Abstract:This study conveys the efficiency of the subtitles as a tool for increasing thevocabulary knowledge in Iranian EFL learners accomplished at IranMehr Language institutein Tehran, Iran. The participants were 60 intermediate EFL female studentsbetween the ages of 18 and 20.
Participants were determined intotwo experimental and control groups, a first class received subtitled moviesand the second class movieswithout any subtitles. Theexperimental group watched two movieswith English subtitles according tothe level of that class and the control group again watched those moviesby turning off the Subtitles. Bothgroups practiced for a total of twenty two and half hours (5 weeks, 4.5 hourseach). Data were investigated and in orderto find the differences between the groups.
As the results showed, the findings showed thatparticipants in the experimental group with subtitled moviesperformed significantly better and learnedmore new vocabulary considered to the control group. Key words: vocabularylearning, subtitling, oral comprehension, Visual Imagery or Movies IntroductionRecently, there hasbeen an increasing studyin Audiovisual Translation (AVT) and its many applications: subtitling, audiodescription, live subtitling and dubbing. Subtitling is quite one of the moststudied AVT modes from theory to practice, not only for the professionalpractice and training but also for literacy and language learning (Lertola,2010).Applying movies to improve the acceptance of new vocabularyis paid more attention by many researchers. Additionally, so many researchers believethat movies seem to provide a full context for new vocabulary learning (Danan,2004). Theinterests of the subtitling practice have been also recognized to be efficientin translator training (Neves 2004).
Vocabulary learning is studied as one ofthe most important skills in learning a foreign language because it has an efficientrole in developing foreign language skills such as speaking and reading.According to Zhang,learners prefer the future of learning vocabulary in the process of applyingthem in contexts and do not like learning vocabulary only by rote memorization(2009). The current study discusses the influence of the subtitling onvocabulary learning in IranianEFL learners. This study can be determined as quasi-experimental, due to thepresence of both experimental and control groups carried out at IranMehr LanguageInstitute in Tehran, Iran. The result of this study will be useful for EFLlearners who are into finding various ways of learning vocabulary.
Review of theRelated LiteratureUsing a language,either the first or second, has as its target to communicate ideas, preserving socialrelations, and creating discourse, all which requires many various corecompetencies (Plass, 2005). Some of these competencies include reading, speaking,writing and listening, all important factors in the process of learning alanguage. The use of multimedia, notably audiovisual material can fulfill some,but not all, of these criteria. While one could argue for audiovisual material’s potential in theEnglish-speaking classroom, one must not overestimate its value as a basis forteaching, entirely relyingon such material to cover all fields language teaching contains. However, it is correct to state thatmultimedia’srole, both in general society, but also in the premise of the school, hasbecome more prominent in the past decades.According to Krashen’sinput hypothesis, people can get a second language “only if they obtaincomprehensible input” (Krashen, 1985, p.
4). In fact, “authentic videos can bedifficult for the average student, but they can understand the language withthe help of subtitles, either by creating them or by having them previously visibleon the screen” (Talaván, 2010, p. 295).Zimmermann (1997) callsvocabulary “… central to languages and of critical importance to the typicallanguage learner (p.
5). All over the nineteenth century, vocabulary was taughtthrough etymology and definitions, much due to the connection between them.Later on, the grammar translation method, involving preparation of students toread and write classical materials and to pass standardized exams was always predominant.Grammar and vocabulary teaching have been the center of second languagelearning, because they are the most principle elements of a language; oneconsidering form and the other content. Among various types of linguisticknowledge that organizes successful reading comprehension, grammar andvocabulary have received major attention in linguistic study. (Zhang, 2012, p.
558) If weaccept that grammar and vocabulary are foundations of language comprehension,it becomes pivotal to measure these two factors to illustrate to some degreethe language proficiency within subjects. There are also many studiesthat focused on the effects of subtitles on understanding in reading, listeningand vocabulary acquisition. These studies aimed to consider whether subtitled videosor TV programs are more efficient than non- subtitled ones (Baltova, 1999;Danan, 1992, 2004). The general findings of these studies supported the common beliefthat subtitles are powerful instructional tools in learning vocabulary andimproving reading and listening comprehension skills of language learners.However, according to Winke, Gass, and Sydrenko (2010), it is difficult togeneralize the findings of the studies reviewed above for at least two reasons:”First, several studies did not group subjects by proficiency levels; second,the types of tests used to measure the effects of language learners’ processingof captions varied widely” (p.67). In Neuman andKoskinen’s (1992) study, it was found that young learners of English could accidentallylearn vocabulary from watching subtitled English language videos. Similarly, ind’Ydewalle & Van de Poel’s (1999) study, young learners of French and Danishwere able to learn vocabulary from captioned videos; however they didn’t pay anyattention to the language before or during the video viewing.
