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  • iheartsubtitles 11:57 am on September 19, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Education, , ,   

    MOOC’s, Learning and Education 

    Please don’t think a lack of blog posts over the summer means a lack of interest in the subject of all things captioning and subtitling, far from it. In fact in an attempt to improve my skills and knowledge, one of things that I’ve been busy with is learning. I took my first steps into the world of MOOC’s. In case you are unfamiliar with the term, it stands for Massive Open Online Courses. They are courses that exist online, and the majority consist of a combination of reading material and video lectures.

    So you can probably guess what I am going to comment on next. As a hard of hearing person, just how accessible was the video content? Well it goes without saying that a key factor in me choosing a MOOC was not just the subject matter but whether the video and audio content was subtitled or captioned in English. The two MOOC’s I took were from FutureLearn and Coursera*

    A screenshot of Coursera's Course At A Glance details hours of study, length of the course, language of the course, and language of subititles that are available.

    Coursera – At A Glance section of the page detailing subtitle availability

    A screenshot of FutureLearn's FAQ webpage noting that subtitles are available

    FutureLearn’s FAQ includes information on the availability of subtitles


    I am happy to say that it was relatively easy for me to find out if content on their courses was subtitled. I particularly like Coursera’s clear layout and course summary from a course’s main page which tells you if subtitles are available. You have to dig a little deeper to find the answer on FutureLearn’s website but it is there in a detailed FAQ – Technology and Accessibility page. All of FutureLearn’s courses are subtitled in English, I am unsure if that is the case for Coursera.

    But…having established that the video content of the course itself is subtitled, why oh why, on both websites, is the introductory video not also subtitled! I have to rely only on the text description of the course to decide if it is the right one for me. This is the only opportunity you have to make me a ‘customer’ and commit to joining your course, so why are you leaving this video out?  It’s clear time and effort has been put into recording and editing them – so for goodness sake make them accessible and add subtitles!

    So what was the quality of the subtitling of the course content like I hear you ask? Well, varied to be honest. Starting with the good – the errors that did occur in the subtitles for both MOOC courses were not frequent enough to stop me from understanding and completing assignments. The most grave example – where a word error actually changed the meaning of the sentence came from Coursera. For example the phrase “Dublin Core” was subtitled as “Double Encore” and it was a horrible distraction when trying to understand a new topic that I had not studied before. When I pointed this out in the course forums, the staff explained it was likely due to an  auto-captioning error and apologised for the mistake. They also fixed the error relatively quickly allowing me to watch the video again two days later with much less confusion. Whilst it would have been better if the error was not there at all the speed of the response to fix it meant I didn’t get left behind in my studies. On the FutureLearn course one video used an incorrect word. I have to admit if it wasn’t for my own lip-reading skills I may not have realised this. When I posted a comment about it, it wasn’t the staff that responded but a very helpful fellow learner who clarified the correct word for me.

    Now for the not so good. Anyone who is a professional subtitler or captioner will know the importance of chunking, character limits per line and reading speeds. Now assuming the same guidelines for subtitling pre-recorded content for captioning/subtitles on broadcast TV also applies to pre-recorded educational MOOC videos (I don’t see why not but please comment if you disagree) these rules were not adhered to. The question is did it stop me learning? Honestly, no it didn’t (I can at least pause,rewind online) but it did make the retention and understanding harder. The user experience was not as good as it could have been. It is not what I am used to. I would prefer that the level of quality I am used to seeing on broadcast TV and DVD is replicated for MOOC videos.

    Another issue, for both courses is that the teacher would sometimes direct you to an external resource such as another website or video not hosted by the MOOC platform itself. And here’s where the access falls down. On both FutureLearn and Coursera the external content contained videos that were not subtitled or captioned. So I was unable to benefit from this. Now it would be nice if the platforms only allowed external links if the content has been made accessible. However the decision to include such content is probably at the discretion of the teacher not the MOOC platform. It’s exactly the same issue we currently see with VOD (Video on Demand) platforms. They might host the video but they are not the providers of content for whom it is generally accepted that the responsibility to provide the captioning or subtitling lies with. Did this prevent me from learning and passing tests and assignments? Thankfully no, because for both courses the external content was an optional extra but it still stands that this current format/situation does not equate to equal access to content. And that is most certainly a bad thing.

