Skip to content Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf & Hard of Hearing Persons

Research on Using Subtitled Music Video for Reading Growth

Research on Using Subtitled Music for Reading Growth

A review of the report from a study of “Same Language Subtitling (SLS): Using Subtitled Music for Reading Growth” is now on the website of the U.S. Department of Education. Here are some excerpts:

What is this study about?
This randomized controlled trial examined the impacts of Same-Language-Subtitling (SLS), a karaoke-style subtitling intervention, on the reading comprehension skills of secondary school students in Kaneohe, Hawaii.

Researchers randomly assigned 198 secondary school students with learning disabilities (ages 14 to 19) to either special education classrooms using the SLSintervention or comparison classrooms (special or general education). The final study sample consisted of 51 students in the intervention condition and 98 students in the comparison condition.2

Teachers in the intervention condition used SLS to encourage reading and increase reading proficiency over a 12-week period. Students engaged in SLS view­ing/response activities for 15–20 minutes per day at the beginning of class, during which they completed cloze-style worksheets and responded to comprehension questions while viewing the SLS recordings. During the last six weeks of the intervention, they also spent a mini­mum of 90 minutes per week producing subtitled multi­media files. Students in the comparison group received the school’s regular “business-as-usual” curriculum.

Researchers assessed the effectiveness of SLS by comparing the reading comprehension achievement of students in the SLS intervention and comparison con­ditions at the end of the 12-week intervention in June, and again after the summer break in September.3

What did the study find?
The study did not report the statistical significance of the impact of the SLS intervention. However, WWC calculations indicate that students in the SLSintervention condition scored significantly higher than students in the comparison condition on the reading comprehension achievement posttests.

Features of Same-Language-Subtitling (SLS)
SLS is the practice of using videos with a format similar to karaoke, where captioned text changes color in synchronization with audio. The purpose is to encourage reading and increase reading proficiency. Students are able to hear the words being spoken/sung and read the words being spoken/sung at the same time.

SLS typically uses repetitive sources of audio, such as music, poetry, audiobooks, or occasionally, famous speeches. In the study described in this WWC report, the researchers used audio from three Broadway musicals that contained lyrics above the students’ reading levels: “Les Miserables,” “Cats,” and “Big River.”

In the final six weeks of the intervention, students produced subtitled multimedia files from the “Big River” CD during study hall time periods.

SLS was developed by Dr. Brij Kothari, the president of PlanetRead, a non-profit organization dedicated to reading and literacy development. It was originally used with Bollywood film songs on TV to promote literacy in India.

For more information:

Distributed 2013 by Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons (NVRC), 3951 Pender Drive, Suite 130, Fairfax, VA 22030;; 703-352-9055 V, 703-352-9056 TTY, 703-352-9058 Fax. Items in this newsletter are provided for information purposes only; NVRC does not endorse products or services. This news service is free of charge, but donations are greatly appreciated.