You can use audiovisuals to learn a lot -- you can learn to listen (understand) and to speak with a natural rhythmn and intonation (listen and repeat!). You can learn vocabulary and non-literally-translated sentences, which means it'll help you learn to THINK in English.
Subtitles should only be used as ONE of the ways of exploiting the same audiovisual material. If you watch audiovisuals using subtitles you make you ear dependant on written script and… YOU WANT TO BECOME AN INDEPENDENT LISTENER! Life has no subtitles, so it's not a good idea. Subtitles should only be used in specific training, ie when you want to check on this or that sentence or learn more vocabulary/expressions. And whenever you use them, then you need to watch the stuff again WITHOUT subtitles, to help your ear not become dependant.
HOW TO WORK WITH AUDIOVISUALS (an example for Intermediate Level)
Use one episode of a TV series you like each term (or each month)! Watch it once a week. It is not there for you to have the time of your life, but to help you learn English, so don’t get bored with it, because you have tons of work to do with it. We learn using the same things over & over in various ways. An example…
First Things First!
Get Season 1 of Friends
Get the script of episode 1 (8 pages)
Watch the episode without subtitles! Just relax and watch
Then read the script
Then watch again or do this on a second day
Another possibility for your first day…
Read the script
Put it away
Watch the episode
A bit of Listen and Repeat! Skim the script looking for sentences you understood well and can say fluently!
Underline in your copy a few sentences you wish to learn and practice
Watch the episode (or part of it, depending on your time) and stop after they say your selected sentences, repeat! Another possibility is that you say them at the same time (with the same intonation)!
Read aloud the script, trying to identify well the parts you understand and those you don’t.
Watch it again scanning for the parts you didn’t understand well. Listen hard! If there is no improvement, don’t worry. Next time. If there is, BE AWARE OF THAT!
You need to be aware of your progress, not only of what you do not know…
You can use one episode for one or two weeks and then use some other audiovisual. Then go back to that episode. You’ll be amazed how much more you understand! You’ll even wonder why you didn’t understand at first!
Send in your comments and other methods or ideas which you use while working with audiovisuals.
Related Links: Check out the ideas on how to work on your listening skills at How to Learn - How to listen. Check out our Movies & More section under Audios, and our Scripts section under Library.