My speaking test is today in the afternoon. I would appreciate if you reply me.

    Many thanks for this forum.

    • In part 1, you can ask for the question to be repeated. The examiner can’t explain anything. In part 2, you don’t ask anything. In part 3, you can say “could you explain that please”. The IELTS test is an informal test, be chatty and friendly. Keep talking until the examiner decides to move to a new question.

  11. As per my opinion, Hollywood movies should be dubbed but also have subtitle that assist to learn Internationl language which is helpful for learners.

  12. Do you think foreign films should be subtitled or dubbed.

    In my opinion, subtitling a foreign film helps you to learn new words and add to your volcabulary while dubbing a film distracts you because most times, the voice do not sync with the mouth movements of the actor. This is the reason why I prefer subtitled movies during my childhood days and I learnt a lot from them.

    Hello Liz,
    I have my speaking test tomorrow, please wish me well. I am a great fan of yours.


  13. buddhika says

    I did my ielts exam in srilanka.
    realy I couldnt believe all the questions are related to liz questions not only that but also lot of them are equal and asked samely.
    in the first part examiner asked about celebrating parties.(birthdays)
    que card is about a surprise party
    section 3 about national days.
    thank you soo much madam liz…… I got band 6.5 with out joining for a ielts class.

  14. Luana Silva says

    I prefer to watch subtitled, because I think the voices never matches the lips. However I think is always important to have de doubbed option due to accessibility. Blind or anyone who cannot read can have better experiencies with this option.

  15. Hello Liz.. Thanks for your help, my speaking test is tomorrow and I hope to perform well.

    In my opinion, dubbing can be of great benefit to illiterates who are unable to read the subtitles in their local languages but can understand if spoken to.

    • Good luck! Remember to be chatty, open and friendly. Add plenty of extra detail and keep talking until the examiner decides to move on.

  16. “1. Films that are dubbed help you to learn a foreign language.”
    I think it’s the opposite. Subtitles help you to learn a foreign language. Dubbed movies are already in the language which the viewer understands. 🙂

  17. Hi Liz,

    Thank you so much for your marvellous help. I am seeking for your blessings for exams. I am a big fan of yours and I am resembling you as my teacher, in my culture teachers are same as God. I am going to take my IELTS exam this week. So please pray for me to get great score.

    Thank you.

  18. karunanidhi says

    My opinion on this would be, to have only subtitles in a regional language of the country or english. My experience on watching dubbed movies with only voice has not been graceful since voice and sound do not sync perfectly. It brings down the excitement of watching a quality movie.

  19. hind hassan says

    hind hassan says:
    in my opinion, I think dubbed movies is better as you will not lose the expressions and senses while watching it in contrast with subtitles movies which is annoying capturing half of the screen and distracting your attention by reading it.

  20. liz i think subtitles are better than dubbing because in this way we enhance our vocab and learn foreign language simultaniously.

  21. Anunkor Chisom says

    Thank you very much Liz

  22. Elizabeth Momoh says

    Dear Liz,
    I am a new subscriber. After going through your lectures i am convinced that i am going go pass my Ielts exams which is due soon.

    Thank so much.
    Elizabeth Momoh.

    • Remember that one of the main aspects of success in IELTS is thoroughly understanding the test. You need to learn about the marking, the rules – everything. Review this page: and then go through all the other main pages for each section of the test – main pages are accessed through the RED BAR at the top of the website.

  23. From my perspective, it’s better to be subtitles because of its a chance to improve knowledge of foreign language, and you can enhance the ability to read faster that’s mean improve your reading skills
    such as nowadays I can read faster than 5 years ago

  24. I think , watching dubbing film would be monotonous experience for many reason , firstly you loss the actors feeling and expression . Secondly changing the language will not help you to understand and digest the culture like reading translating books you miss the attraction that the original language give you .On the other hand , dubbing carton and kids film help them to build their native language and easy to concentrate in the story .

  25. GAURAV ANAND says


  26. In my view, foreign films should be dubbed. Dubbing is a professional technique and needs to be done precisely to make the movie watching experience a joy. One can enjoy the film by listening to the dialogues while watching expressions. Yiu wint be missing any scene or act when you are immensely involved in the emotions.
    Subtitles can be distracting and annoying, capturing half screen. Everyine is nit a good reader, by the time one is finished reading the scene is gone. Alot of people cannot even read and films are for broad audience. There can be some typing errors in the subtitles which can chage the meaning of original script.

  27. Yes I think foreign movies be dubbed because mostly people don’t understand by this it’s wastage of time as well as money

  28. blessy sujith says

    well,i think yes because in a foreign film we dont understand the language using in that movie that time we are seeing that film means its quiet difficult and not concentrate on it.thatswhy subtitles should be added in other languge movies.

  29. In my opinion foreign movies should be dubbed ,so it will have more interest to view the cinema..dubbing must be done by professionals, otherwise it will be bored to seen in the screen.lip movements and characters have the the same pace.. subtitles also needed for other language movies,so they can easily understand the storey or the scenarios..sub titles should be written by clear spelling and letters size also big to seen clearly…

  30. Rodgers kipchumba says

    Yesterday i did my speaking test and woow..its like you knew everything i was to be asked..i was given a topic of films and music. Thanks soo much

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