    Both MOOC courses that I took allowed students on the course to download a transcript of all videos (Coursera also allow you to download the subtitle file itself). This is a nice tool that all pupils on the course can benefit from. And this brings me to the point of one of the reasons I set up this blog – the belief that subtitles and closed captioning are not just a resource for deaf and hard of hearing communities, they are for everyone. There has been numerous research and studies over the last 20-30 years that suggest subtitles and closed captioning can help improve reading skills, literacy and the retention of information. There are a few websites that highlight this, the most comprehensive are Captions For Literacy and Zane Education.

    A photo of a captioned TV, the front cover of the National Captioning Institute - Guide for Using Captioned Television in the Teaching of Reading

    SOURCE: National Captioning Institute – Guide for Using Captioned Television in the Teaching of Reading (1987)

    Some of this research has been recognised and there are resources for teachers in Australia via Cap That!, and the USA via Read Captions Across America and Reading Rockets.  In fact, the USA as far back as 1987 realised the benefits and the National Captioning Institute published a guide for teachers.

    Does anyone know if there are or have been similar publications or resources for teachers in the UK? I have been unable to find anything and given the level of subtitled coverage on TV we now have, it seems a missed opportunity for teachers not to use it as a learning tool and encourage their use?

    Going back to MOOC’s , the global nature of the internet means its recognised that subtitles are needed given the course can be taken anywhere in the world and a pupil might need to read subtitles in their own language or use same language subtitles to aid their understanding. And everyone stands to benefit from this. I really enjoyed the experience overall and will absolutely consider taking more subtitled MOOC courses in the future.

    I haven’t even mentioned the services of CART (Communication Access in Real Time) or STT/STTR (Speech To Text) as an educational tool yet. These services were not available to me as a student but where they have been made available for at talks, meetings, or events I have absolutely benefited from being better at retaining the information being spoken simply because I can read every word.  I look forward to more research and evidence in the area of real-time live subtitling/captioning access because again I think all learners could benefit from this not just those who struggle to hear what is being said.

    What has been your experience with using captioning or subtitling as an educational tool been?

    *other accessible MOOCs are available.

    • Claude Almansi 12:17 am on September 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Great post, Dawn: thank you.

      About the “double encore” for “Dublin core” error in a Coursera lecture that you mention: I think the instructor was mistaken in saying it was likely due to an auto-captioning error: Coursera used to visit appalling automatically voice-recognition generated original subs (1) on volunteer translators when it was using an Amara.org team, but at least, volunteers were able to fix them – in the course videos as well – before translating them.

      But with their new crowdtranslating initiative called the Global Translator Community (GTC), they said, in a hangout for GTC volunteers:

      “…When they [Coursera’s university partners] request captioning, that goes to a company that we work with,that does human language-captioning of videos. So then people listen to the videos and actually,humans write out the words that are being spoken on the screens.
      Now, the people who are doing these captions, they are not subject-matter experts,so, for instance in the course on Machine Learning, you know,they’re probably going to get some words wrong, there are going to be grammatical mistakes and, you know, one of the challenges that I realize, that we certainly realize is a challenge,is that English transcripts are not perfect.We think that they’ve improved a lot, we’ve worked with this provider that we use to improve that.I don’t know if any, if actually some of you had been on the platform for a couple of yearsand saw the transcripts back in 2012,and maybe you can tell that they have gone better — I hope so.” (1)

      Actually they haven’t, by a long shot: there might be fewer transcription errors than with the former auto-captions, though that’s arguable, but now, as the GTC uses Transifex, which is NOT a subtitling app, for translating the original subtitles, volunteers have no way to fix them anymore: hence the staple absurd splitting, frequent bad syncing, sometimes long unsubtitled parts, not to mention inane mentions of non verbal audio, like just [music] without describing it. So on June 6, Coursera staff started a Google spreadsheet, http://goo.gl/ilB1uK , where volunteers are meant to report these original subtitles issues via a form, so staff can respond to them. Problem: staff hasn’t responded to a single entry after June 16.

