How to Improve Oral Comprehension with Audio Texts | Step by Step Instructions
If your goal is to Improve Oral Comprehension of a language that you are currently learning, then I hope that some of my ideas will help you with this.
But if your question is: “Should I listen to audio to improve my French?” then, let me tell you, it’s a completely WRONG question. The right one is “What should I listen to in order to improve my French?” Of course, the same goes for Italian, Spanish, German etc…
Actually, you should start listening to audio texts, audio books, radio, songs, podcasts and watch foreign movies in your target language ASAP. For example for French, usually, oral comprehension is the most difficult aspect of mastering the language due to liaison and enchaînement (2 phonetic rules that exist French). They make it difficult, especially for beginners, to understand where one word ends and another one starts.
The key idea
If you want to improve:
1. oral comprehension - you have to listen to all kinds of Audio sources
2. vocabulary - you have to Read as much as possible
3. grammar - you have to do plenty of grammar drills / exercises
4. conversation skills - you have to talk non stop
In order to improve a specific aspect of a language you need to do exercises designed specifically for this. Obviously, it would be wonderful to wake up one day and suddenly you understand French without even listening to any Audio texts / exercises... but chances of this are very slim... You need to develop this specific ability, this "muscle". It's like going to the gym or running. If you never trained for a marathon, then how would you expect to come first at the finish line?
So make it a habit from the very beginning to incorporate listening in your learning process. And here are some of my suggestions on how to do it.
- Your eyes are tired from reading? Listen to an Audio text…
- Doing dishes / laundry etc? Listen to an Audio text…
- Going for a walk with your dog? Listen to an Audio text…
- Driving home from work? Listen to an Audio text…
- Cooking a dinner? Listen to an Audio text…
You get the idea… Audio practice is very easy to incorporate in your day-to-day activities without having to create extra time for studying. And this is so precious taking into consideration how busy we usually are. What better time to learn French, Spanish or Italian than in a car! Instead of filling your head with mindless commercial radio, you can instead fill it with new vocabulary. And for all those of you who are too afraid to speak French out loud... your car (or shower) is the perfect sound booth for perfecting your French RRRRRR:)
Lots of choices of Audio texts
The choice of audio sources is overwhelming. If you are taking classes with us at Multilingual Society, usually, both text and work books come with audio, start using it from class #1. As you already know, there are tons of audio lessons, audiobooks and other audio resources available online.
My absolute favorite is Audio Books. There are Aufio Books that you can choose for a specific level: A1, A2, B1 etc. These books come with printed text, vocabulary and grammar exercises for each chapter. It’s an amazing tool to use to improve your oral comprehension as well as to increase vocabulary, practice grammar and also conversation skills by discussing each chapter, characters etc.
Best sleeping pill ever:)
I am not even joking… Last, but not least reason to listen to Audio Books is that it’s the best way to fall asleep if you have insomnia:) Proven technique! I am still using it:) Put a timer for 15 min and before you know it will be morning. The only issue is that you will have to listen to the same chapter again and again, lol…
How to work with Audio Books in a more efficient way | Step by Step Instructions
- Listen WITHOUT reading the text. Listen to the first chapter 3-4 times without reading the text at the same time. Why without text? It is much easier to read a text and understand it as so many words are similar in English. Remember, you need to train your ear. Once you see the text and you understand the content, it's not going to be as beneficial as to force yourself to listen couple of times without reading the text as the same time. It’s much more difficult to understand the text just by listening to it, but this is the whole point - develop Oral Comprehension. In order to develop Oral Comprehension you have to develop this particular skill and you can do it ONLY by listening and listening and listening even more.
- Listen WITH the text in front of your eyes. Next step is to listen to the same chapter with the text in front of your eyes. The goal here is to associate the pronunciation with written words and understand the meaning.
- Listen and repeat LOUD. Now listen again with the text in front of your eyes and this time try to repeat the words loud after the narrator. It’s not always possible to keep the same pace; you might skip some lines or pause. But this exercise will help you to improve your pronunciation. The point is to pronounce it LOUD not just in your head.
- Read and underline words you don't understand. Now work with the printed text. Read it and circle or underline the words that you don’t know and might need to look up in the dictionary. You don’t have to search for every single word that you don’t know, instead try to get a feel for it and search mostly for the key words.
- Exercises. Do the exercises for this specific chapter. They are usually at the end of the book or right after each chapter, depending on the publisher. The goal here is to use the same vocabulary but now in a different way. It will hep you to memorizing new vocabulary.
- Tell the story LOUD. Next step is so important, don’t skip it! Tell me the story and describe the characters. I know it might seem funny when you talk to yourself 🙂 Therefore, imagine that you tell the story to a friend or your language instructor. But you have to tell the story loud. It will help you much more to memorize the words than if you were to tell this story just in your head.
- Record yourself on your phone. One more interesting exercise to do – record yourself. Couple options: record yourself just reading the text as it is and then listen to your recording with the text in front of your eyes and see if you hear any mistakes. Another exercise is to record the story that you tell without using the text.
- Transcribe the text. Last but definitely NOT the least and it’s actually one of my favorite exercises ever! Transcribe the text. This should be done after you have listened to this text a number of times and have done all or most of exercises described above. You will be amazed to see that when you transcribe a text, you will have to think globally and remember how all the words are connected in a sentence, use agreement in gender and number, all different endings etc. It all comes together in this exercise.
And below you will find some book that I would suggest for different languages and different levels.
Let me know about your experience with these Audio books in the comments below.
Have an amazing day!