Using Captions to Strengthen Literacy Skills

One
tool for strengthening literacy skills is to turn on the captions when watching
TV. 
Rowan McVey from Captions
for Literacy
has kindly
agreed to do a guest post giving us more information for how to use captions
effectively.

Using Captions to Strengthen Literacy Skills

A
study was recently published that showed that children who chose to read in
their leisure time did significantly better in school across a broad range of
subjects. The researchers theorized that it was because these children had a
larger vocabulary, helping them recognize more of the words used in their
lessons.

 

That
must have been music to the ears of parents whose kids love to read. But what
about the more reluctant readers? Is there anything parents can do to help them
get the same vocabulary boost?

 

The
good news is, the answer is yes! A growing body of research has shown that
watching captioned videos helps students of all ages recognize and understand
more words when reading. (It also improves a host of other reading skills,
including listening comprehension and oral reading fluency.)

 

So
if you’re the parent of a reluctant reader, make sure the captioning is on when
they watch TV or DVDs. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s free — and it works! To
turn on captioning, look for a CC button on your TV’s remote control. If you
don’t have one, find the Menu button and browse the options to find the one that
turns on captioning. For more help, check out our page on how to turn on
captioning.

 

If
you have more time and energy, find captioned videos online that match up with
the subjects your child is currently studying in school and watch them with
your child. Talk about the new vocabulary words you heard and saw in the video.
They’ll recognize more of the key terms in their lessons at school and also
retain more of the content of the video. Khan Academy and the Described &
Captioned Media Program both provide free video libraries; BrainPOP and Zane
Education have captioned videos available for a small monthly fee.

 

And
if you’re concerned about limiting your child’s screen time, not to worry —
studies have shown that watching as little as a few minutes of captioned
educational videos every few days was enough to have a significant effect on
reading skills. So go ahead and turn on those captions!

 

Bio: Rowan McVey has been a professional IT educator for fourteen years. She has
also pursued a variety of volunteer interests in that time, most recently
becoming the executive director of Captions
for Literacy
.

Thanks,
Rowan!

Gail


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