There’s a good chance you can improve your reading by listening to audiobooks.
From the earliest stages of its evolution, the human species has learned language by listening.
Spoken languages have been around for 60,000 to 100,000 years. By contrast, languages were first written at most about 5,000 years ago. And only in the last 200–300 years have societies started to teach everyone how to read.
Given the close link between language and speech, it’s no surprise that our language processing is closely linked to our hearing. A Georgetown University study showed that music and language are processed by similar areas of the brain. Neuroscientists observe that “the higher-order processes of listening and reading comprehension are intertwined, rather than separate.”
So, ready to give audiobooks a shot?
To make audiobooks effective, you should probably listen with few distractions, as when riding in a car or driving. But you can also listen to an audiobook while reading the book itself.
These days, audiobooks are easy to find:
- The website www.librivox.org has free audio editions of literary classics.
- Your local public library has CD versions of classics, popular fiction, and recent nonfiction, read by professional readers.
- Sites like www.audible.com offer convenient downloads for a monthly subscription.
The audio technique doesn’t work for everybody. But if you haven’t tried it yet, you should. After all, you have 60,000 years of evolution working in your favor.
Listening to audiobooks can be especially helpful for children whose parents speak another language in the home. Also, a professional reader brings out a wide range of emotions; hearing these can help kids better understand a character’s feelings.
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