Friday, October 1, 2010

[MLE] Using Same Language Subtitles to boost literacy ability


Dear MLE friends,

Subtitling a television programme resulting in significant  increase of literacy rates, sounds too nice to be true, but it seems to be happening:

"India’s public karaoke-for-literacy experiment is the only one of its kind in the world. Technically known as same-language subtitling, or SLS, it manages to reach 200 million viewers across 10 states every week. In the last nine years, functional literacy in areas with SLS access has more than doubled. And the subtitles have acted as a catalyst to quadruple the rate at which completely illiterate adults become proficient readers."

Even if the claim would be a bit optimistic, the article is worth reading. Combining mass entertainment with learning is very attractive. Of course this works in the first place for state languages, but also in some of the bigger unrecognised languages videos are produced and are very popular (Kumauni, Garhwali, etc). It would be very interesting to convince the movie makers to subtitle the videos in those respective languages and see if that would change the socio-linguistic dynamics and literacy factors.

As a Dutch I was also interested in the reference to Finland where English movies are NOT voiced over, but subtitled. That is how I grew up: the Flintstones and Garfield did not speak Dutch but English and we followed the story by reading the subtitles. This research suggests that such approach is actually a boost for fluency reading. I never realised that!


Here is the link:
http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2010/09/19/watch_and_learn/?camp=misc%3Aon%3Ashare%3Aarticle
Thanks to Maureen Lee for the tip.
Regards,

Karsten

Karsten van Riezen
Education Consultant, SIL Int.

SIL, South Asia Group
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