captions and subtitles for second-language learners

Captions and Subtitles Enhance 2nd-Language Learning

It is a Fact: Captions and Subtitles Enhance 2nd-Language Learning!

When you are in a 2nd-language learning environment, the more you immerse yourself in the culture the more fluent you become.

The ability to experience language in multimedia formats not only increases vocabulary but also helps you understand the casual use of the language.  There is a large body of research the proves that the use of video captions and subtitles are effective language learning and improvement tools.

Captioned videos help to significantly improve grammar, speech, vocabulary, listening, word recognition, and reading comprehension for those learning in a 2nd-language. Captions have now become a standard part of of 2nd-language classrooms.  Let’s dig in!


Visual Learning

Some students are better visual learners than they are audio learners. This can make learning a new language particularly challenging for this segment of learners.

When a student is able to read the words as they are spoken on the video, they are able to process the word visually, which improves comprehension.

Visual learning also improves listening comprehension for many learners. By engaging more than one sense simultaneously, students are able to process information on a deeper level.

Captions and Subtitles Enhance 2nd-Language Learning
Captions and Subtitles Enhance 2nd-Language Learning

“We found that subtitles aided comprehension of plot in the initial round of testing in addition to the participants’ vocabulary size…”

– Ingrid Elisabeth Nufsfjord Kvitnes from Subtitles in the 2nd-Language Classroom


Imperfect Audio Quality 

The quality of the audio may also have issues that prevent the student from hearing the dialogue. Sometimes there is loud music, people speak softly or their accent is thick and it makes it difficult to understand what is being said. With captions, people will be able to read the words as they are spoken to make sure they heard them correctly.

This is beneficial for people who aren’t native speakers since words often sound similar and one misheard word can affect the translation of the entire sentence and distort their understanding of what is going on.


Better Note-Taking

If the student is trying to take notes while they are watching the video, the subtitles will make it easier to copy what is being said. Watching a video with subtitles and taking notes has been shown to increase vocabulary and the casual use of the language. It is always difficult for non-native speakers to grasp the way culture influences use of words, which is why they often misuse slang terms.

Social vocabulary skills help them get a broader understanding of the language and culture and adapt better when visiting a foreign country.


Subtitles Aren’t a Distraction

Some people may think that trying to read words on the screen while listening to the dialogue and understand what is happening would be distracting and confusing. On the contrary, it has been proved that double media methods are more effective than learning that occurs by just listening to the audio or just reading captions on a video.

Simply stated, subtitles and captions on a video increase the level of engagement for viewers. If those viewers are non-native speakers, those subtitles help them learn the language faster and with a greater depth of understanding.


Better 2nd-Language Learning Tools

So, now we know that by adding subtitles and captions to video you will help not only 2nd-language learners, but all viewers, to better comprehend and engage with media.  You can caption or add subtitles to a video for free to try it out.  And when we say free, we mean free… so enjoy!


Quick Facts:  

  1. 2nd-language learning facts
    2nd-language learning facts

    Approximately 10% of American pre-K -12 students speak English as a 2nd-Language.

  2. English as a 2nd-Language students are the fastest growing American population.
  3. Approximately 36 million American adults report some amount of hearing loss.
  4. 2 to 3 of every 1,000 American children are born hard of hearing.
  5. 1 in 5 public schoolchildren have trouble reading.







Nicole E. Flynn, CMO at cielo24, is deeply interested in exploring and communicating the ways in which Artificial Intelligence (AI) intersects with various aspects of our daily lives. She is passionate about exploring the ways in which AI can be ethically harnessed to improve the quality of life and make our world a better place. Nicole seeks to educate and inform audiences about the potential of AI technology and how it can be used to drive innovation and growth.