Do same language subtitles help children learn to read?

Project: Research

Project Details


This project investigates whether having subtitles turned on for children’s television programmes helps children learn to read.

Practice is crucial to building reading fluency. However, less than a third of children engage in daily reading outside of class and nearly 10% of disadvantaged children don’t own a book. A campaign called ‘Turn on the Subtitles’ argues that same language subtitles should be turned on by default for children’s TV programming as a way of providing increased reading experience.

The research team is conducting two experiments to establish the efficacy of subtitles in supporting reading acquisition.

1) The first experiment uses eye-tracking to investigate children's eye-movement behaviour in the videos with and without same-language subtitles, the influence of subtitles on comprehension, and how this varies by reading proficiency and school years.

2) The second experiment tests the hypothesis that subtitles improve reading skills, and whether the benefits are larger for children with lower reading experience. A group of children will be recruited for a six-week intervention, half of whom will be allocated to a subtitle group, and the other half will watch television as they normally do. Children’s reading performance will be assessed before and after the intervention to test the effects of longer-term exposure to subtitles on reading skills.
Effective start/end date4/01/2331/12/25


  • reading development
  • same-language subtitles
  • eye-tracking