Annotated Bibliography Entry for Williams & Thorne’s The value of teletext subtitling as a medium for language learning

WILLIAMS, H.;  THORNE, D. (2000). The value of teletext subtitling as a medium for language learning. System, 28, 217-228.

Learning to subtitle interlingually is a complicated process, just as learning a second language is complicated. This article describes a pilot study which aimed at understanding how language learners benefit from interlingual subtitling. The subtitling module reported took place on a Welsh undergraduate course, was entirely practical and provided training in screen translation.

The authors mention nine language skills that are practiced during subtitling: listen attentively, recognize and fully absorb refers to the importance of practicing listening and how such skill is more developed in subtitlers; read/view the screen for visual clues places the language into meaningful context that help students make sense of what is being said; translate/interpret; edit the content translated so it can meet technical considerations and can be comfortably read by the audience; consider the register of the language, as a range of audiovisual material is used, the learner should be able to use a different repertoire for each genre translated; create easy to read subtitles; display the product on the screen; review subtitles with tutor and discuss the choices made;  respect technical conditions

At the end of the course, students completed a questionnaire on whether or not they believed learning to subtitle had improved their language skills and the general response was positive. Students also reported that strategies for dealing with more complex dialogues were developed, that their working vocabulary increased, and that they were more aware and confident of their competence in the L1. Furthermore, the long exposure to another language and the repetitive nature of the subtitling task act as a drill exercise without the students being aware of the process.

This study showed that students’ communication competence in both L1 and L2 improved. The combination of aural, visual and written elements required to subtitle makes it a relevant language learning tool and it may contribute to motivate and encourage language learners to invest long hours to master a foreign language.





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