Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The use of subtitling in foreign language learning

Study on the use of subtitling

The potential of subtitling to encourage language learning and improve the mastery of foreign languages


"The results that emerge from analysis of the different themes of the study demonstrate the complexity of the correlation between subtitling and knowledge of languages.

There is no negative correlation between being accustomed to dubbing and knowledge of foreign languages: the inhabitants of dubbing countries speak other languages in addition to their mother tongue. However, the inhabitants of dubbing countries do not speak more foreign languages than those of subtitling countries in any of the age groups studied in the survey.
In countries that have a tradition of subtitling, the majority of survey respondents stated that their language level (particularly in English) is close to that of their mother tongue, i.e. level 4 or 5 on a scale of 5, whereas in the countries with a dubbing tradition, the majority of respondents said they did not exceed level 3 on a scale of 5.
 A correlation seems to emerge with regard to age, number of languages spoken and preference for subtitling or dubbing: younger respondents (aged 12 to 18 and 18 to 25) who speak more languages showed a more pronounced preference for subtitling rather than dubbing.
 The correlation between knowledge of languages and a preference for subtitling is also confirmed for students: once they have begun university, most young Europeans change their audiovisual habits and prefer subtitling to dubbing, for reasons of semiology and language learning.
 The only exception in this category is students from non-language faculties in dubbing and voice-over countries, who still seem to prefer dubbing to subtitling, out of habit and to avoid having to make the effort to read subtitles
 Subtitling, especially the use of intralinguistic subtitles, can make it easier for migrants to learn the language of their host country.
 The European population is confident on the whole in the educational potential of subtitling (nearly 72% of respondents, and in particular the population aged 12 to 25) and also expresses willingness to view films in the original with subtitles if this choice is offered by television channels.

Three main conclusions may be drawn from these results (to be taken with the precautions mentioned throughout the analysis):  
subtitling helps to improve the mastery of foreign languages (see chapter 4)
 subtitling can raise awareness and provide motivation for language learning, in both formal and informal contexts, and consequently contributes to creating an environment that encourages multilingualism (see chapter 5.1)

knowledge of foreign languages and university studies encourage citizens to choose subtitling rather than dubbing (see chapter 5.2 of the report).

It is nevertheless important to clarify that in informal learning contexts, the number of languages to which viewers' awareness can be raised through subtitling depends on the origin of the films in circulation. Today, in the near majority of European countries, box office releases are dominated by North American productions in English, so viewers in subtitling countries are likely to be most familiar with English.

The fact remains, however, that certain groups of the European population (students in language faculties, cinema enthusiasts, etc.) make a point of seeking out the original subtitled version of films in the different languages in which they wish to improve their skills."


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