Watching TV without subtitles VS with (dilemma!)

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Re: Watching TV without subtitles VS with (dilemma!)

Postby Mista » Wed Jul 20, 2016 4:28 am

In French, my reading is a lot better than my listening, and my approach has been to watch an episode with subtitles first, and then without subtitles afterwards. That way, I have some clue what I'm listening for, but I don't get distracted by the reading. I also do the same thing with books and audiobooks: I read and listen to the same book, but not at the same time. It seems to be working well. Another possible variant of this would be to watch a program without subs first, then with, and then without again. But it could get boring, I suppose ... :roll: Anyway, the idea is that it's easier if you already have some idea what's going on, I'm sure there are endless ways to do this and that everyone can find a way that works for them.
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Re: Watching TV without subtitles VS with (dilemma!)

Postby garyb » Wed Jul 20, 2016 10:02 am

I think that using L2 subtitles (or transcripts) is the number one method for improving listening comprehension, especially for getting from "understanding just enough to follow" to "understanding almost everything". I'll never understand the idea of avoiding them entirely - why make life more difficult for yourself? Of course you also need to practise listening without them, so I think it's wise to get a good amount of both.

For me, L1 subs are great at a more advanced level, where I can mostly follow the dialogue without problems, because they give me an idea of how similar ideas can be expressed idiomatically in each language. Similar idea to a parallel text. But at a lower level I don't think they're as useful: you're not as familiar with the subtleties of the language so you can get too much into the "translation" mindset of thinking that the phrases are equivalent rather than just similar, and the subs can just distract you from listening since it takes more mental energy to understand the spoken L2 than to read the L1.

In practice, it's a problem that solves itself if you get a wide variety of input. Many online materials, and of course real-life conversations, don't have subs so there's no choice. If something has L2 subtitles, might as well use them. L1 subs are sometimes unavoidable, if they're hard-coded or you're at the cinema, so why not make the most of them.
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Re: Watching TV without subtitles VS with (dilemma!)

Postby Agnosticist » Thu Aug 04, 2016 7:43 am

Subs make things much easier, but they don't really develop your skill of knowing a language. I mean, they do help, but the progress will be slower, you actually learn to read, not to hear. It's a necesary step on one's learning path, but I believe that once a learner feels his skill is enough for something more challenging, he should try watching movies/TV shows without subtitles: it'll be harder, but more beneficial down the road.
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Re: Watching TV without subtitles VS with (dilemma!)

Postby reineke » Tue Aug 23, 2016 2:13 pm

Foreign Subtitles Help but Native-Language Subtitles Harm Foreign Speech Perception

Abstract

"Understanding foreign speech is difficult, in part because of unusual mappings between sounds and words. It is known that listeners in their native language can use lexical knowledge (about how words ought to sound) to learn how to interpret unusual speech-sounds. We therefore investigated whether subtitles, which provide lexical information, support perceptual learning about foreign speech. Dutch participants, unfamiliar with Scottish and Australian regional accents of English, watched Scottish or Australian English videos with Dutch, English or no subtitles, and then repeated audio fragments of both accents. Repetition of novel fragments was worse after Dutch-subtitle exposure but better after English-subtitle exposure. Native-language subtitles appear to create lexical interference, but foreign-language subtitles assist speech learning by indicating which words (and hence sounds) are being spoken."

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0007785

As naturalistic as it gets: subtitles in the English classroom in Norway

"The study was initially inspired by Mitterer and McQueen (2009) who showed that original English subtitles improved speech perception, and more generally, processing of less frequent English varieties."

Abstract

"This study aimed to investigate the effects of subtitles in the context of authentic material on second language comprehension and potentially, second language acquisition for Norwegian learners of English. Participants in the study were 49 17-year-old students and 65 16-year-old students, who were all native speakers of Norwegian learning English as an L2 in high school. Both age groups were divided into three Conditions, where one group watched an episode of the American animated cartoon Family Guy with Norwegian subtitles, one group with English subtitles, and one group watched the episode with no subtitles. On a comprehension questionnaire conducted immediately after watching the episode positive short-term effects of both native language (L1) and target language (L2) subtitles were found for both age groups. However, no differences in terms of the language of the subtitles were found in the older and more advanced group. Four weeks later the participants responded to a word definition task and a word recall task to investigate potential long-term effects of the subtitles. The only long-term effect was found in the word definition task and was modulated by age. We found, however, that native language subtitles impact negatively on performance on the comprehension task. The results from this study suggest that the mere presence of subtitles as an additional source of information enhances learners' comprehension of the plot and content in animated audio-visual material in their L2. The absence of differences in terms of the language of the subtitles in the more advanced group suggests that both intralanguage and interlanguage subtitles can aid target language comprehension in very advanced learners, most probably due to better consolidated vocabulary knowledge in that group. The two groups differed also on predictors of performance on the two lexical tasks. While in the less proficient younger group, vocabulary status best predicted performance on both tasks (vocabulary predicts vocabulary), for the very advanced older group, grammar was a stronger predictor, highlighting the importance of generic language competence and skills in L2 tasks for highly proficient L2 users. We also found an effect of written L2 skills on performance on both lexical tasks indicative of the role of orthography in vocabulary consolidation."

