Children's vocabulary acquisition in a foreign language through watching subtitled television programs at home

  • Cees M. Koolstra
  • Jonannes W. J. Beentjes


Subtitled television programs seem to provide a rich context for foreign language acquisition. Moreover, viewers are generally quite motivated to understand what is shown and said on television. The present study investigated whether children in Grades 4 and 6 (N = 246) learn English words through watching a television program with an English soundtrack and Dutch subtitles. Children were randomly assigned to one of three experimental conditions: (a) watching an English television program with Dutch subtitles, (b) watching the same English program without subtitles, and (c) watching a Dutch television program (control). The study was carried out using a 15-min documentary about grizzly bears. Vocabulary acquisition and recognition of English words were highest in the subtitled condition, indicating that Dutch elementary school children can incidentally acquire vocabulary in a foreign language through watching subtitled television programs.


Elementary School School Child Educational Technology Foreign Language English Word 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cees M. Koolstra
    • 1
  • Jonannes W. J. Beentjes
    • 2
  1. 1.Leiden UniversityThe Netherlands
  2. 2.the University of NijmegenThe Netherlands

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