Passing on a good idea (Post No.6)

Yesterday morning I heard on the radio of an idea that apparently has the backing of Stephen Fry and other great users-of-words. I thought I should pass it on. It is probably of more use to your younger siblings or children, but anyone who is uncertain about recognising words might like to try it.

It is simply this: to turn on the subtitles when watching – or allowing your children to watch – television.

Now, if you can read and hear perfectly well, subtitles can be irritating and distracting: they are always slightly behind the sound of what’s being said, and the software isn’t perfect so sometimes it doesn’t reproduce in words what is being said onscreen. (However, some of the mis-translation can be quite amusing … .)

For those with hearing problems, subtitles are a great boon; that is their intended purpose.

Children often learn without realising they are doing it, however, so the idea behind this new use of subtitles is that they will pick up the written equivalent of some of the words they are hearing. Not a bad idea, especially with the simpler programmes, for early primary years children, as there is not a lot going on at any one time and the words will be simple and repeated quite often.

And as an extension of this: do READ ALOUD to children, and indeed to adults if you and they would enjoy that. It’s good for the reader, especially as (s)he gets to practise interpreting the story with different accents and tones of voice [See post no. 3]; and it’s great for the listener, who can hear the story or news item without having to make the effort to read it. Those learning to read also benefit if they can follow the pages in the book as you read them aloud – especially if there are illustrations.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the Easter weekend; it’s important to have some holiday and relaxation, as well as to keep up your learning, in these difficult times.

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