The effects of captions on L2 learners’ comprehension of vlogs

Date
2021-06-01
Authors
Aldukhayel, Dukhayel
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University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center
Center for Language & Technology
(co-sponsored by Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning, University of Texas at Austin)
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25
Number/Issue
2
Starting Page
178
Ending Page
191
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Abstract
This study investigated the effects of captions on the listening comprehension of vlogs. A total of 96 EFL learners watched three vlogs under one of three conditions: L2 captions, L1 captions, and no captions. Each group included low-, mid-, and high-level proficiency learners. The vlogs differed in the pictorial support of the audio, with Vlog 1 being highly supported, Vlog 2 being partially supported, and Vlog 3 being slightly supported by pictorial images. After each vlog, the participants took a multiple-choice test measuring their comprehension of details. Afterwards, participants completed a questionnaire about their perception of captions. The findings suggest that the availability of captions may not necessarily lead to better listening comprehension because students, particularly lower proficiency learners, were unable to simultaneously process the multiple modalities (images, audio, and captions) due to their limited capacities of working memory and cognitive load. High-proficiency learners achieved better comprehension than low- and mid-proficiency learners and achieved their best comprehension with L2 captions. A significant increase in comprehension of vlogs caused by high pictorial support was detected, with the inverse relationship also being true. Analysis of the questionnaire indicated that participants consider L2 captions useful. For both L2 and L1 captions, students think that their listening comprehension would decrease without captions. When considering vlogs for L2 listening, language proficiency and pictorial support are better indicators of levels of comprehension. Captions might be beneficial when learners’ proficiency level is high. When visual images are highly supportive for the audio, better comprehension of vlogs is likely.
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Keywords
L2 Listening, Captions, YouTube, Vlog
Citation
Aldukhayel, D. (2021). The effects of captions on L2 learners’ comprehension of vlogs. Language Learning & Technology, 25(2), 178–191. http://hdl.handle.net/10125/73439
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