How can watching TV possibly improve literacy skills? We are not advocating watching TV and we believe that watching TV is damaging, especially to children under 2 years of age. However, in very specific instances, it can, but only if you turn on the closed captioning or CC feature. Closed captioning displays the audio portion of a television program as text on the television screen. And according to the FCC, "Closed captioning provides a critical link to news, entertainment, and information for individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. For individuals whose native language is not English, English language captions improve comprehension and fluency. Captions also help improve literacy skills."
According to The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, CC can be very effective as a reading tutor. On page 170 of his book, he recounts the story as told to him by a first-grade teacher about a young girl entering her class in the beginning of the school year:
"On the first day of school, she was already reading on a third-grade level. That's always unusual, but what made it more so was that her parents were both deaf. Normally, the hearing child of deaf parents is language deficient and therefore behind--but this child was three years ahead. I could hardly wait to conference with the parents. They beamed when I told them of their daughter's achievement and they explained that she'd had closed-captioning all her life."
If your child is hearing impaired, when watching TV, turn on the closed-captioning and let them benefit from a free service that can help them learn how to read. For those who are learning English, the captions can aid in improving reading comprehension.