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This study aims to describe the relationship between subtitles and EFL learners’ bottom-up processing skills in listening. After Grade 12 students at a boarding school were given a placement test, two groups of 40 students were selected for the study. First, participants’ preferences for subtitles were identified through reaction papers. Then, the two groups watched the 10 episodes of a recent American series named “Alcatraz”, one with subtitles in English (SVG) and the other without subtitles (WSG). At the end, both groups were given a test of minimal pairs to observe if they differed significantly in their performances on the test. A two-tailed independent t-test was run. Finally, participants in the WSG were asked to comment on the process of viewing without subtitles. Reaction papers showed that students favored subtitled viewing at first, but the process of watching without subtitles changed their preferences. Results of the independent samples test revealed that there is a relationship between subtitles and bottom-up processing skills. Students in the WSG did significantly better on the test of minimal pairs, which meant improved bottom-up processing skills.

Keywords: subtitles, bottom-up skills, listening, EFL learners

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