A lot of people prefer audio books to their paper counterparts because they are easy to use (no reading required), they can be enjoyed anywhere (even in the car or in the dark), and they are better for the environment (guaranteed to denude fewer forests). And these are just a few of the many reasons to opt for audio books. But if you didn’t realize that the audio books you consume could actually help to improve your communication skills, then you may be missing out on one of the best reasons to choose them over traditional reading. And they can be especially useful for the segment of the population that learns better through auditory rather than visual methods. But how can listening to books help you to communicate more effectively?
Although the parts of your brain that pertain to listening/comprehending language and speaking are distinct (Wernicke’s area and Broca’s area, respectively), the two are linked, according to studies (such as the one detailed in the August 2011 issue of Psychological Science, which ascertained that the same areas of the brain were active during both listening and speaking). This could mean that the way you listen (or the fact that you’re listening instead of looking) could have a marked effect on how you reverse the process when you speak.
For starters, there are some pretty obvious benefits. Listening to the way others speak can help you to copy accents and intonations so that you learn to say words properly. This is not only useful for children and foreigners that are just beginning to learn a new language; it can also aid the average adult in learning the pronunciation of certain words. And listening to audio books can also increase vocabulary and comprehension, both of which are necessary for better communication. When you have a variety of words at your disposal in order to make your meaner clear, you will find that people are able to understand your intent more quickly and easily.
In some cases, hearing words can even help to improve your spelling. This might sound somewhat counterintuitive, but when you know how a word sounds you may have an easier time spelling it out later, as opposed to trying to recall the arrangement of letters on a page. And how often do you read aloud to connect the sound of a word to its written representation? Probably rarely (if ever).
Of course, the biggest benefit to listening to audio books is that it helps you to improve your own comprehension of the meaning of spoken words. Hearing language used in context contributes to a better understanding of the usage of particular words and phrases, which can easily translate into everyday conversation. After all, what is communication but a guessing game where two (or more) people try to come to a common understanding using words as a bridge? Listening to literature can help you to state your own intent clearly and concisely in conversation, as well as gain comprehension of what others are saying (perhaps even when they don’t know themselves). The long and short of it is that listening is just a different way to learn. But considering that most communication between humans is verbal, listening may be the best way to learn to communicate better.