The Role of Subtitles in Second Language Acquisition: An experimental study in the context of the Norwegian school system
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The aim of this master’s thesis is to provide further information about the role of subtitled audiovisual material in second language acquisition. Quantitative experimental research was conducted with 49 17-year-old Norwegian high school students as participants. The participants were divided into three groups identical to their original school classes. One group watched an episode of the American animated cartoon Family Guy with Norwegian subtitles, the second group watched the same episode with English subtitles, and the control group watched the episode with no subtitles. Immediately after watching the episode, the participants responded to a comprehension questionnaire in order to investigate the potential short term effects of the subtitles, and four weeks later they responded to a word definition task and a lexical decision task in order to measure potential long term effects. The results indicated only short term effects of the subtitles as the presence of subtitles in the Norwegian group and the English group predicted better performance in the comprehension questionnaire. No effects of the subtitles were found in the word definition task and the lexical decision task, indicating that there were no long term effects of the subtitles in these two experiments. The analysis, however, also revealed other significant factors that positively predicted the participants’ performance on all the three tests.