Karaoke improves reading comprehension of teens with learning disabilities

iStock_000002195794XSmallHigh school students with disabilities who participated in a karaoke-style subtitling intervention scored significantly higher in reading comprehension tests than a control group, reports the Institute of Education Sciences in a recent What Works Clearinghouse report.

Teachers in the Hawaiian study used same-language-subtitling (SLS) to encourage reading and increase student reading proficiency over a 12-week period. Teens engaged in SLS viewing/response activities for 5-20 minutes per day at the beginning of class. While viewing music videos they completed cloze-style worksheets and responded to comprehension questions.

During the last 6 weeks of the intervention, they also spent a minimum of 90 minutes per week producing subtitled multi-media files. A sample of 198 students with learning disabilities was randomly assigned to SLS classrooms and the remaining students were assigned to control classrooms. The students in the sample had reading levels ranging between a 2.2-9.4 Grade Equivalency.

To create subtitled videos, students used Karafun, a free karaoke production program, along with Microsoft Word and PowerPoint.  SLS is the practice of using videos with a format similar to karaoke where students are able to hear the words being spoken or sung as they read them in subtitling. SLS uses music, poetry, audio-books or even famous speeches.

Developed by Dr. Brig Kothari, the president of PlanetRead, a non-profit organization dedicated to reading and literacy developed, same-language-subtitling was originally used with Bollywood film songs on TV to promote literacy in India. The study met WWC evidence standards “without reservations.” The strength of this study, according to WWC, is that it is a well-implemented randomized controlled trial.

WWC Review of the Report “Same-Language-Subtitling (SLS): Using Subtitled Music Video for Reading Growth”, Institute of Education Sciences, What Works Clearinghouse, January 2013.

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