Tse, S.K. (2013). Effects of watching television and program subtitles on Hong Kong students' reading performance in English and Chinese [Abstract]. In the 20th Annual Meeting of Society for the Scientific Study of Reading (SSSR 2013). Hong Kong.
Purpose: This study examined the effects of watching television and program subtitles on Hong Kong students' reading performance in Chinese and English. Method: Standardized reading scores in Chinese, the first language, and in English, the second language, were collected from 1,202 Primary 4 students in Hong Kong. The students also completed questionnaires on the amount of time watching television (TV) programs each day, the types of program preferred and if attention was paid to subtitles. Results: Multivariate analyses of variance and regression analyses were used to examine the effects of different kinds of program on reading comprehension in the two languages. There was a closer association between the students' English reading comprehension and the time spent watching English-media TV than between their Chinese reading and the time they spent watching Chinese-media TV. Conclusions: Interpretation of the results was complicated by the fact that the Hong Kong students' mother tongue, Cantonese, differs in terms of syntax and form from Modern Standard Written Chinese (MSC) taught in schools. Students watching TV for a purpose rather than indiscriminately for over three hours per day had higher reading scores. The best readers made better use of the subtitles to aid understanding than students who usually skipped over subtitles. These students had lower levels of reading competence both in Chinese and in English. The implications for parents are discussed.