Audiobooks and Listening for All Readers

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Most educators know that audio books are great for struggling readers. It's true, but listening to reading is actually great for ALL students.

Whether you have students who are struggling, advanced, English Language Learners, right on track, or have special needs; audio books provide fluent, expressively spoken language without the burden of decoding text. Audiobooks also allow students to listen to content 2 grade levels ahead of where they are reading, giving students exposure and access to more complex texts.

State Standards such as CCSS, TEKS, LAFS, VSOL, etc. raise listening to the same level as reading, writing and speaking. This means students of all reading levels need to interpret information read aloud or presented orally. Read this blog post about listening and state standards for more information on how to help your students meet required listening skills.

Try having your struggling or reluctant readers listen to audio books 1-2 grade levels higher than where they are reading. Fiction titles will spark their interest and support a love of listening. Informational or non-fiction titles will introduce them to topics or subjects they may not have previously understood. They will hear vocabulary they might have gotten stuck on in the past. Just listening (without paired text) removes distractions and allows for a different input of the content.

For those students reading on or above grade level, challenge them to listen to more difficult texts, perhaps the audio version of a physical book they struggled with previously. Giving students a chance to get out of their comfort zone and explore new interests or topics might be eye-opening. Because the text is read fluently and in context, the students will understand the new vocabulary and themes quickly.

Ideas and activities to use with audiobooks

English Language Learners need to be exposed to hours and hours of language in order to become fluent speakers and readers. Encourage students to listen to reading at home with their parents, and practice speaking fluently copying the narrator’s tone and phrasing.

Although this post is mainly about independent listening choices for students, teachers should also use audiobooks as a read aloud for their class. Teachers can also have small group guided listening where each group listens to a different title on their level, discusses and responds to it.

The results of this study of promise conducted by WestEd show that students of all reading levels improved their comprehension, vocabulary and motivation to read by listening to reading. The best part of all this is that students love listening to a good story. Tales2go has provided thousands of students of all reading levels with a simple yet engaging approach to listening to reading.

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