Let Them Listen!

“The objective of the present research study was to understand what benefits the use of audiobooks (both school-books and books of various genres, recorded on digital media) could bring to preadolescents and adolescents with developmental dyslexia. Two groups, each consisting of 20 adolescents, were compared. The experimental group used the audiobooks, while the control group continued to use normal books. After 5 months of experimental training, the experimental group showed a significant improvement in reading accuracy, with reduced unease and emotional–behavioural disorders, as well as an improvement in school performance and a greater motivation and involvement in school activities.” – Milani et al., Dyslexia (journal)

It’s surprising how often we continue to hear that dyslexic students are denied the use of audiobooks in their classrooms. In many cases, it seems it’s because teachers are worried that providing audiobooks would be “cheating” or not pressure students to read the conventional way. But it’s studies like these that show the contrary. Not only does providing audiobooks allow access to much-needed content, it also improved reading accuracy and motivation.

“Audiobooks exerted another significant beneficial effect on reading accuracy. This is probably due to increased training in decoding written words, as the participants had to follow the recordings word-by-word on the written text, and possibly connected with increase in confidence and pleasure with the written text.”

The authors concluded: “A greater use of audiobooks may then be advocated for the future, along with an increased awareness of their beneficial effects in the school and family context. A firmer establishment of partnerships with publishers is needed in order for these technologies to become a consolidated practice, not a sporadic and individually driven initiative.”