Evaluating the Use of Captioned Video Materials in Advanced Foreign Language Learning


  • Thomas J. Garza (Ed. D., Harvard University) is Assistant Professor of Slavic Languages at the University of Texas, Austin.

  • 1

    The present article is a revised version of a 1989 final report on a research project funded by the Mellon Foundation and the American Council of Teachers of Russian and conducted at the Institute for Advanced Studies of the National Foreign Language Center in Washington, D.C., between September and December 1988. A summary version of the findings of this research can be found in Garza (3).


ABSTRACT As increasing numbers of foreign language programs begin to integrate video materials into their curricula, more attention is being focused on ways and means to optimize the student's comprehension of the language of film and television segments. This article reports on the results of research conducted to evaluate the use of captioning (on-screen target language subtitles) as a pedagogical aid to facilitate the use of authentic video materials in the foreign language classroom, especially in advanced or upper-level courses. Using Russian and ESL as target languages, the data collected strongly support a positive correlation between the presence of captions and increased comprehension of the linguistic content of the video material, suggesting the use of captions to bridge the gap between the learner's competence in reading and listening. The paper includes a detailed description of the research methodology, implementation, data analysis, and conclusions. A discussion of the results and suggestions for further research are also included.