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Based on cognitive load theory this study investigated the effect of simultaneous written presentations on comprehension of spoken English as a foreign language. Learners` language comprehension was compared while they used 3 instructional formats: listening with auditory materials only, listening with a full, written script, and listening with simultaneous subtitled text. Listening with the presence of a script and subtitles led to better understanding of the scripted and subtitled passage but poorer performance on a subsequent auditory passage than listening with the auditory materials only. These findings indicated that where the intention was learning to listen, the use of a full script or subtitles had detrimental effects on the construction and automation of listening comprehension schemas.