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Listening Reading

I find it interesting how many times I have discussions with others about what classifies as "reading". So many don't include other forms, such as audio although they get very hesitant when I ask about braille. I do understand that with print, such as you are reading now, it is the combination of the saccades and fixations to combine the elements into a whole word, and the words into sentences, and on and on. But if part of that "literacy" is the understanding, then listening to the words, or feeling the letters and words should also count. In one of my classes the students are required to "read" a book by listening. One good thing that I think that they experience is the struggle in "learning to read" as an adult. For most of us, learning to read occurred so long ago that you don't remember what it was like to learn that. Now as my students as adults are trying to read their audio book they talk about the fatigue they experiences through extended listening, how easy they were distract, and more. So here are my beginning strategies for learning to listen read:

  1. Start by listening to a book that you have already read and liked. You already know the story and liked it, so you should enjoy it again. You will now just be concentrating on learning the new format, and not also trying to learn new content. 
  2. For a story, make sure that the person reading the story has a good "voice" - even "voices" - the reading needs to have a good sound, you don't want to listen to someone read a book in a single tone, the voice should be interesting. An interesting note though, I've listened to some textbooks being machine read and had no problem with those, but for a novel, you really want that difference between characters. 
  3. For non-fiction, start small, like for between 10 and 20 minutes, then take a break and listen to music, then switch back for another 10 min. While it will take 30 to 40 minutes to get 20 min of content, you won't get lost and lose the content because of listening fatigue. 
  4. Don't try to start listening reading while doing something else that takes much concentration. You might have gotten use to listening while reading, or talking while reading, but when you started, multitasking wasn't going to help, so to begin listen reading I would suggest you try it with something that you do that doesn't take much thinking, vacuuming, mowing the lawn, using an exercise machine, even a nice walk. 

Listening to a book while riding the tram to the mountain top. 

Can audiobooks, podcasts improve literacy?Listening to stories can help improve literacy skills among students who dislike or struggle with reading, according to the educators and experts mentioned in this blog post. They offer a list of recommended audiobooks and podcasts. (10/23/2016)  


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