Saturday, August 6, 2016

Developing Reading Proficiency with Audiobooks

If you're like most Americans, you're not very good at reading things and fully understanding them. You might not even notice it, but you're probably missing out on the little details even if you're getting the jist of something. Everyone can improve their reading comprehension. Most people just haven't had enough practice. This is an efficient way to get that practice and become better at reading in a short amount of time.

Here's how to fix that (this post assumes you do not have dyslexia or another learning disability. If you do, or think you do, get professional help):

1.Find a print book and an audiobook version of the same book. Public libraries often have audiobooks, if you don't want to spend any money on this. Make sure the book is on a subject you will enjoy. Read along with the audiobook for the first chapter. When you come across a word you don't know, write it down.

2. When you get to the end of the chapter, pause the audiobook. Get out your dictionary (there are many online to choose from, but I do recommend owning your own dictionary) and look up all the words you don't know. Write down a short version of the definition for each word.

3. Try to read the second chapter on your own, reading aloud if it helps you. Try to understand every sentence for at least 5 pages (if this is very hard for you, after 5 pages go back to reading along with the audiobook for the rest of the chapter). It's tempting to skim over something you don't understand, but don't do that. You want to understand everything that's happening or being described with perfect clarity. Try rewording a sentence if you aren't getting it, or look at the sentences around it for context clues. You might be able to ask someone else for help if you're really stuck. Look up words you don't understand while you're reading, adding them to your list with a short definition of each.

4. After reading the second chapter on your own, read the third chapter while listening to the audio of that chapter. Again, write down all the words you don't know and look them up when you're done listening to the chapter. Write down short definitions of these new words.

5. Repeat this process of listening to and reading along with every-other chapter of the book. If you weren't able to read the whole of chapter 2 by yourself, then you need to add one page for every chapter you read by yourself. For example, if you read 5 pages by yourself in chapter 2, then in chapter 4 you'll read 6 pages by yourself; in chapter 6, you'll read 7 pages; in chapter 8 you'll read 8 pages; and so on. Continue looking up words you don't know and writing down definitions.

6. After you've read the whole book like that, find another book that interests you. You'll want this second book to be a little easier to read than the first book, so skim through it a bit before you check it out/buy it to make sure it's not too hard. You don't need an audiobook for this one - you're reading it by yourself the whole way through. Don't skip through parts you don't understand. Try to figure out what everything means, even if it takes you a while. Look up words you don't know and write down definitions.

7. After you've finished the second book, find a third book with an audiobook version as well. The third book should be a little harder to read than the first one, or about the same if you weren't reading whole chapters by yourself with clarity. Do the same thing with the third book that you did with the first - read along with every-other chapter, read the chapters in between by yourself. Look up words you don't know.

8. Repeat this whole process again and again until you feel you don't need the audiobook help anymore to understand what you're reading. Continue to slowly raise the level of difficulty of the books you're reading. Continue looking up words you don't know. Never skim over a sentence you don't understand.

If you do this, you will notice improvement in your reading comprehension with every book you read. Your brain is built for learning. It wants to learn. All you need to do is give it the material to learn from, and regularly work with that material.

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