      About captioning for literacy: not UK but Indian: http://www.planetread.org/ . Pity the video on the home page is uncaptioned, but the site offers many resources, theoretical and practical.

      As to my use of captioning in education: in a couple of really open online courses for Italian teachers organized by Andreas Formiconi (3), I deviously started captioning some videos then asked if other participants would like to join. Only a few did, but they got really interested, and some posted about it in their blogs.

      (1) See https://github.com/acli/Coursera-subtitles#things-to-watch-out-for-if-you-want-to-work-on-courseras-subtitles

      (2) From the the transcript generated by the captions in http://www.amara.org/en/videos/4H50v2EYDXP7/info/global-translator-community-hangout-with-daphne-koller/

      (3) See his http://iamarf.org/ blog


      • iheartsubtitles 10:22 am on September 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Hi Claude, thanks for commenting. Some very interesting background and links with regards to Coursera’s subtitling and captioning methods.


    • Arlene Mayerson 7:57 pm on September 29, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I am a lawyer with the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund who litigated the Netflix case. If any one has trouble accessing MOOC’s because of lack of captions, please contact me at amayerson@dredf.org. Thanks.


  • iheartsubtitles 10:43 am on August 12, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Education,   

    Subtitles to learn a second language – resources 

    A lot of viewers to this blog are using search terms that seem to relate to using subtitles to learn a second language so depending on feedback I get I may later change this blog post into a page for reference in the future.  My question is how many good resources are there on the web that help with this? Of course anyone can watch a DVD and/or download a subtitle file in the language they are trying to learn but what about other resources?

    Here are some I have found to date. I cannot vouch for their usefulness since I am not using any to learn a language but I have included them because they offer something extra than just a subtitle file.

    Audio Verb

    An interesting website for learning Chinese.

    A screen shot of the Audio Verb website

    Audio Verb website

    Clip Flair

    Clip Flair describes itself as Foreign Language Learning through Interactive Captioning and Revoicing of Clips. It is an online tool that allows users to create clips, revoice them, and subtitle them. The video below demonstrates how it works. (Note: there is no audio dialogue on this video)

    Anyone learning English as a second language that is also a music lover might want to check out the musicESL You Tube channel and the website MusicEnglish for collections of subtitled music videos. If music is not your thing then Voice of America (VOA) has captioned You Tube videos for viewers to learn American English and much more with captioned news reports that are read at a slower speed.

    If anyone else knows of any good online resources please comment and share. Thanks!

  • iheartsubtitles 12:02 pm on March 1, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Education,   

    Read Captions Across America Day has arrived! 

    Captions Across America 2013 logo

    Captions Across America – March 1st 2013

    Today is Read Captions Across America Day! This is a great initiative set up by the Described and Captioned Media Program to encourage people to turn on the closed captioning when watching television for the educational benefit of reading and improved literacy:

    What captioned media would you choose to watch? The DCMP has a library of content available online Be sure also to check out Book Box which specialises in animated stories with subtitles to improve language and literacy skills which are posted to You Tube:

  • iheartsubtitles 2:56 pm on February 4, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Education, , , , ,   

    Closed Captioning to learn a language – old tech meets new tech 

    I have blogged before about whether using subtitles to learn a second language is a good or bad thing, but recently I came across a nifty project that aims to help people do just that. Easy Way Language Center has hooked up a computer to capture the closed captions of Brazilian TV stations. The computer then uses Google Translate to translate the captions into another language of your choice. Click on the image below to watch the video explaining how this works.

