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Talaván Zanón, Noa (2013). La subtitulación en el aprendizaje de lenguas extranjeras.

Barcelona: Octaedro, pp. 176, €17,5. ISBN 978-84-9921-365-1.

The integration of Audiovisual Translation (AVT) in language teaching and learning is attracting considerable interest among researchers and academics. Subtitles, both intralingual and interlingual, have been used extensively and have been proven to benefit language learners in many ways. Whilst subtitling - the creation of subtitles by language learners - has recently come to be considered as an effective pedagogical tool. This text is therefore very welcome as it is the first book entirely devoted to the use of subtitling in language learning. It is worth noting that this work received the 2011 Research Award from the 'Sociedad Española de Didáctica de la Lengua y la Literatura' for the quality of the research and the significant contribution to language learning.

The book is divided into two parts. The first presents the theoretical framework of the subtitling practice (chapters 1 and 2). The second focuses on AVT and subtitling in language teaching and learning (from chapter 3 to chapter 6). The individual chapters cover the influence of AVT modes on language learning, the pedagogical potential of subtitling, practical proposals for subtitling tasks and future trends with regard to the use of AVT as a pedagogical resource.

Chapter 1 clearly sets out the theoretical foundations of subtitling in language learning. The author offers a brief description of the approaches and methods behind this innovative teaching methodology. Within the post-method era, Communicative Language Teaching is integrated with Task-based Learning in line with the general guidelines offered by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. In this context, according to the author, subtitling allows learners to play an active role in a communicative environment by performing a practical task with a clear goal and an ultimate result: the subtitled video clip.

Chapter 2 discusses the role of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and that of the video in language teaching and learning. The video provides learners with the opportunity to experience real contexts of language use in communicative situations. The fusion of video and ICT is considered to have great potential for language learning. Multimedia technology creates a flexible learning environment that fosters learners' autonomy while exposing them to linguistic and cultural elements through sounds and images. The author also presents effective strategies for using the video in the classroom together with an evaluation of the advantages and limitations of this instrument.

Having discussed AVT modes, dubbing and subtitling in particular, in Chapter 3 the author analyses the relationship between Europeans' language proficiency with regard to foreign languages and the AVT mode adopted in each country. A recent study conducted within the EU suggests that in countries with a tradition of subtitling, knowledge of foreign languages – and of English in particular – is close to that of the population’s mother tongue. Although the focus in this book is on active subtitling rather than the consumption of subtitles, it is relevant to mention the positive effects of subtitles on language acquisition. Bearing all of this is mind, it follows that subtitling tasks can greatly benefit language learners.  

Chapter 4 deals with subtitling norms and subtitling software suitable for language teaching and learning. As well as comparing different freeware software, the author includes, in the appendixes, very useful step-by-step guides on how to use subtitling and video editing software. The chapter concludes with a presentation of the advantages and limitations of subtitling as a pedagogical tool. Due to its nature as an AVT task, the main advantages of subtitling are those which relate to translation. There are, however, a number of other benefits to be considered along with some more practical limitations. These reflections clearly derive from the author’s extensive first-hand experience in the field.

The author then presents the results of a comprehensive overview of the state of the art developments in the field of subtitling as a pedagogical tool. Chapter 5 also features practical proposals for subtitling tasks         — standard, bimodal and reversed subtitling — to improve oral comprehension and writing skills. The tasks are accompanied by useful guidelines and, though designed for learners of English, are highly adaptable to a variety of languages. The book concludes with a final chapter which provides an overview of current projects that promote the pedagogical use of subtitling and future trends in AVT, dubbing and audio description in particular, in language teaching and learning.  

La subtitulación en el aprendizaje de lenguas extranjeras provides an invaluable contribution to the debate on the integration of AVT in language learning. It also has the potential to engage researchers interested in the field as well as language teachers. The book provides the readers with both theoretical and practical knowledge for using subtitling in the language classroom.

Jennifer Lertola
National University of Ireland, Galway
jennifer.lertola@gmail.com