Subtitles for learners

I’ve been wanting subtitles for learners for S4C for ages, and have finally decided to just do some myself. I’m hoping there might be some people here willing to help, because it’s quite time consuming.

Subtitles are currently designed – and rightly so – for people with hearing impairments, so they aren’t necessarily direct transcriptions of the Welsh but a description of what is said. Sometimes that is indeed a transcription, but not always. And the English tends to be more about translating the meaning, which does not always provide a word-by-word translation.

When I think about “learners’ subtitles” I’m thinking of a Welsh transcription, with tricky vocabulary provided in English, in brackets.


Fi’n teimlo (feel) bod Manhattan,
yr ynys (island) a’r ddinas ei hun (itself)…

I’m currently working on Sgwrs Dan y Lloer efo Matthew Rhys, because I really enjoyed it and subtitle files are available for both English and Welsh.

I’m working in a Google Spreadsheet, so if anyone fancies helping, please send me a private message.

When it’s done, we can provide both an .srt (subtitles) file, and a readable file so that you can just read a long with it as you watch.


Subtitles on a real programme or film usually cannot be word by word because there’s no way someone can read that fast! Ar they would cover half of the screen! :scream:

However for understanding/learning I agree that transcriptions are a very useful way to practice. We had talked about it somewhere (I’ll post the link if I find it).

I’d be interested in helping- or at least trying! :sweat_smile:

(sending private message)

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Yes, obviously subtitles for hearing impaired people serve a very specific purpose and are designed for that purpose, and it’s not the same as for learners.

But what I’ve found on this project already is that really paying attention to seeing the words in Welsh whilst focusing on the sounds is helping me to recognise words that I, in fact, already know. I’ve always struggled with aural comprehension, so this is a great way to improve that without getting stuck in the subtitle trap – reading the English subtitles and not truly listening to the Welsh.

Plus, of course, with on demand TV, we can watch and rewatch as often as we like if we don’t catch something first time!

Thanks for you DM - will reply forthwith!

What a brilliant idea. I also struggle with aural comprehension and have started watching S4C with Welsh subtitles as my next stage of learning. I will send you a DM although I don’t know how much time I will have to help.

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Thanks for your DM, David. I’ll send over an email at my lunchtime and we can see how it goes. I think it’s a ‘many hands make light work’ situation - a little time from a lot of people will do the trick.

I’d like to help too but must confess to being useless with modern technology.

Judy Walsby

Hi Judith,

Have you ever used Google Sheets before? Or Excel? It’s all relatively simple, so I think if you’re happy in either of those tools, you’ll manage just fine.

Please do send me a DM with your email, and then I can explain a bit more.


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This is fantastic! From experience of learning Flemish, when I was living in Belgium, it really helps. Not sure I can help at the moment as my Welsh isn’t good enough yet, which is frustrating. I would definitely be a user, though. And would help in the future if I can


It’s taken me two months, with some help from various folks (thank you!), but finally we have some subtitles for learners for Sgwrs Dan y Lloer with Matthew Rhys:

You should be able to read this document, and please do comment if you spot any egregious errors. And if you want an actual subtitles file, just copy and paste into a text file and save with an .srt extension.

What took the time was trying to make the Welsh as accurate of a transcript as possible, and I know there are some bits where I couldn’t make out what he was saying so it’s not perfect. So you spot any grammatical or spelling errors, please leave a comment in the Google Document and I’ll fix it.

Meanwhile, I hope that this helps with your aural comprehension. I know that doing this has certainly helped mine!