Tag Archives: personal barriers

Subtitles

3 maio
Image courtesy of [digidreamgrafix] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of [digidreamgrafix] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Linguists say that it makes a great difference in the learning process of another language to be surrounded by its sound. My father knows that, and when I was eight, he started bothering me with his “you must watch movies without subtitles if you want to truly learn English” speech. As any child this age, I could not argue against my parent, so I felt obliged to find an English movie without subtitles to watch. Today I see this was a terrible idea and I know that there are some points to be considered before putting a beginner student through such a test, especially because a person needs to be ready for this experience, which makes it essential to evaluate personal barriers before testing someone’s skills.

            My first difficulty was choosing the movie. There were many options – none for children – and nobody was there to help me. Of course, I could have asked the librarian to help me, but I would have had to get out of my comfort zone and admit I was lost. In a perfect scenario, I would have had help and guidance to find an interesting movie that I had seen before and therefore knew the plot. Unfortunately, this did not happen and I ended up with the VHS with the pretty pictures in black and white.

            It only took a couple of minutes after the movie started for me to realize I would have a bigger challenge than I initially thought. I was staring in confusion at dramatic gobbledygook and, no matter how hard I tried, understanding was impossible. Added to the fact that I did not have ability to recognize the words I knew from normal speed speech, the lack of accent knowledge completely threw me off.

            I didn’t want my father saying that I had given up so soon, so I went back to the library and chose the same movie with subtitles for the hearing impaired. At that time, I was a slow reader. Consequently, instead of helping me understand the scene, the subtitles only made me stuck. Moreover, I still didn’t have vocabulary to comprehend a complete sentence, which stimulated me to create a game that entertained me for some minutes: find a word that I knew. After I got completely bored by that incomprehensible story, I decided to rely on the context and facial expressions, but that didn’t last long either, and I ended up never finishing that movie.

            Every once in a while I like to remember this story because it shows how much I’ve grown as an English speaker. Nowadays I understand the importance of being ready to have a new experience and I am positive that it is essential to evaluate personal barriers before testing someone’s skills.