The Effects of Video Texts Supported with and without Subtitles on the Listening Comprehension of Foreign Language Learners: A Meta-Analysis

Pei-Hua Tsai
National Changhua University of Education
Changhua City, Taiwan

Lung-Hsing Kuo
National Kaohsiung Normal University
Kaohsiung City, Taiwan

Using multimedia in classroom language learning has been shown to be consistently superior to an all-lecture approach, as it allows learners to be exposed to authentic material, saving learning time, and results in a better performance. Video texts have become a teaching resources which is commonly used in language classrooms. Language learners who are not proficient often find it difficult to understand the oral speech in video texts. Several studies have found that captioning films is beneficial for expanding learners’ capability in listening comprehension. This article presents a meta-analysis of multimedia programme effectiveness research on listening comprehension.

The paper summarizes experimental intervention studies on multimedia and language learning for listening comprehension that have included students ranging from high school to university level. The interventions on the instructional components have included language types, captioning languages, and order. The effect sizes for a corpus of 29 intervention studies are analysed across instructional domains, subgroup sample characteristics, intervention parameters, and methodological procedures.

The meta-analysis of studies controlled for captioning status indicates a more positive effect for a combined model that includes components using multimedia with native-language and target-language subtitles than for competing models conducted in lectures. Interventions varied in control conditions in terms of teaching material, and types of captioning; and interventions which controlled for such variations yielded larger effect sizes than studies that failed to do so.

The results support the all-pervasive influence of captioning video texts as teaching material for promoting listening comprehension. Based on the findings of this study, it is suggested that instructors should take the benefits of captions into consideration when using video texts to teach listening skills.