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Subtitling Matters

New Perspectives on Subtitling and Foreign Language Learning


Elisa Ghia

Drawing on recent theoretical developments in second language acquisition, this book proposes a new approach to the learning of foreign languages through subtitled audiovisual input. Subtitled text is explored as a source of language acquisition, and its dialogue and subtitle components are focused on as sources of linguistic input. The primary focus of the research is subtitling and the impact it can have on learners’ noticing and acquisition of linguistic structures. The concept of translational salience is introduced, a phenomenon that can occur due to an accentuated contrast between L2 dialogue and L1 subtitles. Two experimental studies on the acquisition of English syntax by Italian learners are used to test the role of translational salience in both noticing and L2 learning. The results lead to a definition of salience particular to the audiovisual medium and raise challenging issues in the pedagogic applications of subtitling.


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Chapter 6 Results


6.1 Introduction This chapter is devoted to the analysis and description of the data gathered from the acquisitional study described in Chapter 5. After data collection and test scoring, descriptive and inferential statistics were carried out on the data. A first phase of the analysis involved ANOVA comparisons between the control groups (conditions of no exposure and exposure to non-sub- titled input) in order to investigate the ef fect of exposure regardless of the presence of subtitles and to monitor learners’ potential growth from pretest to posttest. Subsequent ANOVA tests were performed on the three experimental groups to assess the ef fect of time, treatment (transla- tion strategy) and their interaction on learners’ degree of accuracy in the production of the targeted structures. ANOVAs were performed on the totality of the tests and on single tasks in isolation. In the spoken produc- tion tasks, statistical tests specifically measured any significant variation in accuracy of constituent order in clauses and the complexity of the phrases produced by learners. A few details of learners’ production are provided to explore in what ways features of learners’ output changed across time and in relation to the specific experimental treatment. Global trends are then extracted from the data, with a view to formulating a more thorough definition of translational salience. 130 Chapter 6 6.2 The Control Groups The acquisitional study involved the presence of two control groups. Learners in Control Group 1 were exposed to the films in the absence of any subtitles. Participants in...

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