What is an Audiobook?

Reading With Your Ears

Heard any good books lately? Audiobooks are books that have been read aloud and recorded, and have been around since the 1930s. An audiobook can comprise a full book (unabridged) or sections of a book. They are equally useful for those of us with time on our hands and those that don’t.

Who uses Audiobooks?

Audiobooks are listened to for pleasure. Some folks like to listen as they garden or when doing household chores like laundry, as it relieves the “washday Blues.” Audiobooks are also very handy when going on a long trip, especially for the kids. A book can be enjoyed by the whole family simultaneously. Long distance truck drivers find them very useful and many drivers are “well read.” Audiobooks also make books more accessible to poorly sighted and blind people. Audiobooks are also great for short time frames like driving to the store or waiting for the kids outside school, or when driving to and from work.

Educational Aid

In poor schools, an audiobook can be played to an entire class which means that poor learners don’t have to try and buy hard copies of the book. They are a valuable teaching aid for teaching listening skills and testing comprehension. Some audiobooks are specifically designed to assist second language learners. Audiobooks can help students, including blind students, with their studies. Regular students benefit greatly when they have the textbook in front of them and also listen to it, because it intensifies their concentration. Research has shown that having both increases recall.

 Researched Benefits

There are other benefits apart from improved recall. The benefits are for listeners and learners of all ages. Here is what else the research has found that audiobooks improve:

Reading accuracy (52%)
Reading speed
Vocabulary expansion
Improved fluency
Reading comprehension (76%)
Multi-modal test scores (21%)
Recall (print and audio combined) (40%)
Reading level/age can improve by two grades.
First Language listening skills (85%)

It therefore explains why now 27% of Kindergarten to Year 12 students are auditory learners. Audiobooks are an excellent way of helping learners with learning difficulties to learn at their own pace, and support them when doing homework or reviewing lessons at home, away from the scrutiny of other learners in the classroom. 

Where to find an Audiobook

Gone are the days of audiobooks on cassettes and CDs. Audiobooks are now downloadable and can be used on most electronic devices, including mobile phones. Audiobooks are available to purchase online or to “borrow” from an online audiobook library. Most online bookstores have audiobooks available so go to their websites, type in “audiobook” and follow the prompts. There’s also lots of places that offer free audiobooks.

How to download an audiobook

If you are new to the electronic world, and don’t have a child handy to help you, don’t worry.  It really is quite simple to do. First decide which device you want to download to – a computer, phone, iPad or iPod, for example. The books come in different formats so that they can be downloaded on personal computers and Mac Books, iPhones, and smart phones. Once you have chosen your device, it is simply a matter of going online, downloading the correct format, and paying for it. Follow the prompts to download.

Are you listening?

Once you have discovered the convenience and joy of audiobooks, the next step is to invest in a pair of headphones, now called ear buds or ear phones, for home use, preferably a wireless set.  Then you can set about catching up on reading all those books that you never seem to get around to as well as read the latest and greatest.

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