In a studyconducted by Koolstra & Beentjes (1999), even when the videos weren’tcaptioned, children told to ‘just watch’ authentic videos were still able toacquire new foreign language vocabulary. More particularly, the present study will answer the following study question: Do applying Englishsubtitled movies have an explicit effect on the vocabulary knowledge improvement?Method This study is a quasi-experimental study and includes a pre andpost-test. Two movies which had English subtitles were devoted to theexperimental group, but to the control group those movies were assigned withoutany subtitles. Furthermore, 20 vocabulary items were chosen. Generally, according toMayer (1999), one of the main principles in using multimedia in learning is toplace words close to corresponding pictures on a page or present narrationsconcurrently with corresponding animations.
Most of the target words wereappeared in movies more than once. Both groups were given the same pre andpost-test on the target vocabulary words but the format was various. Thelistening ability and improvement in the post-test of the participants werealso considered. As the experiment requires students to watch and listen, it isobviously believed that there is a close relationship between reading andlistening.The subjects were 60intermediate EFL female students between the ages of 18 and 20 at IranMehrLanguage institute. Students were assigned to two groups according to theirclass schedule; this resulted in 30 students in the experimental group (EG) and30 in the control Group (CG). An initial questionnaire was also given to findout the students’ background as well as TV-watching habits, in terms ofsubtitled or dubbed material and their previous learning experiences; thequestionnaire contained eight closed-ended questions. The questionnaire shows86% of the students watched FL movies, 52% of those frequently watched subtitledmovies and 24% frequently watched both dubbed and subtitled movies.
Besides, 58% of theparticipants had previous translation experience and 87% of them believed thattranslation helps language learning. Finally, 54% had experienced audiovisualmaterial in the FL class and most of them (94%) believed that audiovisual materialhelps language learning. The first group whichwas named as an experimental group, 30 learners who watched the movies byemploying subtitled movies; while control group were not received any subtitle duringthe treatment.
In order to identify the effect of movies and use of Englishsubtitles on the learners’ vocabulary improvement, vocabulary pre andpost-tests were administered during the studyto the learners. Each of the tests was consisted of 20 matching items andEnglish vocabulary with their meaning in Farsi or synonyms. Each test wasapplied before and after training and exposing the learners to the movies. Thereliability of each test was in order to KR-21 formula. At the end of eachclass a vocabulary post-test was distributed to both groups and the resultswere considered to find the effects of using subtitled cartoons in vocabularyenhancement.
Design and procedureThe data collectiontool utilized in this study, VKS, is concerned with the descriptions of stagesthat words pass through. A vocabulary knowledge scale (VKS) developed by Wesche& Paribakht (1996) was applied as this scale is process-oriented andcompatible with the view that vocabulary acquisition is a continuum of development.A pre-test – post-testexperiment and group framework was used as a research design in the study. Theparticipants were randomly assigned to each group. In group A (the subtitle group),participants watched movies with the English subtitles and in Group B (the no-subtitlegroup) participants watched without subtitles.
Both groups were given the same pre-and post-tests. Table 1 illustrates the design of study.Table1. Design of thestudy Pretest Treatment Post-test VKS is given to both groups Group A (cartoons with subtitles) VKS is given to both groups Group B (cartoons without subtitles) The administration ofthe tests and treatments was done in the computer lab, where participants oftenwatch movies and videos in English in other classes.
An LCD projector and alaptop were available for the treatment in the lab. The free software KmPlayer, a media player that has the facility to incorporate subtitles into themoving picture, was utilized to play the movies.As it is obvious, this study was conducted in the specifiedclass times in English Institute in Tehran. Randomly, the participants were classifiedinto two groups after making them homogeneous by employing a placement test.One class was asked to watch cartoons by turning the subtitles on while theother class named as control group watched the cartoons by turning thesubtitles off.
During the treatment in each session, the researcher andparticipants devoted 60 minutes to watch the cartoons, practicing new words andpausing the movies while new words were shown, also discussing about thatimportant parts of the cartoons with general words. Furthermore, after somesessions working on the learners which were exposed with English subtitles movies,the teacher took a vocabulary test consisting of 20 writing the definitionsitems. During the process teacher used many techniques to teach new vocabularyitems; for example, giving synonyms and antonyms of a word or asking studentsto look up the new vocabulary in a dictionary, demonstration, and etc.
Afterpracticing and revising the new vocabulary items, a discussion was held withthe learners about the theme of the movies. The teacher asked some questionsfostering learners to use new vocabularies which they have learned to answer.Finally, the results of the tests were considered to each other to know theimportance of subtitled movies.Data Analysisand ResultsConsequently, afteradministrating the test, each group’s mean scores were calculated. Then, movieswith and without subtitle were employed in experimental and control classes.Besides, the researcher applied descriptive statistics to find the mean,standard deviation, and range of scores.
