Today, we’re giving you even more tools for practicing your English in your spare time. This time, let’s look at some activities you can do while you’re on the move.
We’ve already talked a lot about using movies, TV, and videos to improve your listening comprehension skills. The only problem with this approach is that you have to stay in one place until the video is over, which can become a problem if you travel a lot or if you have a very busy work schedule. You might not always have access to a television or a computer but there are surely some spare moments during your day when you have some extra time, like during your commute to work or while you’re exercising.
Improve Your Comprehension with Podcasts and Audiobooks
Check out Abbe’s tips and learn how you can improve your comprehension with podcasts and audiobooks.
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Now what if I told you that you could use this spare time as an opportunity to immerse yourself in English? Since almost everyone nowadays has a smartphone, this is totally possible using podcasts and audiobooks. For those of you who don’t know what these are, they are both recordings that you can store in your mobile device and play whenever you want to.
Audiobooks vs. podcasts
Podcasts are shows that are similar to what you might hear on the radio, while audiobooks are entire books that have been read out loud and recorded. Podcasts are ideal for beginners because many are specifically designed for English learners and feature things like slower pronunciation and adapted vocabulary and grammar. There are also plenty of “regular podcasts” on all sorts of topics, so you’re sure to find at least one that interests you. Usually the level of English for “regular podcasts” is suitable for intermediate learners. Although beginners who are very motivated might also be able to understand them, especially if a transcript is available online.
Initially designed for people who are blind or visually impaired or people who don’t have time to read books on paper, audiobooks or books on tape, are also great for language learners who want to work on their listening comprehension. Audiobooks are generally best for more advanced learners depending on the book, so be sure you choose according to your level.
Where can I find podcasts and audiobooks?
Podcasts and audiobooks are available straight from your mobile device and more often than not they’re free. For those of you who use Apple a podcast application comes already downloaded on your device. You can search from among the hundreds of podcasts available, load and play. It’s as easy as that!
For Android users, I recommend applications like TuneIn or Podcast Addict. These work in the same way that I just described. Similarly you can search, download and play audiobooks on your Apple device using the iBooks app. Use the filter to search for audiobooks only.
The app Audible is also an excellent source for audiobooks and is available on Android and iOS. You can also explore the content of the app LibriVox, which has thousands of free audiobooks. Check with your local library to see if they offer downloadable audiobooks. My library has a pretty wide selection and of course borrowing them is free. You might need to download a special app such as Overdrive in order to listen to these audiobooks.
Advice for Using Audiobooks and Podcasts to Improve Listening Comprehension
There are a few things you need to know before downloading your first podcast or audiobook.
Choose appropriate content
Remember that there are tons of audiobooks and podcasts out there. Not all of them will be right for your level or your interests. It might be smart to start with a podcast that is dedicated to English learners, and if you understand that one easily then you can move on to a regular podcast.
Once you feel comfortable, go ahead and explore other podcasts about your interests or hobbies. The same goes for audiobooks. As I said earlier these are usually best for intermediate to advanced learners. If you do decide to take on this challenge, I recommend going for a book that is better suited to language learners like The Little Prince or the first Harry Potter book. Another good option is to pick a book that you have already read and enjoyed in your native language. Since you’re already familiar with the plot you can focus on the language and improving your comprehension skills.
I also recommend choosing a book that is fairly short to start or a book that does not have tons and tons of characters and different plot lines.
Work at your own pace
One last piece of advice: while you’re listening, be sure to use the pause and rewind buttons whenever you feel that it’s necessary. The more you repeat an expression the more likely you are to remember it. And if you still find it too hard to understand, feel free to reduce the audio speed.There’s usually a button in your app or music player that allows you to reduce the speed to 0.75x or even 0.5x the normal speed. 0.75x is usually perfect and you’ll see listening to English content can be easy and enjoyable.
Conclusion to Improve Your Comprehension with Podcasts and Audiobooks
So what are you waiting for? Put in your earbuds, get moving and start learning a language today. And remember, consistency and regularity are paramount if you want to make progress in English. Hope you enjoyed this article on how to improve your comprehension with podcasts and audiobooks. Take care and we’ll see you soon!
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