Watching Subtitled Films Can Help Learning Foreign LanguagesThe overall results of our meta-analysis revealed a large superiority of captioning in that captioning groups significantly outperformed the control group on both listening and vocabulary posttests. Results thus support the claim that captioning helps learners to improve comprehension and fosters vocabulary learning.
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.
I understand the reasoning behind jumping into the water but all scientific data seems to confirm that L2 subtitles benefits listening comprehension more than L1 or no subtitles. Is there anything pointing in the other direction?