Reading for kids: Audiobooks as language learning tools

It is not easy for educators to hear students say, “I don’t like to read” or “I think reading is boring”. But these statements are very common among students that are struggling with reading and language. Yet, there are some tools that can help.

Many educators motivate them to read books at their interest level or get them involve in other reading activities. However, audiobooks are great learning tools to help struggling readers and even bilingual learners in Spanish.

What is an audiobook?

Audiobooks are usually books with a cassette or CD and a narrator that tells the story. They are easily played in a CD player at home or the car. Generally, audiobooks are located in a separate section in a local library.

As a matter of fact, they are categorized by language and reading level. If you need help in finding these types of reading material, please ask your local librarian.

language learning tools

How can bilingual audiobooks be great language learning tools in helping children learn Spanish?

1.  Ease of following along with the story

Many children that are beginning to read in Spanish can find audiobooks easy to read. In this way, listening to the narrator tell the story in Spanish or bilingual help children with pronunciation of specific words.

It can even help them understand the meaning of unfamiliar words and different Spanish dialects. At the same time, audiobooks can be an excellent way for beginners in Spanish to read at their own pace.

Audiobooks can also help struggling readers read more challenging books, which can enhance their reading comprehension.

“The use of audiobooks with struggling, reluctant, or second-language learners is powerful since they act as a scaffold that allows students to read above their actual reading level.” by Kylene Beers in the School Library Journal 1998.

Boosting the reading comprehension of a student can be a challenge for some educators. The student can lack the motivation to read or perhaps to even consider reading other levels.

But audiobooks can help struggling readers to understand the story line in books they are hearing.

2.  Builds reading comprehension

Repetition can sometimes be a child’s best language learning tools to learn. And audiobooks show an uncommon way to build reading comprehension from bilingual or Spanish books.

With audiobooks, parents can pause the narrator and repeat the last sentence or words that were misunderstood. By clearing up any misconception about Spanish phrases or words, children can better grasp the meaning of a story.

It can even be more evident when children are asked questions about the story.

  • What did you learn about the story?
  • What did you like the best about the story?
  • Who was your favorite character?

Any of these questions prompts common curiosity to get children involved in audiobooks.

Involvement in the book they’re listening is a key to their understanding. Whether it is a drawing of their favorite character, creating a craft or simply re-enacting the story with dramatic play, children can be involved in different ways about the story in audiobooks.

3.  Learn together as a family

Learning Spanish for children or even for beginners are present in many ways. But when families are more involved in teaching their children about different Spanish stories and reading together, it is a great learning opportunity.

Sharing stories together with an audiobook and simply discussing the story is a wonderful experience as a family. Children learn about family history and traditions that otherwise would go unnoticed. Children even learn about family heritage.

Perhaps, reading out loud is the most essential task parents and educators help children with their reading skills:

“The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” by Becoming A Nation of Readers 1985.

Because struggling readers, whether in English or Spanish, can’t help themselves, they need the involvement of parents and educators.

Barbara Mascareno

Barbara is an educational writer, teacher, and instructional designer. She loves to write K-12 education content, teaching strategies, bilingual education approaches, and foreign language.

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