    Image - Easy Way Subtitles

    Easy Way Subtitles uses Closed Captioning [CC] and Google Translate

    Image - Easy Way Subtitles

    Easy Way Subtitles – A computer hooked up to the TV captures all the closed captioning to put into Google Translate

    Image - Easy Way Subtitles on iPhone

    Easy Way Subtitles – The translation is streamed to a second screen

    The Easy Way Subtitles website allows you to select the TV channel and the language you wish to translate the captions into online and you can watch the subtitles stream back to you on the web page, although without the context of knowing what is airing on the channel itself at the time you do this makes it difficult to apply any context to what you are reading. Still I like the use of technology here. What do you think? A good way to learn, or not enough quality control to avoid translation mistakes? After all the captions themselves in the original language might not be correct in the first place though of course they should be.

  • iheartsubtitles 8:33 pm on January 24, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Education, ,   

    Subtitles to learn a second language – good or bad? 

    I’ve already made several posts on this blog pointing to evidence and examples of how subtitling can improve literacy and help same language learning via SLS (Same Language Subtitling). But what about learning English as second language? (ESL) I came across an article online recently that gives some strong arguments as to why using subtitles may not be the best method:

    (a) reading and listening constitute two very different brain functions, which, when attempted simultaneously, tend to cancel each other out. Or do your most scintillating conversations with your spouse take place when he or she is reading the Sunday papers?

    (b) As an EFL learner, you can visit England, Scotland, Canada or New Zealand; but not Subtitled England; Subtitled Scotland; Subtitled Canada (“ay?”) and Subtitled New Zealand. If we want to equip learners to function in English in the real world, we shouldn’t create an artificial learning medium which simply doesn’t exist in that real world.

    (c) A corollary to (b): half the battle in language learning is building up self-confidence in the target language, even if not everything is understood and production mistakes are made. To lull learners into a false sense of security via subtitles, only to yank them away in real-life situations when they really need to execute on unassisted comprehension, can do much to harm a learner’s self-confidence. That’s why the first phase of our Video Booster video-based exercises on English Attack! is called Survival Test. The exercise is designed to foster confidence in understanding the gist of a video passage, without subtitles, even if not every single word or fact is understood: in fact, it’s healthy to convey to learners that even mother-tongue English speakers don’t understand every single word in an English language film (Trainspotting, anyone?).

    SOURCE: English Attack!

    On the other hand, the musicESL channel on You Tube encourages learning English through music with its subtitled videos:


    I’m not a multi-lingual person and I always struggled with learning other languages at school. I was much better at reading a foreign language than I was speaking it or understanding someone speaking it. Some people I’ve spoken to have told me that when learning ESL they used subtitles on DVDs to help. I think subtitles can help, but perhaps more in learning to write the language than a real life scenario of understanding speaking and speaking the language back? What are other people’s views?

    • Dianrez 10:22 pm on January 24, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Not being a language teacher, I hesitate to comment here. These studies, however, come from hearing populations, and auditory input is prominient in this discussion.

      For Deaf people, captioning/subtitling is a major input. It parallels reading English in print such as books, graphic novels, newspapers, etc. There is no significant hearing input here.

      Personally, I found it interesting when reading books such as “A Clockwork Orange” where a fictional language is interleaved with English text, that I was picking up the fictional language and its unique syntax rather easily. It occured to me that likewise interleaving Spanish or French with English text would enable me to pick it up. But maybe that’s just me, as I pick up visible words easily and this might not be true of the next Deaf person.

      It stands to reason, however, that words presented in print are not as fleeting as through-the-air language, and in that way is more likely to be absorbed.

      Educators are saying that a child’s first language, once established, forms a bridge to learning a second language. If the first language is sign, and thus through the air, and the second language is English in written form, one needs to think about what this means for literacy.


    • KellyAnn 5:21 pm on January 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I’m learning Spanish in my free time (I should be fluent sometime in 2050!), and with television shows, the lag in the subtitles vs what is spoken enables me to double-check words I’m unsure of when I hear them. For me subtitles can be helpful but are not a magic bullet to learning another language.