Finally, the results oftests, by using SPSS software made clear that which is more helpful forlearners in responding to the questions considered to the other one. Table2. Averagescores attained in each group. N Minimum Maximum Mean SD Group Pretest 30 1.05 4.27 2.4735 1.
0400 Group Posttest 30 1.11 4.88 2.
8148 1.1834 Group Pretest 30 1.05 4.11 2.4232 .
9815 Group Posttest 30 1.11 4.50 2.5343 1.0989 Valid N (listwise) 30 The development in eachgroup was calculated through t-test.
Participants in Group A improved on an averageof .34127 from pre-test to post-test while those in Group B (the subtitlesgroup) progressed by .1111 approximately.
Table 3: The summary of t-test resultsfor the gains between two groups (Independent Samples Test). F Sig. t df Sig. (2-taied) Mean difference Std. Error difference 95 % Confidence Interval of the Differences Lower Upper Mean Equal variances assumed .419 .
521 1.715 40 .094 .28042 .16350 -.
05002 .61086 Equal variances not assumed 1.715 39.292 .094 .28042 .
16350 -.05020 .61105 According to thefindings of the study, both Group A (the subtitle group) and Group B (theno-subtitle group) had important gains from pre-test to post-tests in theself-reported Vocabulary Knowledge Scales. When the gains of two groups were considered,the participants in Group A, who watched movies with subtitles, were found toimprove a bit more than those in Group B, who watched without subtitles (GroupA= .34127, Group B=.
11111). However, there was no important difference betweengroups in terms of gains. Thus, what facilitated the improvement in vocabularyknowledge was not the incorporation of subtitles into the movies. At thispoint, it might be posited that the movies increased the vocabulary developmentof participants.
The previous study properties the vocabularydevelopment of students to their being exposed to the target words in a particularcontext (in subtitled cartoons). Nation and Waring (1997) point out that it isone of the most important vocabulary learning strategies and an essential partof any vocabulary learning program. Since the participants were not informedabout the purpose of the study beforehand and were not allowed to use theirdictionaries during the treatment phase, they most probably took advantage ofthis strategy with the help of contextual clues embedded in the movies. Basedon this fact, it is supposed that incidental learning of the vocabulary itemsoccurred due to the incorporation of target words into the movies thatfunctioned as a context, obviously a fundamental notion within the process ofincidental vocabulary learning (DeRidder, 1999). It is also preferred byteachers since teaching words in isolation does not produce the desiredresults.Besides, in table 1 and2 and 3, it is clear that average of developing vocabulary knowledge byemploying English training movies with subtitle in experimental group is morethan control group, so experimental group after using English training movies withsubtitle significantly considered to control group without using subtitles isnoticeably prominent. Therefore, thedifferences between groups are statistically important and it means that thegroups with various trainings performed differently after receiving distincttypes of treatments.
Subtitled movies would also helplanguage learners expand their knowledge of vocabulary. All the tests whichwere conducted separately were combined and considered as one single test, thatis, the mean for the two tests scores of each learner was calculated and thenthe Independent Sample t-test was applied.Discussion andConclusionThe result of thisstudy declares that subtitling is an efficient factor which has a high impacton vocabulary learning. The results of the present study also support thegeneral idea that the students can acquire elements of a foreign language,including vocabulary, through watching subtitled movies. As we discussedearlier, the conclusion of this studymanifests that applying subtitled movies as educational tools in languageteaching environments can motivate learners to receive the language throughmultisensory channels. Using subtitled movies would also help language learnersdevelop their knowledge of vocabulary. The role of captioned movies indeveloping vocabulary has not been considered seriously in Iran. These findingsmight encourage learners to devote more time to watching subtitled TV programsincluding movies, movies in order to improve their overall language skills aswell as their vocabulary knowledge.
Subtitled movies wouldalso help language learners expand their knowledge of vocabulary. All the testswhich were conducted separately were combined and considered as one singletest, that is, the mean for the two tests scores of each learner was calculatedand then the Independent Sample t-test was applied.The results of thissmall study express that statistically important results emerge only at thepost-delayed point, i.
e. the subtitling condition caused a more important L2vocabulary retention considered to the non-subtitling condition. In otherwords, the subtitling task proved to be positively influential in vocabularylearning of Iranian EFL students rather than other tasks such as oralcomprehension and writing tasks.Generally, this study supports the positive resultsobtained in recent studies on the use of the subtitling practice as an efficientpedagogical tool in the EFL classroom context, and it greatly encouragesfurther study on thetopic.
Thence it is better forresearchers to write more about subtitled method of acquiring targetvocabulary, though the present studyinvestigated the role of subtitled movies in promoting vocabulary knowledge ina quasi-experimental method, inferences can be drawn from results of this studyare limited by the nature of the particular sample selected, which solelyconsisted of intermediate students of an institution. Further study can also explore the use ofreversed or other ones by employing them, we can be familiar with the audio andalso visual form of vocabulary is proposed to be considered as further study.