Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin.
There is no doubt that reading well-written books and articles in your target language enriches your vocabulary and enhances your language skills, which will obviously have a beneficial effect on your translation skills. However, after staring at a computer screen all day, the last thing you may feel like doing in your free time is reading. That’s where audiobooks come in.
Studies on electronic media consumption are fairly limited, but experts say that on an intellectual level, listening to a book can be just as good as reading it. What’s more, these are books that you can read while you do other, boring tasks such as ironing, polishing the cutlery and working out in the gym. Time flies when you are listening to something fascinating.
Unlike movie versions which are so often “not as good as the book”, many audiobooks are enhanced by skilled narrators who bring our favourite tales and characters to life. Autobiographies can be even more absorbing when read by their authors, such as The Fry Chronicles by Stephen Fry.
An interesting accent can also add to the reading experience and transport the listener to exotic, faraway places. This is the case with The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk and Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh.
Sometimes the narrator is so talented that you can’t imagine the book without the voice, as is the case with Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London read by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, who has mastered a seemingly endless range of accents. Listen to this one and you won’t be able to resist buying the other two books in the Trilogy.
If you want to put a smile on your face, try How to be a Woman, written and read by the hilarious Catilin Moran or the bestselling I Partridge: We need to talk about Alan read by author Steve Coogan. If you read these on the train, be prepared to get some funny looks when you laugh out loud.
For a shorter read, visit http://www.theguardian.com/audio and choose from a fantastic selection of podcasts on a variety of interesting subjects to keep you up to date and with everything from technology to new book releases.
Audiobooks are also good for learning. In a 1977 study, students who listened to a short story were able to summarise it with equal accuracy as those who read it. This could be a good option for your youngsters who find it hard to sit down with a book and is much better than watching the DVD the night before the exam!
Written by Juliet Allaway