There have been many studies that have looked at varied aspects of the use of closed captioning and subtitling in increasing literacy both in and out of the classroom. These studies have ranged from how closed captions have assisted deaf students with comprehension to how Karaoke has improved literacy and reading growth when used as a reading activity in a high school special education classroom. Most studies have found that captioning in its varied forms have a significant effect on readers of all levels if applied in the right manner.
Captions and Diversity
Universal Design for Learning states that in order for learning to optimally occur, the brain must be engaged at multiple levels. This means that in order to reach a learner, they must be provided with multiple means of representation and engagement.
A teacher should provide multiple means of representation when presenting information to the learner. Captioning video presents the learner with both video and text to interact with in the learning environment. For the English language learning students this allows for vocabulary acquisition, listening comprehension, word recognition, and decoding skills. Students who are struggling readers can use captions to see and hear unfamiliar words that can help to improve the understanding of material.
Captioning provides multiple means of engagement as students generally enjoy watching videos and providing captions can motivate the students to read them as they watch the video. Teachers can also encourage students and parents to turn on captions when watching TV at home.
The Research Shows
From Huang, H. & Eskey, D to W. Greg McCall all the way to India and Brij Kothari, research shows that closed captioning and subtitles improve literacy rates in all readers. Brij Kothari looked at how using same-language subtitling improved literacy in the population of India. Huang and Eskey found that closed captioning improved the listening comprehension of ESL students. Greg McCall used same-language subtitling reading activities in a high school special education classroom to great effect. These studies and many more found improvement in the following areas:
- Reading speed and fluency
- Work knowledge
- Vocabulary acquisition
- Word recognition
- Reading comprehension
- Oral reading rates