      • iheartsubtitles 5:59 pm on January 30, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for commenting. I think this is probably how most people feel with regards to subtitles. I struggle without them regardless of the language, but that is not the case for everyone obviously.


    • Marga Burke 6:44 pm on January 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I’m a translator from French and Italian into English, and I’ve also studied some German and Spanish. In my personal experience, same-language subtitles are definitely helpful in moderation. They also have their disadvantages and I think the points made by English Attack! about confidence, the real world and not needing to understand every single word are very valid.

      To me, what it comes down to is the language learner’s level of comprehension and how easy or difficult it would be for them to understand the video on its own. If they can get the gist of it without subtitles, that’s great for building confidence and improving listening comprehension. And if the video is part of an EFL programme and has been chosen or created to match their level of understanding – stretching them but not totally baffling them – I agree that subtitles wouldn’t be needed for *most* learners and could make it harder for them to gain “real world” language skills.

      On the other hand, what if you want to watch a film that you just can’t follow without a little help? Maybe the dialogue is very fast, or strong accents or dialect are involved, and your second-language skills aren’t up to the job yet. It was in situations like this – with films in my second languages that I was watching for pleasure as well as education, and not as part of a structured course – that I found same-language subtitles really helpful. My reading comprehension would usually be ahead of my listening comprehension anyway, so watching a film with the subtitles on allowed me to enjoy it and helped me improve my knowledge of the language at the same time.

      Regarding point (a), I agree that they are different brain functions and if you’re reading the subtitles, it may well be your reading skills that improve rather than your understanding of the spoken language. That’s why I think it’s best to turn the subtitles off if you can get the gist of the video without them. But there’s a world of difference between trying to read a newspaper and carry on a conversation at the same time, and trying to read text while simultaneously hearing it spoken. In fact, one of my friends has software which reads texts aloud to her because she finds it easiest to concentrate with the information coming at her both visually and aurally (she doesn’t have a visual impairment).

      Of course, I’m writing all this from a hearing perspective and language learners who are deaf or hard of hearing will have different requirements. So while I completely understand English Attack!’s decision not to use subtitles as part of the routine teaching process, I think they should be made available for learners who need them.


      • iheartsubtitles 6:00 pm on January 30, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Some very interesting points. Thanks for commenting. I think that things like dialect can be a problem even when it is from your first language!


    • Marta Ortells 7:44 am on January 29, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Hi! 🙂

      I’m translator from English and French to Spanish and Catalan. I completely agree with Marga’s point of view.
      Same-language subtitles can help to better understanding and then one should “jump without a net” to train a listening ability for real-life situations.

      I remember buying Speak Up magazine (http://www.revistasadomicilio.es/fotos/revistas/detalle/speakup.jpg) monthly 20 years ago because an English subtitled film (videocassette format) came with it. 🙂


    • amy 7:26 pm on January 29, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      interesting. I just reviewed a kids’ Spanish program out of Europe. It has subtitles (English and Spanish) that can be turned on and off. MY son is a 10 year old implant user and I can tell you that he learned Spanish in a few short weeks (basics) because of them. He does NOT pronounce things correct and we had to work on that..but they are key for us in every subject..

      A question for the blogger here.. I am a homeschooler. I have a HUGE pet peeve within the curriculum in the Homeschooling community- CAPTIONS are almost non-existent. (MUS is one math program that is an exception.) But I am reviewing another online curriculum right now and there is almost no captioning. Is there a ‘lobby’ group I can get involved with? My son has other issues -autisticish. And so he got his implant..we concentrated on that.. then we dealt with the other and the pendulum is swinging back. Thanks for any way you can direct me


    • eslteachertim 5:16 pm on April 3, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Excellent post and some fantastic comments… being a teacher of English in China I find myself always recommending to my students to watch English movies with the Chinese subtitles first, then re-watch the movie but with English subtitles… by now the students have become familiar with the film and reading the English is helped by the previous reading in Chinese. Finally, if they’re not too overwhelmed, watch the film with no subtitles. If you want to do this in class you would consider just a 15 min clip of a film so the students can watch it three times there and then, followed by further, related activities.
      It’s also a great lesson if you play a film with no sound and the students have to make their own subtitles to the movie…
      A remarkable blog you’ve got here… thanks


