A number of experimental studies have demonstrated the incidental acquisition of a foreign language by children and adolescents when watching foreign language television. While such experiments can only establish short-term effects, this article investigates the extent to which children’s foreign language skills benefit from their long-term consumption of media. An empirical study conducted in the Flemish (Dutch-speaking) area of Belgium compared the self-reported use of three English language media by 374 pupils in the last year of primary education with their scores on two oral translation tests: one from Dutch to English and one vice versa. Two general linear model analyses of variance reveal that pupils who frequently watch subtitled English television programs and movies perform significantly better on both tests. Interestingly, the effect of watching subtitled television and movies is stronger with girls than with boys. Furthermore, playing English computer games positively influences the scores on the English–Dutch test.

English, subtitled television, computer games, incidental language acquisition, music
dx.doi.org/10.1080/17439880903561876, hdl.handle.net/1765/22871
ERMeCC - Erasmus Research Centre for Media, Communication and Culture
Learning, Media & Technology (Print)
Department of Media and Communication

Kuppens, A.H. (2009). Incidental foreign language acquisition from media exposure. Learning, Media & Technology (Print), 35(1), 65–85. doi:10.1080/17439880903561876