ReCALL: Journal of Eurocall vol:26 issue:1 pages:21-43
The aim of this study was twofold: we investigated (a) the effect of two types of captioned video (i.e., on-screen text in the same language as the video) on listening comprehension; (b) L2 learners’ perception of the usefulness of captions while watching L2 video. The participants, 226 university-level students from a Flemish university, watched three short French clips in one of three conditions: the control group watched the clips without captions (N = 70), the second group had fully captioned clips (N = 81), the third group had keyword captioned clips (N = 75). After each clip, all participants took a listening comprehension test, which consisted of global and detailed questions. To answer the detailed questions, participants had access to an audio passage of the corresponding clip. At the end of the experiment, participants completed a questionnaire and open-ended survey questions about their perception of captions. Our findings revealed that the full captioning group outperformed both the no captioning and the keyword captioning group on the global comprehension questions. However, no difference was found between the keyword captioning and the no captioning group. Results of the detailed comprehension questions (with audio) revealed no differences between the three conditions. A content-analysis approach to the questionnaire indicated that learners’ perceived need for full captions is strong. Participants consider captions useful for speech decoding and meaning-making processes. Surprisingly, keyword captions were considered highly distracting. These findings suggest that full rather than keyword captioning should be considered when proposing video-based listening comprehension activities to L2 learners.