Using Captions to Support Literacy

Closed captions are not just for the deaf and hard of hearing. Studies show that those who use closed-captioned programming in the home and classroom improve students’ learning. The connection between literacy and closed captioning has sparked nationwide interest. In addition to using closed captions for educational programming, students can increase vocabulary, comprehension, and reading skills by watching entertainment programs with captions turned on. Captioning can benefit children and adults and are effective for students with learning disabilities, those who are learning English, and struggling or reluctant readers.

Closed Captions and Literacy in the Home

It isn’t enough to teach reading in the classroom; students must engage in literacy activities in the home as well. Watching television programs, online content, and movies with the accompanying closed captioning helps improve literacy skills. One of the advantages of using closed captioning in the home is that studies show that children actually enjoy the captions. Closed captioning is accessible through the menu panel of the television or on the remote control and is available for educational and entertainment programming and music videos. If a child has a favorite movie that they enjoy, closed captioning will help a child read along while developing vital skills. Appropriate music videos can help children engage with the written word in a fun and non-intimidating manner.

Parents may use closed captioning with early childhood videos to ensure that children are familiar with words. Using closed-captioned videos is an effective way to learn sight words and reinforce early reading skills. As some children may become bored with traditional reading methods, using closed captioning can be a fun, entertaining, and engaging way to present reading in a new way. Another benefit of using closed captioning for literacy in the home is that it allows children and adults to practice reading skills regardless of their level. Children of various reading levels, ages, and grades may all benefit simultaneously while watching a program with video captioning. Parents who want to ensure that their children practice reading in a fun yet effective environment will find many benefits by enabling closed captioning on televisions, DVDs, and online streaming media.

Closed Captions and Literacy in the Classroom

Students who are having difficulty in the classroom with reading and other literacy skills may benefit from the use of closed captioning. Teachers who work with beginning readers, children who are learning English as a second language, or simply those who are looking for innovative ways to present media to children may find that closed captioning is an effective teaching tool. One of the greatest advantages to using closed captions in the classroom is that it is inexpensive. Most educational videos are equipped with closed captioning, and the teacher needs only to display them to the class. Studies show that children retain more information when they read text along with an educational presentation. Additionally, the teacher may stop or pause an educational video at a certain point and have students take notes or write pertinent information from the video. Broadcast television, cable programming, and DVDs engage children, and by incorporating closed captioning, you can increase the amount of information students retain. Studies have also shown that students retain, comprehend, and learn more from a closed-captioned video than audio alone.

As children in the classroom often have varying learning methods, using closed captioning can help address many needs. Those using videos in the classroom will find that audio, visual, and kinesthetic learners all benefit from the combination of reading closed captions, watching video, and writing information down. For those who are just learning to read, closed captioning can introduce basic reading skills. Phonics, spelling, reading comprehension, fluency, and decoding skills are important factors that contribute to literacy as a whole. For students who are avoiding the written word in some forms (such as books), exposure to reading through closed captioning offers tremendous advantages. By using videos that engage a child’s interest and then introducing text captioning, students will find that reading becomes fun. The combination of seeing written words while hearing them spoken aloud improves vocabulary naturally and efficiently. Closed captioning and subtitles are also beneficial to students just learning the English language.

Kim Wicker