Effects of Bimodal Subtitling of English Movies on Content Comprehension and Vocabulary Recognition

By Etemadi, Aida | International Journal of English Linguistics, February 2012 | Go to article overview

Effects of Bimodal Subtitling of English Movies on Content Comprehension and Vocabulary Recognition


Etemadi, Aida, International Journal of English Linguistics


Abstract

This thesis is an attempt to study the impact of bimodal subtitling on content comprehension of English movies and vocabulary recognition. Forty four senior undergraduate students studying at Shiraz Islamic Azad University were selected from two intact classes of Tapes and Films Translation course. Two BBC documentary movies (Dangerous knowledge and Where's my robot?), one with English subtitles and the other without subtitles were selected based on the content and level of difficulty of the language. First, both classes watched the same movies, but class 1 first watched 'Dangerous knowledge' with English subtitling and then 'Where's my robot?' without subtitling. To counteract the order effect class 2 first watched 'where's my robot?' and then 'Dangerous knowledge'. After viewing the movies, the participants answered the relevant multiple choice vocabulary and content comprehension questions. The data gathered were subjected to the statistical procedure of paired samples t-test. The results clearly indicated that bimodal subtitling had a positive impact on content comprehension of English movies. It can be said that the participants comprehend the subtitled movie better than the one without subtitle. However, for some reasons bimodal subtitling did not have an effect on participants' vocabulary recognition.

Keywords: English movies, Bimodal subtitling, Content comprehension, Vocabulary recognition

1. Introduction

English movies are available in many countries around the world and are a popular form of entertainment with many students learning English as a foreign language (EFL). Using films to teach a foreign language can help motivate students and remove some of the anxiety of not knowing the language. However, they are not just entertainment; they are also a valuable language teaching tool. The use of movies as a teaching tool is not new in the field of foreign language teaching and learning. Movies not only allow the teacher to introduce variety and reality into the classroom, but discussions based on movie content allow students to bring their own background knowledge and experiences into the discussion. Furthermore, almost everyone finds watching films pleasurable and enjoys talking about them. From a motivational perspective, it seems that movies are a perfect choice for use in a language learning classroom. However, the burden is on the teacher to find ways to make movies an educationally valuable tool for instruction. This medium provides not only rich aural input, but also, the use of subtitles can expose learners to visual input as well. It is the latter type of input which this study will address. As Kusumarasdyati (2005) states, teachers play such movies without subtitles and ask learners to view them while attempting to comprehend the conversations spoken in the target language. However, it is also possible to present movies with subtitles in the native language. With advances in technology, options of how one can watch movies become numerous. Not only can the sound and images be adopted, but the subtitles of various languages are also called for assisting comprehension and language learning.

Subtitles in any language are wonderful tools that let people enjoy films from other cultures and countries, but for language learners subtitles might offer a new path to language comprehension. The National Center for Technology Innovative and Center for Implementing Technology in Education (2010) asserts that for students who are learning English (or another language), subtitled movies can have benefits. The use of subtitled movies has been proved to be more effective at improving overall listening comprehension than non-subtitled movies. Students who watch subtitled movies to learn a foreign language have shown improvement in reading and listening comprehension, word recognition, decoding skills, motivation and vocabulary acquisition.

The reading of subtitles must be separated from the "normal" reading of words and sentences printed on a page. …

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