Thursday, 10 May 2012

* Same-language subtitling as an efficient campaign to boost literacy
Subtitles are usually the domain of Danish thrillers or obscure films about the sufferings of Anatolian peasants: posh foreign imports, in other words. But in India, the state broadcaster Doordarshan puts Hindi subtitles on programmes of Hindi film songs, Gujarati captions on Gujarati shows and so on. It may sound daft, but Brij Kothari's same-language subtitling (SLS) is one of the simplest and boldest literacy campaigns around. Over 250 million Indians who are classed as literate cannot even read newspaper headlines – and by captioning popular Hindi or Bengali songs in the same language, adults and children get a fun lesson in their mother tongue. It's effective, too. A Nielsen study of 13,000 children showed that 24% became good readers with schooling alone. But when exposed to 30 minutes a week of subtitled film songs, that proportion more than doubled to 56%. To use the Hindi: theek hai, na (pretty good, eh?).



    India is not the only country with literacy problems. Of the 93 million adults in the U.S. functioning at or below basic levels of literacy, 30 million are the parents or primary caregivers of children ages 0-8 (National Center for Family Literacy Fact Sheet). One in three adults in the U.S.A. cannot read this sentence.(National Assessment of Adult Literacy, 2003) Currently more than eight million students in U.S.A. in grades 4-12 read well-below grade level.

    Same-Language-Subtitling or dynamic captioning should be supported by American Broadcasting companies and included on all music video.

  2. Brilliant finding. Should be replicated all over the world. Hats off.


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