    • lee 5:05 am on September 8, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I agree with Marga. I am trying to learn Italian though I cannot speak or understand spoken language easily though I understand the substance. I prefer watching movies or videos with Italian subtitles so that I can read and understand better and repeat the movie again and again till I get the hang of it. English subtitles donot help much really. In fact it may be useful to have both language titles at the same time. But at the same time one may get used subtitles and pay less attension to the actual audio or video. I watched Italian TV without any subtitles and in few weeks manage to pick up words. But now that I am out of Italy I prefer to see the subtitles and go for the dictionary it I cannot understand.


    • Mike Fabrikant 11:26 pm on November 10, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I designed a website for learning languages with subtitles. It’s basically a subtitle search engine of audio clips and their translations. For the tv and movie content that is used, the translations are often inaccurate and the tenses lost. However, they still serve well as hints to the meaning of what’s spoken to anyone with prior experience in the language. Soon logged in users will have the ability to improve translations. This site is http://www.audioverb.com. Feed back is appreciated. Thanks!


    • Meez 1:50 pm on October 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Hi there! Learning languages with the help of subtitles is a perfect idea!
      You can easily find a huge amount of subtitles at http://subtitlesbank.com


    • Adriana Balseca 5:43 am on September 7, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Hi.My name is Adriana. I’m from Ecuador. I’m a teacher and I’m studying to get my master’s degree. I’m doing my thesis about Closed Caption. Technological application Closed Caption for listening skill. I’d like you to share with me some information related to it or maybe some links where I can do my research. Thanks for your help! 🙂


    • PeterM 2:57 pm on April 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I too have created a website for learning languages from subtitles. http://sublearning.com Essentially its a flash card learning site. I wanted this for myself to learn spanish but thought it might be useful for others too. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated


    • rdalliah 8:04 am on May 4, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Hi. May I get the link for the online article you mentioned please?


  • iheartsubtitles 4:18 pm on January 3, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Education   

    Six subtitled films (via Six Things) 

    Subtitles are generally used to provide accurate translations, but take a look at how the creative use of subtitling films is being used by one English language teacher in an education setting to both inform and entertain. Love it!

    Six subtitled films In addition to writing materials and teaching, some of you may already be familiar with my subtitling work. Around a year or so ago I discovered Overstream, a great site which allows you to add subtitles to any video you want. Of course, there are good pedagogical uses you could put this to. You could also use this medium to create funny little videos about what goes on in English language teaching and the ELT blogosphere. Here then, are my six s … Read More

    via Six Things

  • iheartsubtitles 7:11 pm on November 7, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Education, Museum   

    Subtitles at the museum 

    Last week I went to the Natural History Museum and was pleased to see that although not all, many of the video screens for the exhibits had subtitles available. Great stuff. Here’s an example of a straight audio translation:

    Not only that but some of the screens were using animated text to add a bit of vibrance to the content being discussed. It totally caught my attention and I learned something new in the process. Here’s an example:

    I look forward to sharing any more examples I come across.

  • iheartsubtitles 8:02 pm on November 2, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Education,   

    Karaoke and SLS 

    So how many of you like karaoke? It tends to divide people. I love it so long as you are allowed to sing as badly as you are enthusiastically as that is the only kind I can do.  This in itself is a type of subtitling. If you are someone who enjoys it then The Karaoke Channel Online might be of interest to you. (it is a little bit US artists biased – where are the Take That songs? ahem moving on…) You probably don’t need an example, but here is one anyway:

    But here is what else I’ve discovered – if you needed an excuse to do it – karaoke might actually be educational – refered to as Same Language Subtitling (SLS) – using this subtitling technique has increased literacy rates and is being promoted as an educational tool.  Don’t believe me? Here’s President Clinton talking about it:

    That’s some pretty impressive statistics right? So why isn’t this being used everywhere for educational purposes? I wonder if we will see more use in an educational setting. For more information make sure you visit the website SLS4Reading which contains much more information than I could reproduce here including more examples and research papers on the topic.

