Skip to main content Accessibility help

The effects of captions in teenagers’ multimedia L2 learning

  • Laurence Lwo (a1) and Michelle Chia-Tzu Lin (a2)


This study aims to explore the impact of different captions on second language (L2) learning in a computer-assisted multimedia context. A quasi-experimental design was adopted, and a total of thirty-two eighth graders selected from a junior high school joined the study. They were systematically assigned into four groups based on their proficiency in English; these groups were shown animations with English narration and one of the following types of caption: no captions (M1), Chinese captions (M2), English captions (M3), and Chinese plus English captions (M4). A multimedia English learning program was conducted; the learning content involved two scientific articles presented on a computer. To track the learning process, data on oral repetition were collected after each sentence or scene was played. A post-test evaluation and a semi-structured interview were conducted immediately after viewing. The results show that the effect of different captions in multimedia L2 learning with respect to vocabulary acquisition and reading comprehension depend on students’ L2 proficiency. With English and Chinese + English captions, learners with low proficiency performed better in learning English relative to those who did not have such captions. Students relied on graphics and animation as an important tool for understanding English sentences.


Corresponding author

1Corresponding author


Hide All
Borràs, L.Lafayette, R. (1994) Effects of multimedia courseware subtitling on the speaking performance of college students of French. The Modern Language Journal, 78(4): 6175.
Chun, D. M.Plass, J. L. (1996a) Effects of multimedia annotations on vocabulary acquisition. The Modern Language Journal, 80(2): 182198.
Chun, D. M.Plass, J. L. (1996b) Facilitating reading comprehension with multimedia. System, 24(4): 503519.
Garza, T. J. (1991) Evaluating the use of captioned video materials in advanced foreign language learning. Foreign Language Annals, 24(3): 239258.
Humberman, A. M.Miles, M. B. (1994) Data management and analysis methods. In: Denzin, N. K. and Lincoln, Y. S. (eds.), Handbook of qualitative research. London: Sage.
Katchen, J. E. (1996) First language subtitle: help or hindrance? Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Japan Association of Language Teachers. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. 421873.
Koolstra, C. M.Beentjes, J. W. J. (1999) Children's vocabulary acquisition in a foreign language through watching subtitled television programs at home. Educational Technology, Research and Development, 47(1): 5160.
Kost, C. R., Foss, P.Lenzini, J. J. (1999) Textual and pictorial glosses: effectiveness on incidental vocabulary growth when reading in a foreign language. Foreign Language Annals, 32(1): 89113.
Lin, H. I. (2005) Developing a New Model for Captioned Video Teaching in Taiwanese Elementary Schools. English Learning & Teaching, 29(4): 2138.
Markham, P. (1989) The effects of captioned television videotapes on the listening comprehension of beginning, intermediate, advanced ESL students. Educational Technology, 29(10): 3841.
Markham, P. (1999) Captioned videotapes and second-language listening word recognition. Foreign Language Annals, 32(3): 321327.
Markham, P. L., Peter, L. A.McCarthy, T. J. (2001) The effects of native language vs. target language captions on foreign language students’ DVD video comprehension. Foreign Language Annals, 34(5): 439445.
Mayer, R. E.Sims, V. K. (1994) For whom is a picture worth a thousand words? Extensions of a dual-coding theory of multimedia learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 86(3): 389401.
Mayer, R. E.Moreno, R. (1998) A split-attention effect in multimedia learning: evidence for dual processing systems in working memory. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90(2): 312320.
Mayer, R. E. (2001) Multimedia Learning. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Moreno, R.Mayer, R. E. (1999) Cognitive principles of multimedia learning: the role of modality and contiguity. Journal of Educational Psychology, 91(2): 358368.
Moreno, R.Mayer, R. E. (2000) A coherence effect in multimedia learning: the case for minimizing irrelevant sounds in the design of multimedia instructional messages. Journal of Educational Psychology, 92(1): 117125.
Moreno, R.Mayer, R. E. (2002) Learning science in virtual reality environments: role of methods and media. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94(3): 598610.
Neuman, S. B.Koskinen, P. (1992) Captioned television as comprehensible input:effects of incidental word learning from context for language minority students. Reading Research Quarterly, 27: 95106.
O'Neil, S. (1999a) Snail. St. Leonards, Australia: Horwitz Martin Education.
O'Neil, S. (1999b) Sleeping Animals. St. Leonards, Australia: Horwitz Martin Education.
Paivio, A. (1971) Imagery and verbal processes. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
Paivio, A. (1990) Mental representations: a dual coding approach. New York: Oxford University Press.
Plass, J. L., Chun, D. M., Mayer, R. E.Leutner, D. (1998) Supporting visual and verbal learning preferences in a second-language multimedia learning environment. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90(1): 2536.
Stewart, M. A. (2004) Gains to language learners from viewing target language closed-captioned films. Foreign Language Annals, 37(3): 438447.
Sweller, J. (1989) Cognitive technology: some procedures for facilitating learning and problem solving in Mathematics and Science. Journal of Educational Psychology, 81(4): 457466.
Sweller, J. (1994) Cognitive load theory learning difficulty, and instructional design. Learning and Instruction, 4: 295312.
Sweller, J.Chandler, P. (1994) Why some material is difficult to learn. Cognition and Instruction, 12(3): 185233.
Taylor, G. (2005) Perceived processing strategies of students watching captioned video. Foreign Language Annals, 38(1): 422427.
Yuen, C. Y. (1991) Multimedia: how it changes the way we teach and learn. Electronic Learning, 11(1): 2226.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0958-3440
  • EISSN: 1474-0109
  • URL: /core/journals/recall
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed