Maximize Your English Learning with Audiobooks -- Strategies for Advanced Learners

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Take your English listening skills to the next level with audiobooks! Discover my top advanced strategies to improve comprehension and fully immerse yourself in the language. You can also learn while doing other tasks, like cleaning or exercising. Get the most out of your audiobooks to learn and grow in English!

Hello, Advanced English learners. Welcome back to another lesson. I am really excited to share with you a few strategies on how to improve your listening comprehension through the use of audiobooks. If you're ready, let's get started.

I'm someone who really likes to read. I like reading books that are paperback, hard cover. I like reading books that are on my tablet or my Kindle, and I also love listening to. Audiobooks. I find that I'm able to get transported to another world if I'm listening to something more sci-fi or fantasy based that transports me. 

I also love learning through audiobooks, and I find that this is a way of, really being able to consume content while doing something else. For example, you might be biking, you might be walking while stationary, biking, of course not on the road. You might be doing some tasks around the house, such as vacuuming, cleaning, maybe you're preparing your meal.

And so I really like to do this at the times when I feel like I want to be doing something as well to enrich myself and not just doing the task at hand, if that makes sense. So this is a great way to get in a few more books that you want to read during the year and just keep on improving yourself.

Keep improving your language skills, keep improving your communication skills, keep improving other things, aspects that you want to learn. So I'm a big fan of audio books. Alright. That being said, as I was listening to one of my recent audio books, which I just finished by the way, and it was a really good book.

I can share with you what I read in the comments if you're interested, but I was thinking how can somebody who is maybe learning English through audiobooks, for example, how would they improve their listening comprehension? So I'm going to share with you a few of the strategies that I came up with that are also based on my own journey through learning different languages and consuming content and learning from what I read and what I listen to.

Okay. That being said, let's get into the strategies.

The first strategy is to visualize the words. Now, what I mean by this is, as you are listening, I want you to basically see the words as they are being spoken, meaning as they're being received into your own hearing. So for example, if the book says "it was a cold wintry day and the sun was behind the clouds," I want you to see every single word or as many of the words as you can by listening for them and visualizing them in your mind.

So really seeing each and every word as it is being spoken by the person reading the audio book by the narrator and doing so will help you identify different grammar, different tenses, different vocabulary expressions, paying attention to syntax, word order, and the nitty gritty of english. Okay, so that's the first.

Now, if you want to take this a step further, what you can do is a dictation. So a dictation is an exercise where you will be listening to something. Usually it's set in classrooms where the teacher is reading an excerpt from a book, right? So you have a book, a part of a book that is being read and, it can vary in length.

Sometimes it might be five minutes, sometimes it might be 10 minutes. And as the teacher is essentially narrating or reading that excerpt from the book, you are writing out what they're saying. So this really is a great exercise to help you think about punctuation, grammar, capitalization, in addition to all of the previous elements I've spoken about, the syntax, the verb tenses, the structure of the sentence essentially, and of the paragraph. 

So if you wanted to take the first strategy a step further, then I would recommend you be seated somewhere. I would do this with a pen and paper in hand. I don't know that I would necessarily type it out because there's a strong connection between thoughts and having your brain process information and then writing it out physically. I would encourage you to do it that way if you decide to do this dictation. And the way you can do it is you sit down at your desk, at a table, you have your audiobook, which is probably going to be on your phone or on another device, maybe your tablet.

And as you're listening, give yourself, some time to understand what's going on. First, listen to it for about 10 minutes, maybe five minutes, and then stop it and then play it again. And as you play it the second time, you can do this dictation and try not to pause it.

So let's say you say, I'm just going to write for 10 minutes, then just stick to 10 minutes. If you say, I'm just going to do five minutes, just do five minutes and avoid the temptation to pause it and then go back. You can do that, but I would first encourage you to try it out, and then the third time around, when you do listen to it, you can check your answers.

So make sure it's easy enough for you to go back to the beginning of the excerpt. So maybe you start at the beginning of a chapter. Where it's easy to go back so that you can do this a few times because it should take about two or three rounds. You want to make sure you prime your listening first, then you want to do the dictation, and then the last thing you want to do is check your answers.

And I would go in with a red pen and circle and ad where there might be some adjustments to be made. So that is a great activity to. When you really want to test yourself and test your listening comprehension with your audiobook.

Are you ready for the next strategy?

 All right. The second one is a different type of visualization. With this type of visualization, I want you to visualize the story unfold, so I would recommend doing this with a book that has a story element to it. So less so within more information-based books like a How to Guide for example, because I think this is easier to try to do with a story.

So if you are listening to your book and they're using descriptive language to describe a character or a place or an environment, or a situation or they're taking you down memory lane and they're evoking a certain memory that's important to the narrator or the author. That way as you're listening, you are imagining the scene unfold.

And so if the story is talking about a big red barn with different types of barn animals and how the farmers there are working around the clock to make sure their barn animals are taken care of really well, and so on and so forth. You can actually visualize this scene. So it's different from the first one where you were really thinking of the mechanics of the language, where you are paying attention to the structure, to the verbs, to the tenses, to the syntax, to the word order.

