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Do same-language subtitles help children learn to read?

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Learning to read is vitally important but challenging for many children. One problem is that many children do not get enough reading practice. 

 

Public campaigns like "Turn on the Subtitles" in the UK and "CaptionsON" in the USA suggest that turning on English subtitles while watching television may provide this reading practice and help children learn to read. 

 

Are you a parent of a child in Year 3? We invite you to participate in our study.

What is this study about?

Our Nuffield Foundation study tests whether viewing television with subtitles counts as reading practice and improves children’s reading skills.

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What will your child do?

We will see your child twice, either in our reading laboratory at Royal Holloway or at school, over a six-week period. In these two meetings, we will measure:

 

  • where your child looks when watching animated movies with subtitles;

  • your child’s reading skills;

  • your child’s interest in reading.

 

In between these two meetings, we will ask you either to turn on television subtitles or to continue watching television without subtitles for six weeks. Your child will be randomly assigned to one of these two groups (subtitle group / no-subtitle group). Your child will be asked to watch some episodes from a list of suggested shows on CBBC and answer simple questions about them once a week.

What will you do?

1. We will ask you to ensure that the subtitles are turned on (for the subtitle group) or turned off (for the no-subtitle group) for six weeks.

2. Each weekday, we will send you text messages asking whether your child watched television that day, for how long, and whether the subtitles were on or off. These text messages won’t take more than 30 seconds of your time.

3. On Sunday, we will send you a short survey with questions about television viewing time during the week and about the content of the suggested shows that your child watched. 

4. We will contact you six weeks after the final testing session to discuss your child’s reading and television viewing habits.

What will you get?

We will pay you £50 for the time you spend responding to our messages and surveys plus £10 for your travel to the Royal Holloway labs or £10 to the school for their help in organising the testing sessions. Payment will be made in Amazon vouchers. Your child will also receive a small gift.

 

You will be the first to know about our findings in this study: do subtitles actually help children become better readers?

Who do we invite?

We invite families with children who

  • attend Year 3

  • have English as the main language they speak at home

  • have no language or literacy impairments

  • have no (or minimal) experience watching subtitles

  • watch at least 5 hours of television or streaming services per week

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Subtitles (1).jpeg

Interested?

Contact us: subtitles.rhul@gmail.com 


Do you have questions?

Ask Anastasiya on subtitles.rhul@gmail.com

Research Team

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