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.
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Koolstra, C.M., Beentjes, J.W.J. Children's vocabulary acquisition in a foreign language through watching subtitled television programs at home. ETR&D 47, 51–60 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02299476