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Use Subtitled Video to Improve Your ESL Skills

Using Educational Video to Improve your Learning of English as a Second Language also Improves Your Knowledge of The Style of English used in The Classroom 

With approximately 10% of K-12 students and children in America being an English as a Second Language learner, ESL students are considered to be the fastest growing American population.

Research has established that captioned videos, otherwise known as video subtitles, help English language learners significantly improve grammar, vocabulary, listening skills, word recognition, and reading comprehension. Providing these students with the ability to see how English words are spelt and appear, hear how they are pronounced, and better understand the context in which each word is used, means that subtitles or captions, have quickly become an important part of ESL classrooms, because of the benefits and help they provide to the growing community of English language learners.

In the past, many of these children and students found that the effectiveness of the time they spent in the classroom learning other curriculum subjects was limited simply because of their limited understanding of the English language and their ability to understand words of a more technical nature. The teacher of that particular subject was generally limited to the extent to which they could help these students, simply because they did not have the time to act as an ESL tutor, as well as teach the subject that the rest of the class was trying to learn. As a result, the grades of many of these students with limited English language skills, suffered.

However with the launch of Zane Education’s comprehensive online educational video library that was developed specifically for teaching K-12 material, and that entire video library being subtitled, help is at hand for those many English language students.

Markham’s 2001 study looked at the effect of subtitles and captions on students’ video comprehension and revealed that captions had a significant effect on improving comprehension. The 169 students involved, studying intermediate Spanish, were broken into three groups and shown a Spanish video with either Spanish (target language) captions, English (native language) subtitles or no subtitles. Each group was then asked to complete comprehension and writing activities around the video.

The results showed that students watching the film with English or Spanish subtitles achieved significantly better results than the group that watched the video without subtitles, with the English (native language) subtitle group achieving the highest results.

Another study by Huang and Eskey (1999-2000) looked at the effects of closed captioned and subtitled television on the comprehension of intermediate ESL students. With thirty ESL students in total, it found that subtitled television improved their general comprehension, vocabulary acquisition and listening comprehension.

Yet another study carried out with bilingual students found that bilingual students who viewed captioned or subtitled video did better with word recognition. As reported in ERIC Digest, adults learning English as a second language (ESL) and adult Russian language learners improved their vocabulary skills. The Digest also reported that when subtitled video was used with Asian and Hispanic ESL students, they improved their word knowledge and recall skills.

Another ERIC Digest sums up research showing the benefits of subtitled videos for adult and high school ESL students: improved sight vocabulary, vocabulary reinforcement, and even better acquisition of spoken English. In one research project, adult ESL learners repeated subtitles to themselves and paid close attention to the subtitles and achieved significantly improved results.

For those interested in more information about the use of subtitles and captions on video and the benefits it brings to ESL students, we invite you to visit our Downloads page and download some of the White Papers and research documents freely available on the subjects there.

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Video Subtitles - The Missing Piece in Education!

The Benefits of Using Video in The Classroom as a Teaching Resource

The Benefits of Visual Learning in The Classoom

Using Video Subtitles to Improve Reading and Literacy Skills

What The Law Requires in Respect of Video Subtitles

Research Linking The Use of Subtitles and The Ability to Improve Reading and Literacy Skills

The First Research Published by the Department of Education (in Jan 2013) about Using Video Subtitles to Improve Reading and Literacy Skills