Is it worth reading a book in target language if I don't have the audiobook alongside it?

I have been learning German for almost 6 months now and thought it would be a good idea if I read a book I like (The unbearable lightness of being) In German. The only problem is that I cant find a German audiobook for the book that is free and so I would have to buy the book and the audiobook which would be quite expensive. So what I want to know is whether it will still be worth reading the book without the benefits that would come from also having the audiobook e.g. Listening to it while reading to improve pronunciation and being able to listen the the book while doing other actives etc…

What are your thoughts?

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Without audio, you will neither improve your pronunciation nor develop your listening comprehension.
But still: It’s always worth reading a book, with or without audio. :slight_smile:

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Reading Kundera is rather peculiar, did so myself in French, did not regret it but would recommend something else. You can get a book on annas-archive, then decide is it worth it or not. Here’s the link -
I read 60 books so far in French and none of them were with audio. It seems to me that reading and listening to a book are separate things. Though I must say that having an audiobook for a text with some metrical structure would be beneficial.
Anyways, I hope that Kundera’s works bring you a lot of joy!


I too thought I had to have the audiobook for a target text. So when I started the first Harry Potter in French, I bought the audiobook from and away I went.

Except … I hated the voice actor for his very annoying overacting. I disliked the way LingQ chopped up the audio by the sentence. (Though I don’t particularly blame LingQ – it must be difficult.)

So I gave up on the audiobook and just listened to the Text-to-Speech voice. Its a pleasant neutral voice without ambient noise and large dynamic swings.

I suppose this is not ideal preparation for real spoken French. But I find it difficult enough to hear the words in TTS. (I do have some hearing loss.) My listening compreshension is improving, but slowly.

Anyway, I’m happy enough without audiobooks for now.

I have found that I need to be at a fairly high level in the language to read fiction without audio narration. Without audio, I find myself getting bogged down in single words and sentences, whereas with audio (when it’s playing but even when it’s paused) I feel urgency to move on in the text.

P.S.: I assume you’ve already seen that and it’s out of your budget, but just in case, the German audiobook is on Audible:

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In Greek I buy the text and read+listen in sentence mode. LingQ produces text to speech which I find fine.

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I would underline the pronunciation issue.

Although I tend to be more interested in reading than hearing or speaking, I considered it absolutely essential, as I started learning French, to hear good French, so I would connect the correct pronunciation with the words.

In addition to hearing French, it’s also an opportunity to speak French by listening/repeating/shadowing.

As I said earlier, for me TTS is adequate, while not perfect, for that purpose.

I’d like to read Heidegger too!

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Fluency in a language requires 4 separate skills: reading(1), writing(2), speaking(3), and understanding spoken input(4). The 4 skills share vocabulary and grammar. You improve the 4 skills at different speeds, but will eventually learn all 4.

When you read a book without the audiobook, you won’t be improving skill 4. But you will improve skill 1, and you will improve vocabulary. If you read a book with an audiobook, you won’t improve skill 1 very much, because you will rely on the sound for understanding. You won’t be practicing the key skill (understanding the meaning entirely from written words).

I study Chinese. I listen to it every day. I also do a daily reading practice of 25 sentences. In my reading practice, I try to understand each sentence without any audio. After that, I click the button to hear the audio, which is usually easier.

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You could use the AI voices in Edge.
They’re pretty amazing!

So you want to read “Heidegger” as well? :slight_smile:
I really wish you luck because that’s extremely “tough” even for native speakers of German.

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If you can copy and paste the text you can always feed it into a good TTS to let the AI voice read out the lines for you.

But generally if you’re a beginner and still familiarizing yourself with the sounds of the language I’d recommend trying to stick to something with an audio accompaniment. If you’re an intermediate or advanced learner it likely doesn’t matter much either way.

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Personally, I only study content, which has both text and audio, because reading while listening is my preferred technique. I am interested in both reading and listening in the languages I learn, so I try to develop both these skill areas simultaneously. At an upper intermediate/lower advanced level (B2+ or C1), I start to move away from reading while listening as a technique to focus specifically on each skill area, but from A0 to B2, I insist on having audio with my text. That said, I don’t read books before B2 (because aural fluency is usually easier to reach before reading fluency in most languages, mainly due to just requiring less vocabulary), so by the time I get to books, I may actually choose to read the book without the audiobook.

TL;DR If you are interested in solely improving your reading comprehension, then books without audiobooks are not a problem.

P.S. I significantly prefer native audio over TTS.

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Go for it. Any input is good input. You are probably doing listening practice without text so why not the other way around? In any case, it’s a small part of your practice and not going to skew your input in any significant way. The only question is whether it’s within your level.

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I was a German major back in the old days before audiobooks were readily available. Thanks to extensive reading in German, I am still able to do much of my personal reading, news, and video in German, all these many years later.

Audiobooks would be more important for a language like French, where pronunciation and spelling is a challenge.

German spelling and pronunciation is straightforward, so you don’t need the audiobook quite as much.

The most important thing is picking out material that you find interesting and fun, whether it is reading, audio, video, movies, flashcards and computer apps, books, magazines, live people, e-mail and texts, or a combination of things. Try reading without listening, listening with and without a transcript, and see what works for you.

I managed to finish the “Wizard of Oz” in Russian on Linq with about 75% unknown words. Now that I’m reading easier kids’ stuff, i’m finding many of my flashcard examples are from “The Wizard of Oz”, which is a lot of fun.

If you are able to make headway on a difficult book after only 6 months of study, congratulations! When you’re ready, you can try out some easy content on Linq, and review the flashcards for the easy content before reading it. Then you’ll see example sentences from your challenging book.

What you enjoy will change from time to time. So don’t be afraid to mix it up!


One more thing-- you would be better off relying on an actual audiobook rather than the AI generated voice for extensive listening in German. The German AI voice on this system is fine for learning to recognize invididual words and phrases, but it won’t help you much with picking up the “Satzmelodie,”-- the German “sentence melody” and phrasing.

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