Annotated Bibliography Entry for McLoughlin & Lertola’s Audiovisual Translation in Second Language Acquisition

MCLOUGHLIN, L.; LERTOLA, J. (2014). Audiovisual Translation in Second Language Acquisition: Integrating subtitling in the foreign-language curriculum. The interpreter and Translator Trainer, 8(1), 70-83.

As translation is regaining importance as a foreign language teaching tool, and it can be included in communicative and eclectic teaching methodologies, this paper details how subtitling was integrated in the foreign language curriculum and reports learners’ feedback on their experience. It also outlines the steps to subtitling and how they can be beneficial even in an amateur environment.

Subtitling is the active creation of subtitles by language learners and is being considered an effective tool to develop linguistic competence. (Williams and Thorne 2000, Sokoli 2006, Borghetti 2011). The pedagogical translation, or, in this case, the pedagogical subtitling focus on the procedure and not on producing a perfect product/text and the current debate is now focused on how pedagogical translation can be incorporated in the syllabus, or either which types of translation are better to specific proficiency levels. On the other hand, the disadvantages of using such tool are that it only develops two skills (reading and writing) and that it is a lonely exercise.

The subtitling module reported in this paper took place on a regular Italian language course for undergraduate students between 2009 and 2012, and it was well accepted. For this paper, students were asked to complete an online evaluation questionnaire and to provide answers to five closed-ended questions and one open-ended question. The results were that a large majority were happy to see their finished subtitles and were satisfied with them; almost all the students enjoyed the task, which contributed to their motivation during the module.  When required to rate their language skills improvement, translation and listening skills were the most developed ones, due to the fact of listening the audiovisual material (in Italian) several times, then producing a written text in English.  They also felt they have developed their reading skills with the dialogue transcription used in the process. Subtitling does not involve speaking practice; therefore not many students felt improvement in it. Students have also reported satisfaction in having subtitling as part of their regular course, as subtitling is a “very good way of learning” that enhances vocabulary acquisition.

Subtitling represents an enjoyable type of activity that can motivate students to learn a foreign language and can definitely be employed in a communicative language course.

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