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. This post is a repeat of a post ran last fall, with updates.


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!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *