Intentional vocabulary learning from watching DVDs with subtitles: A case study of an ‘average’ learner of French

2014 IJRSLL – Volume 3 Issue 1


Garnier, Mélodie*
University of Nottingham, United-Kingdom (


Watching films with subtitles is a popular activity among language learners, but little research has sought to thoroughly examine its potential impact on vocabulary uptake and retention. In particular, there is a lack of longitudinal studies involving intentional rather than incidental learning. This paper seeks to address this gap by investigating the vocabulary gains of a post-beginner learner of French from watching the same film once a week for two months in the reversed subtitling condition (L1 audio and L2 subtitles). The results are encouraging in that the participant continually learned new words after each viewing, while retaining all the words learned in previous weeks. However the very poor uptake rate per hour after the first two viewings suggests that such an activity is not worthwhile beyond a few hours spent on watching the same film. The relationship between repetition and word acquisition/retention was not straightforward, and was probably overshadowed by word-based (e.g. word class) and affective (e.g. motivation) factors. Nevertheless, if learners enjoy watching subtitled films anyway, enough vocabulary acquisition accrues from one or two viewings to recommend this activity as a useful supplement to formal instruction.

Keywords: vocabulary acquisition; intentional learning; watching films/movies with subtitles



*Corresponding Author