Friday, April 26, 2013

My Son's Great Idea is Changing Our Home: Using Closed Captions to Teach Language Skills in Kids


The other day we stumbled on the closed caption button on our television service (check out the menu items on your cable remote, look for icons on computer links, or contact your television service company to find out how to enable).  Now my 7 year old constantly wants the words on the TV program as we are watching. He has always struggled more with language than spatial skills, and he is still working on basic reading abilities.  He also is in the autistic spectrum, and when he has had interventions for that, they have worked on the "hidden meanings" behind our actual words (e.g., sarcasm, idioms, emotions behind words). I thought WOW, I can so understand why he wants to see the words with the visual (e.g., facial expressions, other people's reactions etc) and auditory input (e.g., hearing the words pronounced and combining that with the visual letters of the words on screen).  

In our house, this was my son's great idea.  However, perhaps all great ideas have been had before!  In searching for more resources on using closed captioning in education I found these ideas.  

An article listed under teacher resources at this link: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
How can you take best advantage of closed captioning in your classroom? Here is our Top Ten list:

  1. Improve reading vocabulary for early and struggling readers who have a larger speaking than reading vocabulary. Mute the volume and enable closed captioning.
  2. Enable closed captioning on a content video. Have students write down key vocabulary words and then discuss their definitions. Develop a Video Vocabulary Notebook for each content area.
  3. Mute the volume and challenge all readers to improve their speed and fluency by reading the captions. Then, assess students’ content comprehension.
  4. Select a segment from a content-rich program that fits a current area of study. Mute the volume and ask students to write captions describing the action taking place in the program. Enable closed captioning, then replay the segment and have students compare their captions with the closed captions.
  5. If your video source includes foreign language closed captions, use them to help students read along in the foreign language while listening in English.
  6. Select a foreign language content video with foreign language captioning to help students connect the spoken language with the written words.
  7. For ESL students, enable the English closed captioning so students can connect the written form of the language with the verbal form to promote expression, verbal phrasing, and pronunciation.
  8. Select a film based on a piece of children’s literature (e.g. Castles by David Macaulay, The Snowy Dayby Ezra Jack Keats, or Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson) and have students compare the printed text with the closed captioning, note how the language was modified to fit the medium, and assess its effectiveness.
  9. Select a content video and have students list the important parts of speech that influence the story. For example, making a list of adjectives that describe the main character, or looking for connections to character and plot development.
  10. Select a short video and have students enhance their listening skills by write real-time closed captions. Provide assistance as needed by using the “pause” control on your VCR.


I love how they reference "VCR"--the article must be a little old.  The way we use closed captions in our house is to leave the sound and the captions on.  That way, there is a connection between the spoken words and the written word.  Sometimes, my son will say, "Oh, that's how you spell..." and he is starting to put together auditory and graphic information.  He is also seeing how the written words are "played out" in the scene complete with emotions, sarcasm, "sayings" and other "meanings" not in the actual text.  

How do you like to teach language arts to your kids?  In your classroom?