Ever dread reading a book due to the lack of an adequate attention span? Audiobooks are the solution to those who simply cannot focus. By hearing the book and interpreting it as the audio reader talks, the listener can feel like they are enveloped in the story. Some benefits of listening to audiobooks include improvement of pronunciation and fluency of words, attention spans skyrocketing, and the books being eco-friendly. However, these proven benefits are not seen by all teachers. Teachers at San Dieguito Academy that teach AP English classes set aside 15-20 minutes at the beginning of class for students to read. Given this little amount of time, with the consistently loud room, some students may feel too distracted to read.
Being in a boisterous classroom and trying to stay focused on a book, one may find it beneficial to put on their headphones and drift away into a peaceful state of reading. Some may ask the question, “Does listening to an audiobook really count as reading?” And the answer to that question depends on the person you ask. If reading is simply understanding the content of the novel, then audiobooks can cover this skill as well. For those who are more auditory learners, listening to an audiobook would be the perfect fit.
If educators might not completely know if they want to integrate audiobooks in the curriculum, they can start small. Some ways could be to allow the audio to play while students follow along in their books, only listen to an audiobook, or take a more independent reading tactic and allow students to listen privately. According to publishers.org,“7 in 10 (69.5%) children and young people said that listening to audiobooks makes it easier to understand the content of a book.” This study from the National Literacy Trust just goes to show the major impact that audiobooks would have on the US education system as a whole. Imagine a room full of students in English class genuinely wanting to read and how easy every student can come to class prepared from actually reading their book, not spark noting it the night before.
One benefit of having audiobooks is that it could potentially make the shy and scared student, who’s afraid to talk in class, less afraid of being randomly called on. Many teachers try the popcorn-read method, where teachers or students call on each other to read aloud to the entire class. Although this may seem like a walk in the park to some people, other people may find it to be a frightening situation. During the popcorn reading, a student might be too focused on reading out the correct words, rather than taking in the text. Audiobooks could eliminate this unnecessary stress since only one narrator is reading the entire time. English teacher Kerri Leonard believes that “students might be scared to talk and read aloud, and they could use the audiobooks as a safety net.” What Leonard says about teens is quite common at SDA. Students can find comfort in connecting with books in other ways than reading a book.
Moreover, studies infer that having an audiobook playing while reading is much less distracting than reading in silence. Many students might feel unmotivated to read because they cannot concentrate on what they are reading. They could be physically reading the book but not mentally reading it. Having an audiobook playing while following along in a book simultaneously can possibly lead to a deeper understanding of books.
Some people may be concerned with audiobooks becoming the only strategy in reading a book, but that problem will never occur as long as teachers utilize it with a perfect balance. Audiobooks should not be substituted for physically reading a book, they should be played while following along in the text.
All in all, audiobooks seem to do more harm than good, so why aren’t they used more often? The answer is simple. Educators don’t truly understand that students can use this opportunity in a positive way: to improve their literacy skills and their overall reading experience. If not taken advantage of, audiobooks can make a positive impact on every student’s life.