In this post, I am discussing the reading & listening method to learn languages. I came across this method on the language forum “how to learn any language” a great source of inspiration for language learners.

The reading & listening method (R-L) consists of reading a text while listening to its audio version. Here is a summary of the main steps:

  1. During the first step of the R-L method, the language learner uses an audiobook in the target language and a text in his own language or a language with which is familiar. The first step, reading the text translated in your own language, allows the language learner to listen and read the text in the second step without having to stop to check the dictionary.
  2. In the second step, the language learner hears the audiobook in the target language but he reads the text in the same language.
  3. In the third step, the language learner tries to repeat loudly the text while listening to the audiobook.

Ultimately, the language learner gets a lot of exposure to the target language and should be able to get a feeling for the language.

I immediately liked this method because it is no based on learning grammar and allows you to use reading material that you are interested in, at least when you achieve an intermediate level.

Sounds great but does it work?

I am currently testing this method; in this first post I will describe my first impressions and results after about 5 days of using intensively this method and in the next posts I will give further information and a final assessment of the pro and cons of the method.

The first texts that I have used to implement the L-R method are Grimm brothers’ fairy tales which are available for free on the internet (the copyright has expired) together with audio versions. The main issue with this material is that the stories are too short, and the L-R method works better with long text as it is the main objective is to provide a lot of exposure to the language.

Then I used The little prince. It was easy to find both the German version (target language) with an audiobook and an English version of the text. I listened to the whole book in two sessions. Similarly to Grimm brothers’ fairy tales, this book turned out to be way too short to provide the right amount of exposure to the target language (German in my case).

Now I am using the first book of the Harry Potter “series”. This seems to work well, the book is enough long to provide a lot of exposure to the target language. I almost finished the book and I can notice an improvement in my reading comprehension of German but not yet any improvement in listening and speaking. I still have not implemented the third step of the method, where one repeats loudly the text after listening to the audiobook, and this step could be the one that helps to speak improving speaking skills.

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