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The Effect of Video and Subtitles on Second Language Listening Comprehension

Author: ChenZuoZhi
Tutor: GuZuoYi
School: Jiangnan University
Course: English Language and Literature
Keywords: video subtitles subtitled video comprehension attention
CLC: H319.9
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2012
Downloads: 67
Quote: 0
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Listening plays an important role in language learning, therefore, researchers and practitioners have been searching for efficient ways to improve listening ability for a long time. With the development of multimedia technology, integration of text, audio, and motion video has become available. Language learners can be exposed to textual, aural, and visual media in a wide range of formats. In the 1950s, audio-video materials were introduced into second language listening courses. The audio-video material could provide a rich context for language learners, and it is a very useful tool in maintaining subjects’motivation in second language learning. In the 1980s, subtitled audio-video materials were also presented to learners. In the subtitled audio-visual material, the verbal message is conveyed though both aural input and visual input. Considerable amounts of studies related with video-audio material and subtitled video-audio material have been carried out in second language learning. Results from empirical studies are still rather inconclusive. Some researchers thought the extra-linguistic clues of the video could better learners’comprehension. But some found the application of video require learners to allocate their limited attentional capacity among the multimodal inputs simultaneous, while only a limited amount of incoming data may be attended to at a given time. The adoption of subtitled video in language teaching has also aroused skepticism among scholars. Some held the view that the learners might give up listening, and rely completely on reading the subtitles, which would inhibit the development of listening ability. Therefore, the present study aims to investigate the effect of video and subtitles on second language listening comprehension. The research questions of the study are:1) Will different input conditions (audio, video-audio, subtitle-audio and subtitled video-audio) influence second language listening comprehension?2) Where do the subjects focus their attention under different conditions: on video, subtitles and/or audio cues?121 sophomore English majors were recruited for the experiment. The subjects were randomly divided into four groups: 1) audio group; 2) audio-video group 3) subtitle-audio group and 4) subtitled audio-video group. The four groups were comparable in their global language proficiency, listening comprehension and reading comprehension. A controlled comparison experiment was conducted to explore the effect from the audio, audio-video, subtitle-audio and subtitled audio-video on second language comprehension. After playing experimental material, the subjects were required to do a comprehension test. They were asked to recall and write down what they have remembered from the material. A questionnaire was carried out to investigate the subjects’cognitive and psychological process during the experiment and their opinions about the experiment. Through the data we collected and analyzed, we found that:1) For the comprehension test, the subjects in the subtitled video-audio group performed significantly better than the other three groups; and the subjects in the subtitle-audio group overtook the audio-video group and audio group; and the audio group performed slightly better than the audio-video group, although the difference did not reach a statistically significant level. Generally, overall superiority in performance was found with the group with subtitle aid at the level of listening comprehension, while video alone did not exert a significant effect on enhancing listening comprehension.2) At large, the subjects in the subtitled video-audio group paid most of their attention to subtitles. The subjects in the audio-video group reported that they attended to the audio information more; and the subjects in the subtitle-audio group reported they paid more attention to subtitles. Due to the limited attentional capacity and unbalanced reading ability and listening ability, our subjects attended to subtitles most. The video alone did not lend the direct verbal information and received the least attention.From the study, we can see that audio-video, subtitle-audio and subtitled audio-video exert influence on comprehension. Subject’s attentional capacity is limited, and subject’s reading comprehension ability is stronger listening comprehension ability. Therefore, subtitles enjoy superiority over video on enhancing comprehension and received the most attention. While video alone did not exert a significant influence on improving comprehension and received the least attention.

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