Now you're paying attention to the meaning behind the words, the semantics. So imagining the story take place by listening to what the narrator is saying. This is a great way to improve your listening skills, and you can even jot down the scene in terms of what it evoked, the memory that you have now of that excerpt.

And again, you can pause and go back and listen again and see where you were aligned and see where maybe you misheard or didn't hear close enough or made a mistake and so on and so forth, so this way you can actually check and make sure that you're following.

The third thing you can do is pause, rewind, re-listen. So this could be when you are on a walk, and as you're doing so you are paying attention to certain elements. Maybe you're doing a mix of both thinking about visualizing the words as well as visualizing the story and scene. And if you feel like you missed something, pause.

Think for a second. What did I miss? Was it a tense thing? Was it a grammar thing? Was it a verb? Was it a phrase, was it a phrasal verb? Was it maybe something about the pronunciation? Maybe the connected speech. So many different elements, right? And if there's dialogue, maybe you're intrigued by the dialogue in there.

So I would recommend doing this when you are out and about and you're, in the middle of piecing together the story as well as the mechanics of the language. That's a good exercise to do when you are fully focused on that, but your mind is at ease by walking, right?

There's so many therapeutic benefits of walking, especially in nature. So if you can do this where you're in a relaxed state and you're also paying attention, I would recommend doing this. Of course. Make sure you're walking in a safe way, right? You don't want to be bumping into people or having any issues with traffic but it's a good thing to do when your mind is also relaxed, and I say walking, but you could just as easily be, sitting down and consuming your audiobook, listening to your audiobook as you do this.

All right. Strategy number four. Keep a notepad next to you or a Word document that you might have open on your tablet or your computer so that you can jot down any words, any phrases, any notes that you want to make. And what's great is you can also look at the timestamp as the story is being told.

And you can go back to that specific moment in time because you have that exact number on the timestamp, where in the story you are, where in the book you are and you can always go back. So what I like to do is I like to make a note of what I'm doing. So I have the timestamp there, and then I jot down my thoughts, my questions, my comments, maybe things I want to revisit, because a lot of times with audio, there's so much that can get lost in translation, so to speak.

Even if you are a native speaker and you're listening to a book in your L one, your native language. , you might need to go back, right? With a book, it's easy enough to just go back, just physically turn the pages back and revisit something. Maybe you make a note in the margin. With an audiobook, that's not the way we can do things.

So you can bookmark it physically in your app if you're using something like Audible, which is the Amazon app, or if you're using Libby, which is the free library app, both of which I really like. I really like Audible. I really like Libby. That aside, you can go and actually bookmark something, but I would really recommend doing this on a computer where you can find and search for terms.

So if you remember, oh, that passage about the garden. I want to go back into that and dive into that a little bit more maybe. Or if you are learning something and you want to revisit a topic that was discussed, go back. It's very easy to do so if you have the timestamp. So making notes like this will be really helpful as a reference guide, and that way you can also see what you picked up.

So another great way, not just from a learning perspective as in learning a concept, but also from a language perspective and making sure that you're following along and picking up on important things for your own language use and communication.

All right, and my final tip here, my final strategy is for you to actually use what you learned. Choose something. Choose either a tense or maybe pronunciation or something grammatical or something that evokes certain imagery. Whatever you decide to choose that day use it. So if it's specific phrasal verbs that you want to use throughout your day, do it. I challenge you to choose one or two and use it that day, and then the next day, let's say you read 10 minutes of your audiobook, follow up again, do something different. Maybe you build on the previous day. So this is going to be great because it's going to allow you to use what you learn, as opposed to just forgetting about it, just doing what you need to do, but then completely forgetting about it. We need to keep building on what we learn, right? So if we just spend, 10 minutes doing something, but then forget about it the rest of the day, then it's not going to be as useful as if we were to spend five minutes on something, really internalize it and then use it sporadically throughout the day. 

This is something that I really encourage you to do. That way it really sticks. A lot of, you ask me, how do I make my vocabulary stick? I really want to improve my vocabulary. I really want to learn more words. I really want to be able to, choose a word that I can replace if I forget another word while I'm speaking.

Guess what? This is a great activity. The strategies that I shared with you today are great exercises to do to help you build your vocabulary. So if that is your focus, then do this strictly for vocabulary, at least the first few times you do it. And then choose another element of language. And that way it never gets boring. It's always dynamic. There's always something different you can do and change and add. 

So I hope that this was helpful. Let me know what you think. Let me know how you get on with these exercises. Which ones are your favorite? Do you prefer to visualize the words? Do you prefer to visualize the scene? Do you like a mix of both? 

What are some of the audio books that you're enjoying these days? And if you haven't checked it out already, if you have a library card, if you are in the US, first of all, go and sign up at your nearest library. You can get a free library card and with that library card you can download the app, Libby, l i b b y, on Android or iOS.

Type in your library card information, and that way you get access to all these digital books, including audio books that you can take anywhere with you. So I really recommend you do that. That's a wonderful resource. The library's always an amazing place to learn, to be, to hang out, to enjoy, and I would recommend you do that.

All right, so let me know how it all goes, and I will see you very soon in another advanced English lesson. Bye for now and happy advanced English Learning everyone. 

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