Language Learning & Technology http://llt.msu.edu/vol14num1/winkegasssydorenko.pdf
February 2010, Volume 14, Number 1 pp. 65–86
THE EFFECTS OF CAPTIONING VIDEOS USED FOR FOREIGN LANGUAGE LISTENING ACTIVITIES1 Paula Winke, Susan Gass, and Tetyana Sydorenko Michigan State University This study investigated the effects of captioning during video-based listening activities. Second- and fourth-year learners of Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, and Russian watched three short videos with and without captioning in randomized order. Spanish learners had two additional groups: one watched the videos twice with no captioning, and another watched them twice with captioning. After the second showing of the video, learners took comprehension and vocabulary tests based on the video. Twenty-six learners participated in interviews following the actual experiment. They were asked about their general reactions to the videos (captioned and noncaptioned). Results from t-tests and two-way ANOVAs indicated that captioning was more effective than no captioning. Captioning during the first showing of the videos was more effective for performance on aural vocabulary tests. For Spanish and Russian, captioning first was generally more effective than captioning second; while for Arabic and Chinese, there was a trend toward captioning second being more effective. The interview data revealed that learners used captions to increase their attention, improve processing, reinforce previous knowledge, and analyze language. Learners also reported using captions as a crutch. INTRODUCTION The purpose of this study is to investigate L2 learners’ use of captions2 while watching videos in a foreign language. Audiovisual materials enhanced with captions are powerful pedagogical tools that are believed to help improve L2 listening and reading comprehension skills (Borras & Lafayette, 1994; Danan, 2004; Garza, 1991; Markham & Peter, 2003). Captions facilitate language learning by helping learners visualize what they hear, especially if the input is slightly beyond their linguistic ability (Danan, 2004). Captions may also serve to increase language comprehension by facilitating additional cognitive processes, such as greater depth of spoken-word processing (Bird & Williams, 2002). Captioned video is increasingly used in foreign language classes, most likely because of the recent accessibility of authentic videos (e.g., via DVD, YouTube, ViewPoint) which, if not already captioned, can be easily captioned by teachers and curriculum developers using software such as Adobe Premier, iMovie, or ViewPoint. Many universities, overwhelmed by increased interest in foreign language learning (Welles, 2004), are turning to online foreign language course offerings, normally by implementing hybrid or blended-instruction courses, in which part of the instruction is in the classroom and part is conducted independently online (Blake, 2005; Chenoweth & Murday, 2003; Chenoweth, Ushida, & Murday, 2006; Sanders, 2005; Scida & Saury, 2006). Such classes incorporate more online and automated content, which often includes captioned videos. It is especially true for language programs such as Arabic and Chinese, mostly because it is difficult to find enough qualified instructors (Dahbi, 2004; Freedman, 2004), and because videos are a good resource for presenting native speaker voices. Captioning may be a bonus because it helps language learners connect auditory to visual input (Garza, 1991), which may aid form-meaning mapping,3 an essential process for foreign language acquisition (Doughty, 2004). With regard to the present study, the mapping of form to meaning is facilitated since captioning helps identify word boundaries. In other words, it helps learners segment what might otherwise be an incomprehensible stream of speech. However, a question that concerns both theory and pedagogy is what learners actually do with captions when they are presented with them. We do not know Copyright © 2010,...
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