"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Elementary Primer Gets a Modern Technological Makeover? At least it does in India.

When our oldest son was diagnosed hearing impaired in the early 90's, my husband and I were excited when the closed caption option was embedded directly into the television and we did not have to rely on an external "black box" for this function. We began using the captioning feature all the time and very rarely do we even turn it off today, even though our son is away at college.

We used the closed captioning in hopes it would "fill in the blank" for those words he could not access auditorially. The educators also thought it would help reinforce written language as it relates to sentence structure. I believe it helped not only our hearing impaired son, but also our younger son. He was raised watching all television programs with the caption on and he became a prodigious reader at an early age. I believed (although I had no proof) one reason he did read so early was the connection of oral language to written language, and it made reading comprehension that much quicker.

I might have been onto something with thinking the captioning helped reading skills. Here is a piece from "Planet Read":

Same Language Subtitling (SLS) is simply the idea of subtitling the lyrics of existing film songs (or music videos) on TV, in the ‘same’ language that they are sung in. Call it Karaoke on Bollywood for mass reading! A deceptively simple innovation, SLS is already delivering regular and inescapable reading practice to 150 million weak-readers in India. “One of the most cost-effective ideas... Such subtitles could be used worldwide to increase literacy and cost almost nothing.” – The New York Times

Check out on the site the speech from Bill Clinton as he gives out the award for the "Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2009". He stated, "Same Language Subtitling doubles the number of functional readers among primary school children". This type of captioning is more advanced than the captioning currently available for regular programming; this educational captioning is highlighted in real time with the spoken word.

This is a common sense approach that parents could use as their children watch television or dvds. Just think of it. It is as the New York Times states: “One of the most cost-effective ideas... Such subtitles could be used worldwide to increase literacy and cost almost nothing.”

It's heartening this group is receiving recognition for providing a service that is cost effective and educationally proven to increase literacy. Try using captioning at home if you have pre-reading children or those struggling with reading. Just keep an eye on the captions when cities such as "Pascagoula" are introduced into the conversation! Sometimes even captioners need spelling tests!


  1. It's brilliant isn't it? I am surprised it is not more widely known. I wrote about it on my blog also if you are interested here: http://iheartsubtitles.wordpress.com/2010/11/02/karaoke-sls/

  2. The hard part is getting it in place and used in the United States. Simply adding the SLS format subtitling to music video in U.S. is likely to have a more significant impact on reading rates than all of 'No Child Left Behind' and all the money wasted on education reform. Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey want to get excited about "Waiting for Superman" --when they could put their influence behind something that really works.

    See www.sls4reading.com
    or search Same-Language-Subtitling on Facebook and/or Youtube for more information.


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