One of the most convenient ways to use wasted time in language learning is to listen to a lot of audio material while driving or taking public transportation. The hours spent commuting can easily be used to increase productivity. Why not use that time to learn languages? It might be difficult to give up on the new Ed Sheeran song on the radio, and you might miss out on that car dealership commercial that offers incredible deals and free winter tires, but spending that precious time learning a new language will make a huge difference on how much you learn in any given week. There are a number of different audio sources to choose from, audiobooks being one of our favorites. In this post, we will talk about how to use audiobooks in language learning.
One of the main advantages that audiobooks have over other sources, such as movie audio or music, is that you hear a constant flow of words. As you might have guessed, action scenes and instrumental sections are not very useful in terms of language learning. Another major advantage of audiobooks compared to other audio material is that they are often well-pronounced and articulated. They are recorded by professionals that have a lot of training and proper diction; words are rarely mumbled and slang is hardly ever used. This makes it easier to understand than the way most people talk on the street.
The real challenge with any audio material is staying active and concentrated. If you can keep up with the story, audiobooks can work wonders on your language skills. You don’t need to understand everything; only enough to stay entertained. We recommend learning at least the very basics if you want to use audiobooks to their full potential, because audiobooks are a lot more effective once you reach a certain level. If you are drowning because you don’t understand a single word, your attention will drift away very quickly. The same will happen if you are not enjoying what you are listening to. This is true for everything, but keeping a real active focus on audio-only material is especially difficult. If you’ve listened to audiobooks in English before, you will understand what I mean. If the narrator is boring, your mind goes to more interesting places.
It’s important to choose material that matches your current skill level. But there are couple of things you can do to increase the amount of words you understand. First, it can be helpful to listen to the translation of an audiobook you are already familiar with. Let’s say you are a real die-hard Harry Potter fan; the Potterhead in you already knows this magical story by heart and following along in your new language will be much easier. Another helpful thing you can do is to listen to audiobooks through your phone or tablet; a lot of audiobook apps out there have a speed feature. If you feel like the narration is too fast at first, you can easily slow the audiobook down to a more comfortable pace. This can be very useful when you’re not as confident in your new language. Simply increase the speed as you get better and feel more positive about your skills.
Considering the amount of time most people spend commuting (while driving or otherwise), you could possibly listen to a full audiobook per week. You could listen to as much as 50 audiobooks in the next year! Talk about a huge amount of progress! (Okay, this is just my crazy idealistic vision.) Audiobooks are becoming increasingly popular; you have a wide array of choices! A single audiobook can give you many hours of practice and can even be listened to a few times for increased benefits. So go ahead and find a good audiobook that keeps you entertained! It is an amazing way to include language learning in your busy schedule.
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Fair Use: Image Attribution of Ed_Sheeran_(8507723113).jpg used and modified in this video: By Eva Rinaldi from Sydney, Australia (Ed Sheeran Uploaded by tm) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. All rights to their respective owners. Some images used under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for educational purposes.
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