11 November, 2009
Do you speak English as a second language well, but still have trouble understanding movies with unfamiliar accents, such as Brad Pitt‘s southern accent in Quentin Tarantino‘s Inglourious Basterds? In a new study, published in the open-access journal PLoS ONE, Holger Mitterer (Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics) and James McQueen (MPI and Radboud University Nijmegen) show how you can improve your second-language listening ability by watching the movie with subtitles—as long as these subtitles are in the same language as the film. Subtitles in one’s native language, the default in some European countries, may actually be counter-productive to learning to understand foreign speech.
Mitterer and McQueen show that listeners can tune in to an unfamiliar regional accent in a foreign language. Dutch students showed improvements in their ability to recognise Scottish or Australian English after only 25 minutes of exposure to video material. English subtitling during exposure enhanced this learning effect; Dutch subtitling reduced it.
More information at: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-11/plos-fsi110609.php