With 1.5 billion global speakers, English is still one of the most influential languages in the
world. ‘The English Propaganda’ – as they call it – appears in a myriad of works, ranging from
Christopher Nolan’s linguistic screenplays (excellent displays of modern anachronism by the
way) to the well articulated stanzas in Shakespeare’s plays.
Taking your first step into learning English can be overwhelming. Mitigating the social norms
of linguistic education – which is a bureaucratic cycle of listening, noting, and doing
assignments – we should encourage learners to take a slightly more indulgent approach to
learning a new language. That is, by actually exposing themselves to the linguistic culture of
the language.
It is more effective by turning on Taratino’s ironic ‘Kill Bill’, than to overload yourself with a
bunch of worksheets that depend solely on memorization. Picking dialogue-heavy films and
shows with subtitles can influence learners’ linguistic comprehension, phonology,
orthography, and syntax analysis.
The same way in machine and augmented learning where the more inputs there are put into
a sorting algorithm/system, the more collective it becomes hence improving its conscience
thus the performance.
An experiment was made by Mitterer and McQueen (from the Institute for Psycholinguistics
in the Netherlands), upon studying the effects of subtitles [in films] and whether or not they
improve English speech perception for second language learners, the pair advertently
selected a TV show where the more conventional (British) English was used, targeting sixty
non-proficient English speakers (most of them being spanish-catalan bilinguals). Following
the briefing, two tests were given to the volunteers before and after watching the episode,
and a plot comprehension only post-episode.
According to the same report, the produced outcomes were somewhat expected – a 17%
increase in listening scores with proper English subtitles; 7% increase for no subtitles; no
increase for Spanish subtitles.
The first criteria has already matched its initial hypothesis, ‘subtitles in the original language
can be used to retune the link of speech-sounds with perceptive categories,’
Audiovisual stimuli is a vital part of our cognitive analyses, meaning that what we hear and
see simultaneously on television screens are often more easily absorbed than visual or
audio stimulants alone.
Another similarly laid-out experiment was conducted in Indonesia, setting out two initial
a). The influence of watching English movies by using subtitles toward students’
speaking skills for the first grade students of public senior high school.
b). To know the response of students in the learning process by using English movies
with subtitles.
Once again, the students were asked to complete a pre-test. After that, the experimental
class was assessed on five major criterions – pronunciation, fluency, grammar,
comprehension, and vocabulary – ‘through watching movies by using subtitles and held for
four meetings.’
*The overall test consists of a pre-test, ‘treatments’, and posttests.
The results were concluded into two segments, in which both supported the initial
hypotheses: i). Watching the English movie with subtitles can influence students’ speaking
skills; the students’ pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, fluency, and comprehension further
improved post-movies. ii). Students provided positive responses to the researchers after
watching the movies, i.e. students are able to create well formatted responses to the
teachers after watching the series of episodes.
It can be seen from the results of student observation sheets increasing from one meeting to
another. This is backed up by simple linear regression analysis.
Though both experiments only showed short-term acquisitions of English media exposure, it
instead shifts the emphasis to how effective watching English movies or shows with proper
subtitles are towards second-language learners.
This unconventional way of learning and absorbing English is incredibly feasible and
effective if used correctly. English films and TV shows can be accessed everywhere – free on
the archive, and some with mandatory subscriptions – with the novel advancements of our
technology. While indulging in the content itself, one is able to absorb linguistic skills through
both auditory and visual display – that’s a win-win! However, if one is to pick a very
visually-oriented film with very few dialogues and destitute of subtitles, the effects may be
dormant and ineffective, hence it is incredibly important to choose the content wisely,
tailoring to your linguistic needs.
After all, our generation is best known for defying conventional education!

Birulés-Muntané, J. and Soto-Faraco, S. (2016) Watching subtitled Films can help
learning foreign languages, PloS one. Available at:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4927148/ (Accessed: 21 August 2023).
Object], [object (no date) The influence of watching English movie by using subtitle
toward students’ speaking skill, CORE. Available at:
https://core.ac.uk/reader/287159244 (Accessed: 21 August 2023)

Author: Avery Yau