Encourage children to watch programs with subtitles

Vitac has an article highlighting the growing demand for subtitling in English-language media, which may come as a surprise if you typically associate closed captioning and closed captioning with foreign films.


Hollywood embraces native languages ​​in many of its foreign shows. The Japanese characters in Shogun speak Japanese. The Mexican protagonists in Narcos communicate in Spanish. The English dub for those shows won’t ruin your fun. However, it breaks the immersion.

Listening to foreign characters speak in their native languages ​​while following along via subtitles gives you a greater appreciation for their performances. However, the growing demand for subtitles has nothing to do with foreign films or even the exploding popularity of anime.

Many viewers choose to enable Same Language Subtitling (SLS); I like SLS. First, many movies and shows have poor sound mixes. You are watching a scene in a movie, but you cannot hear the dialogue because the voices are too quiet. So you increase the volume.

Three minutes later something explosive happens, like a character screaming, a bomb going off, or a car hitting a tree, and you almost go deaf because the sound is suddenly too loud.

You reach for the controls to turn off the volume before your neighbors complain. And then, seconds later, the sound cuts out again and again. Instead of turning the volume up again, I use subtitles to follow the conversations. Sometimes the sound mix is ​​fine, but the characters speak with ridiculously thick accents. Guy Ritchie films struggle with this.

And if English isn’t your strong suit, characters like Spencer Reed (Criminal Minds) may confuse you unless you use subtitles, as they speak at the pace of a Gatling gun. Moreover, subtitles are a godsend when you watch videos in public. I work right in the center.

You will go deaf trying to use your headphones because you cannot compete with the noise in that environment. So naturally, I try to limit my daytime viewing to anime, as I can keep the volume at the lowest possible setting while using subtitles to follow the conversations. Sometimes I remove my earphones completely.

And when I try to watch YouTube videos in a taxi, I mute the sound on my phone and read the subtitles, because earphones are a health hazard in that environment, and I’m not one of those inconsiderate maniacs who spend the whole taxi to listen to what I’m watching.

If you typically avoid subtitles, this is a good time to jump on that bandwagon. But what if you can’t read subtitles?
What if you are unable to view the events on the screen and follow the words at the bottom at the same time?

Well, you’re in luck. Scholars have discovered that subtitles are actually useful. Research Hub’s Gemma Goldenberg found that 94 percent of children in one study were able to keep up with programs with subtitles.

Granted, this only applied to programs whose subtitles had a low reading level. Nevertheless, if a child can watch a show while reading the subtitles, so can you. More importantly, less fluent readers performed better on word identification and comprehension tests when researchers exposed them to programs with subtitles.

Slate reported in September 2023 that India had passed a law forcing mainstream TV shows in the country to include subtitles because they promote reading and language development.

If your kids always watch cartoons on a TV or tablet, teachers will encourage you to turn on the subtitles. You don’t have to tell your kids to read them. This will happen instinctively and gradually their literacy and speech comprehension will improve.

What does that mean to you? If you can’t read subtitles, watch more shows and movies with subtitles. Over time it will become easier. Stop being lazy.

[email protected]