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November 20, 2018

Test English Comprehension with YouTube Captions

One of the common questions I have been asked is, "What can I do to understand American accent better?" 

If you are learning American English as a second language (ESL), I advise learners to either listen to American radio stations online or find YouTube videos or podcasts of people having a normal conversation. This means it should be unscripted conversation, not Hollywood movies or TV shows. Now a days, YouTube makes this even easier with the addition of captions.
 

Tutorial on How to See Captions on YouTube

Do not jump to the use of captions immediately. First listen to a few minutes of a clip without the captions. Write down how much you think you understood. Was it 50%, 80% or 40%? Then listen to the same clip again after turning on the captions. How much did you actually understand? Did you understand more or less than you originally thought? 

Well, if you do not know how to turn on the captions on, let me walk you through the process of turning on the captions while using YouTube on your laptop, desktop or mobile (cell phone). 

Steps in Turning on Captions on Mobile Using the iPhone YouTube App
This tutorial follows the steps using the YouTube mobile app on the iPhone. Let's see how to do it.

Step 1: Get Caption Option on Mobile/Cell Phone
To get the option for captions, place your finger anywhere on your cell phone screen over the video. At this time, the screen over the video will turn black, with options in white. Three dots will appear on the top right (I circled it in green). Tap on these dots for the options.

View Video Captions on iPhone YouTube App

Step 2: Select Option for Captions
After selecting the three dots on the top right of the mobile screen, the options below will pop up. Select the "captions" option highlighted in green below.

Reading English Captions on YouTube Videos


Step 3: Select the English Option
Look at the bottom of the cell phone screen and tap on the option for English as highlighted in the green box below.

View English Subtitles on YouTube Videos

Step 4: Read Video Captions on Your Device
Hopefully regardless of using an iPhone, Android or any other smartphone, the captions should start displaying at the bottom of the video as in the image below.

Read English Captions on YouTube Videos on Your Phone

Now that we have talked about how to view captions on the YouTube App on the cell phone, let's see how to do the same thing on a desktop or laptop. 

Steps on Viewing English Captions on YouTube Videos on a Normal Browser
The Chrome browser was used to create this tutorial. 

Step 1: Get Caption Option on Desktop/Laptop
After starting to watch the YouTube video on your Internet browser, mouseover the video so that the screen turns black. Many options in white font will pop up. Choose the three dots circled in green on the top right to find the options for captions.




Step 2: Select Option for Captions

After pressing on the three dots on the top right of the video, the options below will pop up. Select the option outlined in green. 



Step 3: Select the English Option



 Step 4: Read Video Captions on Your Device
 Success! Now it is possible to read the captions on your laptop internet browser.

What's the difference between captions and subtitles? 
The two words captions and subtitles are easily confused. While both are words on the bottom of the screen, captions are printed words that are being spoken on the screen in the same language. Subtitles, however, are translations of the dialogue on the screen into another language. So, if there are English words on the bottom of the screen and the dialogue is in French, the English words are subtitles. If the movie is in French, and the words in the bottom are in French, then those words are captions. For the purposes of this post, we are talking about captions and not subtitles. 

The video featured in the images above is an interview hosted by Job Valluthamannunkal of JMaxx Media. In the video, Job casually interviews the Managing Director of Authentic Journeys (the blog you are reading now). Watch the video below.  

The author of this post, Jennifer Kumar, is the Managing Director of Authentic Journeys based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Jennifer has more than 10 years living and working between the US and India. Her expertise lies in helping global professionals working between the US and India bridge the culture gap on virtual teams. Get in touch with us to learn more abut Working with India or Working with the US cross-culture training programs.

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Authentic Journeys: Bridging Culture on Virtual Teams

We help build effective, culturally competent global teams with focus on the cultures of the USA and India. Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director, an American citizen, has almost 10 years experience living, studying and working (owning a business) in India. Authentic Journeys Consultancy is registered as a Private Limited in India (Kerala) and an LLC in the USA (Utah). We provide onsite and live-online instructor-led courses, facilitation and corporate coaching.