Is Listening as Good as Reading?

Naturally, students would rather watch the movie than read the book. Who wouldn’t? Well, some of us still prefer reading the book first, and then seeing the movie. But, I have had many students want to listen to the book rather than read it. They might follow and understand the story better if they listened to it. So is that a bad thing? Of course if they read it AND listened to it, that would be a benefit. But if they just listen, aren’t they missing something? THAT IS THE QUESTION. And I think classroom teachers and librarians are going to have to find the answer soon. In my high school district, the librarians I spoke with didn’t spend much of their limited budgets on either ebooks or audio books because the students didn’t check them out much. Is this just because the students don’t know how to do that, or do those who read really prefer the hard copy? Would more students “read” if they knew there were audio books available through the library?

I ran across a current article on this today and hope to find more. Lots of the research focuses on supporting second-language-learners with follow-along text-reading combinations. That makes all the sense in the world as a support. And for those who have other impairments that would make listening support an obvious choice, that’s not a question. Can average or advanced students learn vocabulary, text structures, sentence structure, and absorb themes or notice motifs listening to an audio book only?

Here’s one article on the subject:

http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/aaslpubsandjournals/slr/vol19/SLR_AudiobooksLegitimateReading_V19.pdf

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