Audiobooks have never really been that popular, here in Italy.
I actually do not know why, but audiobooks have just been limited to tales for children and nothing more. To be honest, they haven’t even been that popular in such format too.
I have always heard my foreign friends talk about their habit of listening to audiobooks while in the car or while doing sports, for example, while I do not know a single Italian who listens to audiobooks for pleasure.*
It may be due to the fact that we are not used to long commuting hours in the car, for example. Or maybe to the fact that we are not heavy readers and we tend to get bored quite easily. I have no explanations for that, it’s not part of our culture and daily habits.
This means that audiobooks in Italian have always been quite difficult to find. Finally, though, things have changed. When Amazon launched Audible (no affiliation here, you can actually find Italian audiobooks on Itunes as well) I was super happy about it, because there is now a wide variety of Italian titles available as audiobooks, some of which are read by talented actors. This means that if you need to practice your Italian, you have a new useful resource now.
But how can you use audiobooks to practice your Italian?
There are many different ways to do so, let me just list a few.
1. Work on your comprehension skills
This is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of using audiobooks for language learning. If you are an intermediate Italian speaker, you can use audiobooks to improve your ability to understand spoken language.
If you find it difficult, you can always use the written text to help you with understanding. Maybe you can choose a book you are already familiar with – you do not have to choose Italian books only, you can go for English books in their Italian version.
2 – Improve your pronunciation
I think that audiobooks are a great way to improve the way you pronounce words in Italian. You can listen to your audiobook while following the written text and this will help you enormously to learn how words and phrases are pronounced. I think this is probably the best way to make good use of audiobooks while learning Italian.
3 – Get used to the sound of the language
You may use audiobooks in a whole different way, without a specific purpose. You can put them on while in the car or while walking around doing errands, without paying too much attention to what it is being said, just listening to the sound of the language.
After a while, you’ll notice you’ll be able to recognize words and phrases, sometimes even without knowing their meaning, but they’ll be in your mind and it will take just a quick look at a dictionary to figure out their meaning and have them fixed in your mind.
Believe me, it works. I used to experience such a process while learning English and consuming hours of music: I didn’t know what was being said, but a lot of words just stuck in my head and acquisition was done.
And you? Do you use audiobooks for language learning? If so, in which way? Let me know!
* 2019 update: this post was written in 2017 and such was the situation at the time. Things have changed deeply lately and audiobooks have become quite popular in Italy as well.
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