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Collection: Video and Captioning

purple arrow (1137 bytes)Captioned Video Q & A

REFERENCES: Foley, L. (1995). Words to watch: a guide to using captioned television programs. Boston: WGBH Educational Foundation.

Goldman, M.E. (1993). Using captioned TV for teaching reading. (Fastback series, number 359). Bloomington, Indiana: Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation.

Koskinen, P.S., Wilson, R.M., Gambrell, L.B. & Neuman, S.B. (1993). Captioned video and vocabulary learning: An innovative practice in literacy instruction. The Reading Teacher, 47(1), 36-43.

Neuman, S.B. (1990). Curriculum guide: The new "English" teacher: A guide to using captioned television with language minority students. Vienna, Virginia: National Captioning Institute.

Neuman, S.B. & Koskinen, P.S. (1992). Captioned television as comprehensible input: Effects of incidental word learning in context for language minority students. Reading Research Quarterly, 27, 95-106.


CONTEXT: As of July 1993, all TV sets (13 inches or larger) sold in the United States must by law have decoder circuitry built in. Consumers buy 20 million televisions each year, which means that within a few years most Americans will have access to captioned television and video. Ever since closed captioning appeared on TV in 1980, teachers have been discovering the benefits of captioned video for a variety of student populations who need additional reading support.


What does research say about captioned video in the classroom?

Research has been conducted with deaf students, hearing students reading below grade level and students learning English as a second language (also with adults, both native speakers of English and those learning English as a second language). Results that have emerged consistently across these studies strongly suggest that captioned TV and video motivate reluctant readers to read and boost their reading confidence. Reading captions also seems to improve sight vocabulary and vocabulary acquisition. Finally, it seems to improve reading comprehension (when compared to text only or television only).

What programs are captioned?

Most national programs on the networks--ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, Fox--and cable, plus thousands of movies, documentaries and children's programs on home video. Educational videos are less often captioned; a recently survey found fewer than 10% of titles captioned. Captioned titles are referred with the words "closed captioned" or the initials CC.

What equipment is needed?

You can record a captioned program on any home VCR and play it back on a TV with a decoder built in or a set-top model. The captions are hidden in the video as data, and must be decoded in order to be seen (hence the term "closed" captioned).

What are tips for using captioned video in the classroom?

The experts say:

Any cautions for the teacher?

Yes. Captions have to keep up with the dialog or narration of a television program, so can have a fast display rate, up to 220 words per minute (children's programs are displayed at 85 words per minute and higher). At the same time, in order to keep reading speeds within certain limits, words or phrases may be cut. This means that the text may not match the audio exactly. Finally, captions generally appear in all-upper case letters.

For copies of the curriculum guides referenced above:

Curriculum guide: The new "English" teacher: A guide to using captioned television with language minority students.
For teachers of language minority students, 39 pages
Available from the National Captioning Institute, 703-917-7657.

Words to watch: a guide to using captioned television programs.
Designed to accompany the "CBS Storybreak" series, which is broadcast with open captions (no decoder necessary) on Saturday mornings in most television markets.
Available from WGBH Educational Foundation, 617-492-9258

Using captioned TV for teaching reading. (Fastback series, number 359)
This 34-page guide discusses teaching at-risk learners and ESL learners with captioned TV and includes two sample lessons for ESL students.
Available from Phi Delta Kappan

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This material was developed by the National Center to Improve Practice (NCIP), located at Education Development Center, Inc. in Newton, Massachusetts.  NCIP was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs from October 1, 1992 - September 30, 1998, Grant #H180N20013.  Permission is granted to copy and disseminate this information.  If you do so, please cite NCIP.   Contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by NCIP, EDC, or the U.S. Government.  This site was last updated in September 1998. 

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