    If this isn’t proof that subtitling is not just for deaf and hard of hearing people but for everyone, I don’t know what isn’t.

    Edit: I had totally forgotten about this brilliant comedy sketch that is relevant (sort of) to this post. Thanks to @MsPandora39 for reminding me! You don’t need to know any correct form of sign language to understand this translation for the deaf of Natalie Imbruglia’s ‘Torn’ Enjoy!


    • Laureen Brandner 5:49 am on November 5, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      To begin with ,you have created a very nice theme . I think i might design something similar for a future project that i want to build . In addition ,i honestly enjoy most of the articles and your different point of view. Cheers


    • Greg McCall 3:44 am on December 8, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Always enjoy your blog, thank you for the continued support! Keep on posting the entertaining subtitled videos!


      • iheartsubtitles 10:40 am on December 8, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks Greg. And thank you also for subscribing. I plan to keep this blog as entertaining as I can 🙂 Please spread the word if you think others will enjoy reading it.


  • iheartsubtitles 10:50 pm on September 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Education, , ,   

    It’s all gone Pete Tong (wrong) 

    Yesterday I got upset because some else got upset in a conversation via Twitter in which we discussed how two music shows have been subtitled on UK TV rather poorly recently. The two in question are X Factor (see Ian Noon’s blog) and Later with Jools Holland.  Both shows are not subtitled prior to transmission because of close filming dates to its transmission date which does not allow time for the final edit to be sent to a captioner/subtitler before broadcast. Live subtitling of music for obvious reason can be a bit of a challenge – especially if the person doing it is not familiar with lyrics or is not given the chance to research them beforehand because they are not provided with the information to prepare with.  This is probably why the subtitling can be out of sync, miss words or a combination of both.  But  here’s the thing – both programmes are repeated in the TV schedule – why oh why can we not have a bit of quality control and the live subtitling be reviewed in time for a repeat schedule and/or for the internet broadcast on itv player / BBC iplayer.  Right now on BBC iplayer – listen to the latest episode of Later with Jools Holland in silence, put the subtitles on and you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Scissor Sisters had a song out called ‘Subtitles unavailable for 3 minutes’ except you wouldn’t know what the lyrics are for it:

    Later with Jools Holland - Poor subtitles :(

    I don't feel like subtitling, no sir, no subtitles today

    Now I am an optimist generally speaking but after the depressing conversation about the lack of quality subtitles on the above  music shows I began to wonder how many people might be narrow minded and assume that the only people who use subtitles are people who are hard of hearing or deaf (this is not true) and they won’t have any interest in music (this is definitely not true).  Similarly, and perhaps even worse,  is this the assumption also by broadcasters and  why  it seems as if it is not considered a high priority to review the quality of the subtitling output for music shows in particular?  I admit that I couldn’t help but respond to a tweet recently in which someone asked why was BBC4 ‘bothering’ to subtitle a documetary on Jimi Hendrix. Why on earth not?! I did attempt to educate said person that deaf and hard of hearing people are music lovers too!

    Ironically, whilst this is going on, I’m reading reports that in India subtitling music videos has helped drive an increase in literacy rates:

    India’s public karaoke-for-literacy experiment is the only one of its kind in the world. Technically known as same-language subtitling, or SLS, it manages to reach 200 million viewers across 10 states every week. In the last nine years, functional literacy in areas with SLS access has more than doubled. And the subtitles have acted as a catalyst to quadruple the rate at which completely illiterate adults become proficient readers.

