Reaching English Speakers Globally with Same Language Subtitling

This guest post is by Michael Novak, CEO of Tertia , and member of the dotSUB Board of Advisors. Tertia deploys enhanced SLS media worldwide for the music, video, and publishing industries.

Subtitling videos to reach a global audience is an efficient and effective way to communicate in a way that entertains, inspires, and informs. However, there is another way of using subtitling, in particular for videos with English audio, that brings some additional benefits: Same Language Subtitling (SLS).

Uniqueness of English media

Right now there are two billion people worldwide studying English, or who speak English as a second language (ESL). Interest in English media is driven by a desire to:

  • get a good grade in an (often required) English class
  • get a better (and higher paying) job.
  • communicate internationally
  • study internationally

Watch this video from TED, where Jay Walker explains this desire, this drive:

For a deep analysis of the English as a second language in the developing countries see also the paper “Dreams and Realities: Developing Countries and the English Language” (pdf).

Same Language Subtitling

SLS is subtitling in the same language as the audio portion of a video, with each word highlighted as the words are spoken or sung, in a karaoke style. This karaoke highlighting draws the eyes of the audience to the subtitle more than conventional methods.

SLS has been shown to double literacy rates in India among primary school children through its use on a variety of Indian television programs!

Adoption for the English as a second language audience

English language learning alone often means that individuals stop relating to English media once basic skills are learned. For the global ESL audience, the use of SLS English videos gives a significantly increased comprehension. This means that the ESL speaker has additional reasons to access English media beyond the first step of acquiring basic language proficiency, whether it be for entertainment, information, or access to educational media in other subject matters.

SLS English media has several advantages:

  • Widest audience: The population of 2 billion ESL speakers exceeds the audience of any other language.
  • Affluent audience: In non-native English-speaking countries, ESL speakers tend to be the most affluent.
  • First stage to other languages translation: Captioning of English videos is a necessary first step to translation into other languages.

And also some disadvantages:

  • Higher manual effort to subtitle: If done manually, the generation of timing information for each word spoken takes 10-20 times more time than just generating subtitles for each caption.
  • A distraction for native English speakers: Because the animated nature of SLS English media, native speakers tend to watch the subtitles as well, thus diverting their attention from the video component. So the same feature that is helpful to the ESL audience tends to be a distraction for the native English speaker.
  • Reduced emotional impact: Even for those who understand the video with SLS English, it lacks the emotional punch of the subtitles in their native language. So for media where emotional messaging is a necessary component, the native translations will have be more impact.

SLS English media reaches the widest audience of affluent consumers worldwide, and dotSUB has the modern technologies that make SLS easy to implement.поддержка сайта цены украинапродвижение сайта юридической компаниипоиск телефона по imei через спутник онлайн

  • H Mccoll

    Interesting! I’d like to add the additional advantage of SLS for deaf people (like myself) in English speaking communities as well as worldwide. People in English speaking communities who are severely deaf and never hear the spoken language, so they often have much more of a struggle to become literate in their own language. SLS has the potential to help with this. Incidentally, I very much appreciate the addition of subtitling and transcripts in general because they give me access to the TED world of ideas that would otherwise be closed to me. Thank you TED!

    The benefits of SLS listed by Jay Walker would apply to other languages; both in providing access to their own spoken language for deaf people who use languages other than English and for learners of those languages. Native English speakers are notorious for their reluctance to learn other languages, and interesting resources for learning are often sadly lacking. TED’s subtitled and transcripted talks have potential to give an enormous boost to stimulating language learning resources world wide. SLS would add a further tool for learning. Regarding distraction for native English speakers: subtitle and transcripts themselves are ‘optional extras’, so perhaps SLS could be an optional feature as well. I would make a plea for basic subtitles to be added to a video as soon as possible, and for SLS to be added as an additional feature when it its ready.

  • Greg McCall

    Sorry you missed the boat on your disadvantage list — 30-40% of U.S. High School Students read below the 5th-6th grade levels — Our students spend an incredible amount of time on music video/TV and they could benefit from SLS!  

    Studies have shown that SLS is just as effective for native English speakers!

    DotSub’s  disadvantage “A distraction for native English speakers: Because the animated nature of SLS English media, native speakers tend to watch the subtitles as well, thus diverting their attention from the video component. So the same feature that is helpful to the ESL audience tends to be a distraction for the native English speaker.” 

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