Reading without realising

This isn’t really a blogpost, more a thought which is too long for a tweet.

No1 (who turned 7 today!) is sitting downstairs with us indulging his latest obsession: Masterchef. Whether he is really going to become a celebrity restaurateur, start bringing us breakfast in bed, or is just enjoying a sneaky chance to have some grown-up time with us, I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter anyway.

He’s sitting slightly too close, and he’s listening intently while reading the subtitles. Yes, subtitles. We got into the habit when he was a colicky wakeful baby of watching TV in the evening with the sound switched off and subtitles on, so as not to rouse him on the rare occasions he actually dropped off.

Like all lazy habits, it’s lived on without us really noting long after the need was gone but recently the subtitles are more of a deliberate thing.

My uncle has lived in Norway for 40 years, and is adamant that his family and friends there speak (or at least understand) such good English because a lot of the programmes on TV are in the original language with Norwegian subtitles.

It’s got me wondering about subtitles and reading, and whether seeing words written as they hear them spoken will help children make sense of this crazy language of ours. Not as a substitute for learning, or practicing, or reading together properly, of course, but just as an easy, can’t-do-any-harm, additional part of the whole process.

It also means I know what’s going on while they’re chattering over whatever I’m watching, which really can’t be a bad thing…


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