    SOURCE: New York Times

    And it wasn’t always like this on UK TV. My earliest memory of discovering the joy of subtitles was in turning them on for the Thursday night BBC1 broadcast of Top Of The Pops in the 1990s (see The Author ). This was subtitled, and subtitled accurately right down to the #Oooh Ohhhh Ooooh# ‘s of the latest dance tune with albeit limited lyrics (2 Unlimited anyone? Love it!). It meant music was accessible to me in a way it could never be on the radio. It saddens me to think that a teenager now watching chart music on TV may not have the same access as I did. I am always pleased when I turn on 4Music or Viva to discover the video playing has been subtitled – it does seem a bit random but at least it is being done and is also accurate. I applaud this. Also great is to see some music video’s with in vision signing for those that use British Sign Language. If only because it has inspired this next guy Lee, who in turn inspired me (I may share that another time, not right now), to upload BSL music videos to share with the world via You Tube. He makes it look so easy (it’s not) and a heck of a lot of fun (I bet it is). Check out the speed (and accuracy according to the comments) of Black Eyed Peas – I Gotta Feelin’ :

    And yes this video is also accurately subtitled (though you may have to shut down the advert to see them)

    At least people online are currently putting TV to shame – which really is shame because it *is* TV that inspired Lee in the first place (see his comments on his You Tube channel about how he learned to sign). It could still be for many others if TV can be relied upon for greater accuracy and quality subtitling than the poor examples discussed.

    • Page 888 3:06 pm on September 28, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I actually learned the lyrics to songs by watching TV subtitles too, (well that and reading the song words section in Smash Hits). Have you tried watching some television shows on DVD when they don’t subtitle the lyrics to the opening theme of the programme, instead they just put the episode title.


      • iheartsubtitles 10:34 pm on September 30, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Ahh Smash Hits and TV Hits song lyrics sheets – they too were a great resource in the pre-internet days. I feel ancient! Anyway, yes I have noticed DVD subtitles often are not as detailed as UK TV subtitles particularly with regards to music lyrics – this is even more annoying when the music is part of the programme’s story as often the track has been chosen with the lyrics in mind so you are missing part of the message the director wants to you to receive/get.


    • guffin elam insurance 8:55 am on October 3, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Great writing! You may want to follow up on this topic!



  • iheartsubtitles 5:23 pm on March 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Education,   

    Subtitling to learn a language 

    Whilst setting up this blog I have subscribed to various tags to see who else on WordPress is talking about subtitling and captioning. In doing so I was pleased to see that Exit Languages based in Barcelona have seen the benefits subtitling can provide to learning a second language. They pointed me to another online resource for subtitled movies which if you are a pop culture junkie like me will find useful. The site is Subtitled Trailers. Subtitles are available in English, Italian and French. I look forward to finding out what else I can find from tag subscribing 🙂 I have many more resources I have found to add to the links list here also.

    • Greg McCall 8:38 pm on March 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I’m a special education teacher in Hawaii, and very interested in subject of literacy. A few years ago I came across a very simple idea for improving the literacy amongst struggling reader populations. (In reality the majority of USA High School students are ‘struggling readers with Reading below 7th Grade Equivalencies)

      The format is called Same-Language-Subtitling (SLS). SLS is the use of Synchronized Captioning of Musical Lyrics (or any text with an Audio/Video/ source) as a Repeated Reading activity.

      The application has many possibilities in both television and in education.

      This approach to enriching reading is legitimate –Google gave a 25 million dollar grant to the India based study: http://planetread.org/home.php and the OLPC program has a version of program with music pre-loaded on their laptops.

      This format includes not only the viewing and responding to subtitled media but also the opportunity for students to design and create their own surtitled projects. For class activities we use a free program called Karafun (www.karafun.com) My students really love it, it is easy, intuitive, and can use any mp3, jpeg, or even .avi to rapidly make dynamic syllabicated subtitling. My students also use it with poetry and famous speech.

      You can see samples of my student’s karaoke projects at my study web site: http://www.sls4reading.com, just look for SLS samples: Musicals and Other Genres.


      • iheartsubtitles 9:36 pm on March 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Sounds like a great project. I may refer to it in this blog in a later post. Thanks for sharing. 🙂


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