The Use of Video in the FL Classroom

Various kinds of audiovisual material have been exploited in different ways for many years in order to support student learning. Several authors (e.g. Bates,1985) have described particular attributes of video that render it a powerful medium for learning, such as abstracting information, narrative visualization, recognition and identification by the student. It is now commonplace to say that audiovisual material, with its rich context, is a powerful instructional tool known to have a motivational, attentional, and affective impact on viewers, which in turn facilitates auditory processing (Baltova, 1994). More specifically, the use of subtitled audiovisual material has several advantages, such as:

  • provision of simultaneous exposure to spoken language, printed text and visual information all conveying the same message (Baltova, 1999:33)
  • promotion of content and vocabulary learning even with relatively inexperienced learners (ibid)
  • function of subtitles as a factor which bridges the gap between reading and listening skills (Borrás & Lafayette: 1994)

LvS aims to overcome the shortcoming of passivity by engaging learners in an active way: they have to add subtitles to the material, thus creating a new product.

The benefits of subtitling for the translation students have been described by researchers, such as Klerkx (1998) and Rundle (2000). According to Neves (2004:127),

students of translation attending subtitling courses gained skills and language awareness that reflected itself in their performance in other courses and activities. It is believed that this is due to the junction of two elements – translation and audiovisuals – that have been accepted as assets to language learning in general; and to the fact that subtitling calls for a variety of skills that can be improved through well staged activities covering the different steps of the subtitling process.

However, up to now the advantages of subtitling in FL learning as an activity have only been observed and no specific software or material has been designed. The Information and Communication Technologies, offer tools which allow the projection of audiovisual material with synchronised subtitles, the creation and edition of subtitles, as well as the preparation of the necessary language learning material without the requirement for advanced computer skills on the part of the teacher.