The potential benefits of subtitles for enhancing language acquisition and literacy in children: An integrative review of experimental research

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While a considerable body of experimental work has been conducted since the beginning of the 1980s to study whether subtitles enhance the acquisition of other languages in adults, research of this type investigating subtitles as a tool for enhancing children’s language learning and literacy has received less attention. This study provides an integrative review of existing studies in this area and finds extensive evidence that subtitled AV content can indeed aid the acquisition of other languages in children and adolescents, and that it can moreover enhance the literacy skills of children learning to read in their L1 or the official language of the country in which they live and receive schooling. Recommendations for future research are also made, and it is highlighted that further research using eye tracking to measure children’s gaze behaviour could shed new light on their attention to and processing of subtitled AV content.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-97
Number of pages24
JournalTranslation, Cognition & Behavior
Issue number1
Early online date9 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • subtitles
  • language acquisition
  • literacy
  • cognitive processing
  • children

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