Macquarie University
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An investigation of subtitles as learning support in university education

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posted on 2022-03-28, 10:55 authored by Wing Shan Chan
Past literature on the benefits of subtitles has yielded contradictory results as variables such as language proficiency, language history, subtitle language, and subtitle characteristics have not been fully and consistently controlled. Furthermore, there is little research on the actual processing and impact of subtitles as learning support for first and second language learners in academic contexts - an evidently growing area of need. Using a mixed-methods approach, the current study aims to investigate the processing and resultant impact of subtitles on English and Chinese-speaking students in terms of their comprehension and cognitive load. Experiment1 (n=103) of the study was a five-week data collection in an authentic university classroom and revealed that English-speaking participants had lower self-reported cognitive load in reading foreign language subtitles while the presence of subtitles had no impact on Chinese-speaking participants. Experiment 2 (n=70) was a laboratory-based experiment replicating Experiment1 with a group of Chinese first-language students in a more controlled environment in which three conditions were examined: first-language subtitles, second-language subtitles, and no subtitles. First-language subtitles were found to result in improved comprehension. The current study adds further insight and complement existing research on the effectiveness of subtitles and subtitle language that second-language learners reading first-language subtitles improve performance in an academic context. The results provide a valuable implication on education pedagogy in terms of assisting second-language learners in achieving their highest potential academically without being disadvantaged by possible language barriers.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction -- Chapter 2. Literature Review -- Chapter 3 Experiment 1: Methodology 1 -- Chapter 4. Experiment 1: Result 1 -- Chapter 5. Experiment 2: Methodology 2 -- Chapter 6. Experiment 2: Result 2 -- Chapter 7. Discussion -- Chapter 8 Conclusion -- References.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 135-143

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Medicine, Health and Human Sciences, Department of Linguistics

Department, Centre or School

Department of Linguistics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Stephen Doherty


Copyright Wing Shan Chan 2020. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (205 pages)

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