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4288378/

Watching Subtitled Films Can Help Learning Foreign Languages

Abstract

"Watching English-spoken films with subtitles is becoming increasingly popular throughout the world. One reason for this trend is the assumption that perceptual learning of the sounds of a foreign language, English, will improve perception skills in non-English speakers. Yet, solid proof for this is scarce. In order to test the potential learning effects derived from watching subtitled media, a group of intermediate Spanish students of English as a foreign language watched a 1h-long episode of a TV drama in its original English version, with English, Spanish or no subtitles overlaid. Before and after the viewing, participants took a listening and vocabulary test to evaluate their speech perception and vocabulary acquisition in English, plus a final plot comprehension test. The results of the listening skills tests revealed that after watching the English subtitled version, participants improved these skills significantly more than after watching the Spanish subtitled or no-subtitles versions. The vocabulary test showed no reliable differences between subtitled conditions. Finally, as one could expect, plot comprehension was best under native, Spanish subtitles. These learning effects with just 1 hour exposure might have major implications with longer exposure times."

Discussion

"The most relevant finding to emerge from this study was a significant improvement in listening scores of ESL speakers, after watching a TV episode in English, with English subtitles (17% increase vs. 7% for no-subtitles and 0% for Spanish subtitles condition)."

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0158409

The Effect of Interlingual and Intralingual, Verbatim and Nonverbatim Subtitles on L2 Vocabulary Comprehension and Production

"Abstract—The present study sought to investigate the effect of verbatim and nonverbatim interlingual and intralingual subtitles on L2 vocabulary comprehension and production. To this end, four groups of 30 language learners studying conversational English in two language institutes in Qazvin participated in the study. Each of the groups watched the same movie with a different type of subtitling: a) verbatim interlingual, b) nonverbatim interlingual, c) verbatim intralingual and d) nonverbatim intralingual subtitles. The participants
also received a vocabulary pretest and vocabulary comprehension and production post-tests. Two separate Two-Way ANOVA procedures were used to analyze the obtained data. The results revealed that nonverbatim subtitles resulted in more vocabulary comprehension regardless of whether they were interlingual or intralingual, whereas intralingual subtitles were more conductive to vocabulary production irrespective of whether they were verbatim or nonverbatim."

http://www.ikiu.ac.ir/public_files/profiles/items/1341223609.pdf

intralingual = the language of the audio track (usually L2)
interlingual = translation into another language (usually L1)
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Re: Watching TV without subtitles VS with (dilemma!)

Postby desitrader » Tue Aug 23, 2016 2:31 pm

If you understand everything that's written in the L2 subtitles, then leaving the L2 subtitles on is extremely helpful as it'd multiply your listening comprehension several-fold in a very short period of time.

If you frequently encounter unknown words or usage in the L2 subtitles, then I'd switch them off.
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Re: Watching TV without subtitles VS with (dilemma!)

Postby Serpent » Tue Aug 23, 2016 2:39 pm

L1 subs can be helpful for watching stuff that is far above your level. If the choice is between L1 subs and L1 movie, clearly subs win.
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Re: Watching TV without subtitles VS with (dilemma!)

Postby arthaey » Tue Aug 23, 2016 3:15 pm

Thanks for sharing these abstracts and highlighting the key points!

Do you regularly search for papers relevant to language-learning, or were you researching this specific question for yourself this one time?

reineke wrote:The results revealed that nonverbatim subtitles resulted in more vocabulary comprehension regardless of whether they were interlingual or intralingual, whereas intralingual subtitles were more conductive to vocabulary production irrespective of whether they were verbatim or nonverbatim."

This was the one result that surprised me: nonverbatim subtitles are better for vocab!

But I guess it makes sense in retrospect: L2 subs help you "catch" more, but if they're not identical to what you hear, you're perhaps more likely to notice the discrepancy, and thus actually pay attention to those words. Or at least that's my hypothesis. :)
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Re: Watching TV without subtitles VS with (dilemma!)

Postby iguanamon » Tue Aug 23, 2016 3:23 pm

arthaey wrote:...This was the one result that surprised me: nonverbatim subtitles are better for vocab!
But I guess it makes sense in retrospect: L2 subs help you "catch" more, but if they're not identical to what you hear, you're perhaps more likely to notice the discrepancy, and thus actually pay attention to those words. Or at least that's my hypothesis.

When downloading subtitles for a dubbed series, they almost always don't match, and they do force you to pay more attention to what you are hearing. You also learn different ways to say the same thing.
arthaey wrote:...Do you regularly search for papers relevant to language-learning, or were you researching this specific question for yourself this one time?...

Is there a language-learning study reineke doesn't know about? :)
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Re: Watching TV without subtitles VS with (dilemma!)

Postby arthaey » Tue Aug 23, 2016 3:36 pm

iguanamon wrote:When downloading subtitles for a dubbed series, they almost always don't match, and they do force you to pay more attention to what you are hearing. You also learn different ways to say the same thing.

This implies that we perhaps shouldn't be as hung up on finding accurate subs. I know I've used the (lack of) accuracy of available subs as a reason to shy away from some content; it sounds like that's actually the exactly wrong thing to do!
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Re: Watching TV without subtitles VS with (dilemma!)

Postby iguanamon » Tue Aug 23, 2016 3:42 pm

arthaey wrote:
iguanamon wrote:When downloading subtitles for a dubbed series, they almost always don't match, and they do force you to pay more attention to what you are hearing. You also learn different ways to say the same thing.

This implies that we perhaps shouldn't be as hung up on finding accurate subs. I know I've used the (lack of) accuracy of available subs as a reason to shy away from some content; it sounds like that's actually the exactly wrong thing to do!

I wouldn't go that far. I think in training listening, accurate subs/transcript are essential. Once listening is trained, then I believe having non-matching subs can be helpful in forcing more attention to be paid to what is being said and helping with alternative ways of expressing the same thing.
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