Notes on an Experiment: Reading in one language while listening in another

This has been brought up before, and was met with some dismissal, but I’ve been testing this method, and I’m finding that under some circumstances, reading in your target language, while listening in your native, or vice versa, has some benefits worth considering.

First off, a caveat, YES, for best results, you should really read and listen along in your target language. I agree whole-heartedly, BUT –

In the cases where the right materials, such as books w/ matching audio are not available, this miss-match method can come in handy. It’s basically comparative reading by means of audio. You don’t get the listening practice, of course, but you do get to speed up your reading comprehension.

My case in point: Korean. I’ve gone down many click holes trying to find Korean audiobooks, but they just don’t exist at this point. However, Google play has a lot of Korean e-books I can get. So, I first started doing comparative reading the old school way, getting an e-book in Korean, and reading it along side by side with the English version. It’s a proven technique and it works, but it’s also a bit cumbersome and tiring, having to switch between books / screens etc.

Replacing the English book version with audio, and reading along while listening, I’m getting the same comparative process, but my fatigue level drops, and both my endurance and reading speed increases. I’m able to get through almost four times as much text in one sitting this way than with the standard process.

Switching it around, listening in your target language while reading in your native, also has benefits, in this case, building listening comprehension during the comparative process. I call this a “subtitled audiobook” and have done it once with French when the book I was listening to was available in audio, but not in book form in the US.

The miss-match method is also a great way to “recycle” audio books you’ve listened to before, or books you’ve read – you can now go through them again accompanied with a different language element.

I do hope that one day Korean audiobooks will become a thing, but before then, I’m gonna keep reading with this method until I get good enough to read without a comparative accompaniment.

Have you guys tried these methods before? What was your experience?

1 Like