How ESL Learners Can Benefit From Captioning

By: Sarah Roberts
Young woman with her hair in two buns smiling

Captioned videos are beneficial to a multitude of people for a variety of reasons. Captioning makes video more accessible to students with disabilities and different learning styles. It also keeps students engaged and can improve retention and literacy. Another group that can really benefit from captioning is those who are learning English as a Second Language (ESL Learners).

There are a few problems ESL learners struggle with that captioning can help solve. First are the different accents that can make English harder to understand in some cases. Captioning improves comprehension of strong accents. Similarly, captioning can help if the speaker is not talking clearly, is talking too fast, or is using slang and abbreviations or jargon. Another aspect of language ESL learners have trouble with is syntax, or the order words are spoken, which often differs depending on the language.

Points Where Captioning Can Help ESL Learners

  • Information Retention
  • Improved Literacy
  • Accents
  • Fast or Unclear Speech
  • Slang / Abbreviations / Jargon
  • Syntax / Sentence Structure
  • Grammar / Spelling

When the viewer can read the text being spoken, it can help them learn and better understand the structure of sentences. Watching a video in a language that is not familiar enough can be frustrating, but captioning provides a backup that can help encourage and engage the viewers. Lastly, learners who are more practiced in spoken language than written can improve literacy skills, grammar and spelling.