Using subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing as an innovative pedagogical tool in the language class

Keywords: Audiovisual translation, subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing (SDH), integrated skills practice, online learning, listening comprehension, writing production.


The present article describes a didactic proposal based on the use of an audiovisual translation and accessibility mode as a pedagogical tool: subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing (SDH). When students create SDH for a pre-selected clip within a well-structured task, they are enhancing integrated skills, especially in the form of written production (of the subtitles), listening comprehension (of the original), and lexical creativity (through the condensation of the original message in the form of subtitles and the description of paralinguistic elements). A project undertaken with online students to assess the potential benefits of SDH has acted as a preliminary study to back up the didactic proposal presented herein. The main data gathered from this experience offers a reference for future practice and research in this field, since it confirms previous assumptions on the validity of subtitling as a pedagogical tool to improve foreign language learning skills.

Author Biography

Noa Talaván, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, UNED

Profesora Titular de Universidad

Dpto. de Filologías Extranjeras y sus Linguisticas

Facultad de FIlología


Alonso-Pérez, R. & Sánchez-Requena, A. (2018). Teaching Foreign Languages through Audiovisual Translation Resources. Applied Language Learning, 28(2), 1–24.

Borguetti, C. (2011). Intercultural learning through subtitling: The cultural studies approach. In L. Incalcaterra McLoughlin, M. Biscio & M. À. Ní Mhainnín (Eds.), Audiovisual Translation Subtitles and Subtitling. Theory and Practice (pp. 111–137). Bern: Peter Lang.

Buendgens-Kosten, J. (2014). Key concepts in ELT: Authenticity. ELT Journal, 68(4), 457–459. doi: 10.1093/elt/ccu034

Chaume, F. (2018). Is audiovisual translation putting the concept of translation up against the ropes? The Journal of Specialised Translation, 30. Retrieved July 10, 2018 from

Cohen, L., Manion, L. & Morrison, K. (2017). Research Methods in Education. London: Routledge.

Cook, G. (2010). Translation in language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Díaz-Cintas, J. (2018). ‘Subtitling’s a carnival’: New practices in cyberspace. The Journal of Specialised Translation, 30. Retrieved July 23, 2018 from

Díaz Cintas, J. & Remael, A. (2012). Audiovisual Translation: Subtitling. Oxon: Routledge.

Forchini, P. (2012). Movie language revisited. Evidence from multi-dimensional Analysis and Corpora. Bern: Peter Lang.

Gilmore, A. (2007). Authentic materials and authenticity in foreign language learning. Language Teaching, 40, 97–118. doi: 10.1017/S0261444807004144

Ibáñez, A., Jordano, M. & Vermeulen, A. (2015). VISP design and evaluation, a mobile application to practice oral competence. Revista Iberoamericana de Educación a Distancia, 19(1), 63–81.

Ibáñez, A. & Vermeulen, A. (2013). Audio Description as a Tool to Improve Lexical and Phraseological Competence in Foreign Language Learning. In D. Tsagari & G. Floros (Eds.), Translation in language Teaching and Assessment (pp. 41–65). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Ibáñez, A. & Vermeulen, A. (2014). La audiodescripción como técnica aplicada a la enseñanza y aprendizaje de lenguas para promover el desarrollo integrado de competencias. In R. Orozco (Ed.), New Directions in Hispanic Linguistics (pp. 16–34). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Incalcaterra McLoughlin, L. (2009). Inter-semiotic translation in foreign language acquisition: The case of subtitles. In A. Witte, T. Harden & A. Ramos de Oliveira (Eds.), Translation in Second Language Learning and Teaching (pp. 227–244). Bern: Peter Lang.

Incalcaterra McLoughlin, L., Lertola, J. & Talaván, N. (2018). Editorial. In L. Incalcaterra McLoughlin, J. Lertola & N. Talaván (Eds.), Translation and Translanguaging in Multilingual Contexts. Special Issue Audiovisual translation in applied linguistics: Educational perspectives (pp. 1–8). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/ttmc.00001.edi

Lertola, J. (2012). The effect of the subtitling task on vocabulary learning. In A. Pym & D. Orrego-Carmona (Eds.), Translation research projects 4 (pp. 61–70). Tarragona: Universitat Rovira i Virgili.

Nunan, D. (2004). Task-Based Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Pavesi, M. (2015). From the screen to the viewer-learner. Audiovisual input as a context for second language acquisition. In S. Campagna, E. Ochse, V. Pulchini & M. Solly (Eds.), Languaging In and Across Communities: New Voices, New Identities. Studies in Honour of Giuseppina Cortese (pp. 83–104). Bern: Peter Lang.

Sherman, J. (2003). Using authentic video in the language classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1093/elt/cci014

Talaván, N. (2010). Subtitling as a Task and Subtitles as Support: Pedagogical Applications. In J. Díaz-Cintas, A. Matamala & J. Neves (Eds.), New Insights into Audiovisual Translation and Media Accessibility (pp. 285–299). New York, NY: Rodopi.

Talaván, N. (2011). A Quasi-Experimental Research Project on Subtitling and Foreign Language Acquisition. In L. Incalcaterra McLoughlin, M. Biscio & M. Á. Ní Mhainnín (Eds.), Subtitles and Subtitling. Theory and Practice (pp. 197–218). Bern: Peter Lang.

Talaván, N. (2013). La subtitulación en el aprendizaje de lenguas extranjeras. Barcelona: Octaedro.

Talaván, N. & Ávila-Cabrera, J. J. (2015). Audiovisual reception and mall: Adapting technology to real needs. Porta Linguarum, 24, 33–46. Retrieved July 15, 2018 from

Talaván, N., Ávila-Cabrera, J. & Costal, T. (2016). Traducción y accesibilidad audiovisual. Barcelona: Editorial UOC.

Talaván, N., Ibáñez, A. & Bárcena, E. (2017). Exploring collaborative reverse subtitling for the enhancement of written production activities in English as a second language. ReCALL, 29(1), 39–58. doi: 10.1017/S0958344016000197

Talaván, N. & Lertola, J. (2016). Active audiodescription to promote speaking skills in online environments. Sintagma, Revista de Lingüística, 28, 59–74. doi: 10.21001/sintagma.2016.28.04

Talaván, N., Lertola, J. & Costal, T. (2016). iCap: Intralingual Captioning for Writing and Vocabulary Enhancement. Alicante Journal of English Studies, 29, 229–247.

Talaván, N. & Rodríguez-Arancón, P. (2014a). The use of interlingual subtitling to improve listening comprehension skills in advanced EFL students. In B. Garzelli & M. Baldo (Eds.), Subtitling and Intercultural Communication. European Languages and beyond (pp. 273–288). Pisa: InterLinguistica ETS.

Talaván, N. & Rodríguez-Arancón, P. (2014b). The use of reverse subtitling as an online collaborative language learning tool. Interpreter and Translator Trainer, 8(1), 84–101. doi: 10.1080/1750399X.2014.908559

Widdowson, H. G. (1998). Context, Community, and Authentic Language. TESOL Quarterly, 32(4), 705–736. doi: 10.2307/3588001

How to Cite
Talaván, N. (2019). Using subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing as an innovative pedagogical tool in the language class. International Journal of English Studies, 19(1), 21-40.