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Reading strategies: Using audio recordings while reading 

October 25, 2022 by Nóra Wünsch-Nagy

What are the most practical reading strategies you can share with your students? We asked ourselves this question and came up with 8 different approaches which we will share with you throughout the year. Reading in a foreign language is both fun and challenging. Students discover new worlds through a new language, and not only does this experience make them feel good, but it also gives them access to new territories. However, reading in a foreign language also poses challenges: these new words often open up new areas of knowledge, and there’s a new logic in the sentences, paragraphs, genres, and narrative structures. In this series, we share some tips you can adapt and use with your students. 

In our first post, we focused on INTERACTION, and in the second on QUESTIONS. In the third post, we gave you ideas on BUILDING BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGE. In our fourth post, we gave you two ways of WORKING WITH GENRES. In our fifth post, we presented NARRATIVE STRUCTURES. In our sixth post, we gave you some ideas on dealing with NEW WORDS WHILE READING.

In this post, you will see how you can improve listening skills while reading stories. 

All graded readers in the Helbling Readers series have audio recordings which are available on Helbling e-zone. The latest series of readers - Listen in Stories, focuses on developing active listening skills while reading with skill-specific exercises. 

Six benefits of using audio recordings with reading

Here are six reasons why your students should listen to the story as they read.

  • Listening to a story while reading it adds enjoyment and reinforces meaning.
  • They will hear the correct pronunciation of words in the given context.
  • It is a natural way to notice intonation in longer texts and dialogues.
  • They can alternate between listening and listening while reading in order to vary modes of approaching the text.
  • By repeating what they hear they will improve their pronunciation.
  • The actor’s voice adds meaning to the text and helps understanding.

Using the audio recording of a story in class

Here are some ways of using the audio recordings in class.

  • Do the listening exercises in the readers as a class activity.
  • Let students focus on listening to and reading a whole chapter in class. Then, do some comprehension exercises together.
  • Alternatively, listen to a chapter first and do comprehension exercises based on the listening. Then, let students read the same chapter to check their answers.
  • Highlight challenging parts which you listen to and discuss in class.
  • Dedicate 15 minutes every week to a D.E.A.R. session (Drop Everything and Read) (add link) but add the audio recording to it. Students will see it as a reward or fun story-time.

Linking reading and listening to stories

Listening and reading require different skills and strategies from the students. Focusing on these skills separately has its benefits, but their combination produces confidence-boosting outcomes with positive language development results. Here are two ways of supporting reading with listening.

When listening to a story, students need to follow the reading pace of the narrators and actors, which helps them focus on the story, but they might feel lost at certain moments. This can be supported by follow-up reading practice. While reading, encourage students to slow down or stop the recording if they are unsure about the meaning.

Audio recordings help students make meaning thanks to the interpretation of the actors and various sound effects. While listening, ask students to note down how the sound of the story makes them feel and what clues they get from it. Get them to check if the feelings conveyed by the actors in the recording are reflected in the written text.

When listening to a story, students can focus on the following listening skills:

  • distinguishing words,
  • listening for detail and information,
  • general understanding,
  • evaluating and analyzing.

Read about these different types of listening skills in this post.

Next month we’ll be back with ideas on integrating read-aloud and storytelling sessions into your reading classes.

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