Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Foreign subtitles improve speech perception

11.11.2009
Second-language listening ability improvement by watching movies with subtitles

Do you speak English as a second language well, but still have trouble understanding movies with unfamiliar accents, such as Brad Pitt's southern accent in Quentin Tarantino's 'Inglorious Bastards'?

In a new study, published in PLoS ONE on November 11, 2009, Holger Mitterer (Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics) and James McQueen (MPI and Radboud University Nijmegen) show how you can improve your second-language listening ability by watching the movie with subtitles.

That is, if these subtitles are in the film's language! Subtitles in one's native language, the default in some European countries, are harmful to learning to understand foreign speech.

Mitterer and McQueen show for the first time that listeners can tune in to an unfamiliar regional accent in a foreign language. Dutch students showed improvements in their ability to recognise Scottish or Australian English after only 25 minutes of exposure to video material. English subtitling during exposure enhanced this learning effect; Dutch subtitling reduced it. Mitterer and McQueen explain these effects from their group's previous research on perceptual learning in speech perception.

Tune in to accents

Listeners can use their knowledge about how words normally sound to adjust the way they perceive speech that is spoken in an unfamiliar way. This seems to happen with subtitles too. If an English word was spoken with a Scottish accent, English subtitles usually told the perceiver what that word was, and hence what its sounds were. This made it easier for the students to tune in to the accent. In contrast, the Dutch subtitles did not provide this teaching function, and, because they told the viewer what the characters in the film meant to say, the Dutch subtitles may have drawn the students' attention away from the unfamiliar speech.

Boosting listening skills

These findings also have educational implications. Since foreign subtitles seem to help with adaptation to foreign speech in adults, they should perhaps also be used whenever available (e.g., on a DVD) to boost listening skills during second-language learning. Moreover, since native-language subtitles get in the way of this kind of learning, such subtitles in television programmes should be made optional for the viewer.

Contact:
Holger Mitterer
Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, Netherlands
Tel.: +31-24-352 1375
Fax: +31-24-352 1213
E-mail: Holger.Mitterer@mpi.nl

Barbara Abrell | Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Further information:
http://www.mpg.de
http://www.mpi.nl

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Amputees can learn to control a robotic arm with their minds
28.11.2017 | University of Chicago Medical Center

nachricht The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

12.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Multi-year submarine-canyon study challenges textbook theories about turbidity currents

12.12.2017 | Earth Sciences

Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

12.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>