Listening comprehension is often the hardest skill for language learners. While speaking, reading and writing are generally fine, listening can still cause problems. What more, it can be argued that it’s the most important. How else do you learn your maternal language if not through listening?
Numerous studies have shown that when we communicate we spend 9% of the time writing, 16% reading, 30% speaking and between 40-50% listening. This blog post on Fluent U explores the importance of listening in learning a language.
The British Council share some essential strategies for English languages learners. In this post, they suggest that the most important skill is predicting content. What is the speaker going to say next?
There are many ways in which to improve your listening skills when you don’t have access to native speakers. These include podcasts, television and radio. Another resource that has become increasingly popular in recent years is audiobooks.
Advantages of Audiobooks
There are a number of benefits of listening to audiobooks for language learners. They include:
- Access to native speakers.
- Learn the manner of speaking.
- Get continuous dialogue.
- Hear good articulation and pronunciation.
- Listen to intonation.
- Can access them any time anywhere.
- Find free resources online.
Commonly you are not in the country where your target language is being spoken. You can overcome this problem with audiobooks as they give you exposure to native speakers and various accents. They also allow you to become accustomed to longer dialogue. In addition, narrators tend to pronounce and articulate words, which is very important for language learners. Remember you don’t have to understand every word or sentence to follow the story. This is not the goal of the exercise. Even in your own language, you don’t always understand every word. However, you still understand the message which has been transmitted and in which manner it’s been said.
Audiobooks are an ideal option for those with little free time as you can listen almost anywhere. We’ve all wasted hours such as when commuting or driving. Why not use these times to improve your listening skills?
See blog post: 20 Opportunities to Listen to Audiobooks
Where to Start?
Start by thinking about your current level in your target language and your interests. The audiobooks you choose should depend on these two things.
It is often suggested that audiobooks are better for higher level learners. However, lower level learners should not be discouraged. You can consider children’s books or a book that you are already familiar with to make it easier. Remember that just having exposure to continuous dialogue from a native speaker will really help you.
The key to success for learning through audiobooks is choosing something that interests you. This can be applied to almost every part of your life. It will help you to focus and keep your attention for longer.
Top 10 Tips for Language Learners Using Audiobooks
To help you succeed in using audiobooks we have put together this list of things to keep in mind:
- Listen for the gist.
- Don’t expect to understand everything.
- Listen for repetition.
- Fill in the blanks with context.
- Try to find a narrator that you like and are comfortable with.
- Pick books that you’ll find interesting.
- Choose a book that you’re familiar with.
- Try not to translate.
- Try to think in your target language.
- Don’t give up! Remember the more you listen, the easier it becomes!
Where to Find Audiobooks?
A quick Internet search for ‘free audiobooks’ will return various sites where you can download or stream free public domain audiobooks. Along with Digitalbook, other popular sites include Librivox, Project Gutenberg and Open Library.
For subscription services you can try the following:
Spotify – You may associate this service with just music. However, a search for ‘audiobooks’ in their search box will produce some good results.
ITunes – Since Apple upgraded it’s iBooks app, browsing and buying audiobooks through the iStore has become a lot easier.
Listen online or download thousands of free classic audiobooks at digitalbook.io.