An experimental research project on teaching reading through subtitled film songs was taken up as the first initiative of the Reading Association of India in collaboration with the World Literacy of Canada in September 2011. The project was supported by the International Reading Association as a fellowship to Dr.S. Y. Shah, President of the Reading Association of India. The duration of the project was six months.

The research project made use of the Same Language Subtitling (SLS) - an innovative method developed by Professor Brij Kothari of Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad and widely recognized as an effective technique of promoting reading. Unlike the original method which focused on promoting reading, in this project, the focus was more on teaching pronunciation and also motivating learners to attend the classes regularly.

The project was implemented in two urban slums of Varanasi - a backward district in Eastern India. The sample comprised of 40 selected students of grade two of non formal education centers and an equal number of adult learners of literacy centers. For the purpose of research, the sample was divided into four groups comprising of two groups of 20 adult learners and two groups of 20 children. The sample was selected from a village population comprising of more or less same socio economic status. While one group of adult learners and children were treated as controlled group and taught in a traditional manner, the other group of adults and children were designated as
experimental and taught using film songs with subtitles. In a session of two contact hours, the first half an hour was devoted to screening the three selected Hindi film songs with same language subtitles. The songs were played thrice. While the learners listened to songs in the first round, during the second and third rounds they joined in singing. Three common words selected from the film songs by the learners were then drilled further by the teacher with the help of replaying the video with a view to teaching their correct pronunciation. Since the learners had the freedom to select the words, it gave them a sense of involvement in the learning process. The meanings of the words were also
taught. The screening of the popular Hindi film songs created a recreational and relaxed atmosphere in the class and motivated the learners to attend the classes regularly and in the process learn the correct pronunciation of words with ease. In this action research project, the experimental group recorded 95% attendance compared to 40% in the controlled group. While 90% of learners in the experimental group could pronounce all the 180 selected words correctly, in the controlled group only 35% succeeded in the pronunciation test. As against 80% who succeeded in giving the correct meanings of the selected words in the experimental group, only 30% could succeed in the controlled group. There was only a marginal difference between the performance level of children and adults.

Since the film songs with subtitles are telecast by the national television in several languages in India and can be freely used for educational purposes, this experiment can be replicated as a low cost or probably no cost innovation for motivating learners to attend classes regularly and learn correct pronunciation which to a great extent may aid in facilitating reading. The only cost being for the purchase of a television set, DVD player and CDs which may be already available in some schools.

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