Breaking Barriers to Literacy: Using Audiobooks to Overcome Reading...


Breaking Barriers to Literacy: Using Audiobooks to Overcome Reading Challenges

from Learning Ally

By Jeremy Joblon     Mar 20, 2023

Breaking Barriers to Literacy: Using Audiobooks to Overcome Reading Challenges

Literacy is the foundation of overall educational success. Reading skills are the gateway to success in every classroom subject. The need to read is not limited to English Language Arts classes; literacy skills are essential in math, history and all other content areas. Beyond the classroom, literacy is an essential daily life skill. Not being able to read has a profound effect on our self-esteem, social-emotional skills and imagination.

The significance of this cannot be overstated, which is why we once again point to the results of the most recent NAEP Report Card: only 35% of students read proficiently by grade 4, and reading assessment scores are the lowest they’ve been in decades.

Literacy skills, including listening, speaking, reading and writing, can be difficult to support because students can fall on such a broad spectrum. Students enter school at varying levels of preparedness for reading and usually spend the first few years of school learning to read. If reading skills aren’t developed by around fourth grade, when education begins to focus on more complex and higher-order thinking skills, studies have shown that students rarely catch up with their peers to become fluent readers.

The Learning Ally Audiobook Solution

As children age and learning shifts from learning to read to reading to learn, support can mean the difference between learning from reading or suffering sustained academic failure. To empower students to not only be able to read but also to want to read, a holistic approach — offering intensive care for the most at-risk students and specialized attention for those with moderate literacy needs — is key.

Composed of high-quality, human-read audiobooks and a suite of teacher resources to monitor and support student progress, the Learning Ally Audiobook Solution is designed to turn struggling readers into engaged learners. With a library of more than 80,000 culturally relevant, curriculum-aligned audiobooks, our Audiobook Solution has all the books students need to read as well as the ones they will want to read for fun.

Students who use the Learning Ally Audiobook Solution demonstrate increased vocabulary, fluency and comprehension, as well as greater self-confidence and classroom engagement. They also show improved assessment and high-stakes test scores.

Proven Research

Plenty of academic research on the efficacy of audiobook support for literacy skills exists; audiobooks have long been considered an alternative way to access content, particularly for readers with physical and cognitive difficulties, but have the potential to support every reader in their reading journey.

For example, one study found that reading aloud or listening to audiobooks can introduce new vocabulary and concepts, provide a fluent model for students to emulate and allow students access to literature that they cannot read independently. Numerous studies also point to the benefit of audiobooks as a remedy for student disengagement with reading.

In addition, listening to books can benefit readers in different age groups in various ways. For younger children, hearing aloud new vocabulary exposes them to a higher quantity of spoken sophisticated vocabulary, helping mitigate the word gap many emerging readers face, particularly those from low-income homes.

As for older students, researchers found that the relationship between listening and reading comprehension strengthens after second grade when students begin to master decoding skills. Studies on middle and high school readers found that the influence of listening comprehension on variance in reading comprehension continues to grow over time. More research found that audiobooks can be used with adolescent readers to improve their reading fluency, expand their vocabulary, develop their comprehension and increase their motivation to interact with books.

Double the Rate of Reading Growth

In a recent study conducted by the Zarlengo Foundation of over 800 students in grades three through eight in one urban district, students who engaged with the Learning Ally Audiobook Solution with fidelity achieved double the rate of reading growth compared to their peers when evaluated with the STAR Assessment of Reading. Fidelity of reading occurred when students provided with instructional support engaged in reading texts with the solution approximately four times a week over the course of 12 weeks for 30 minutes each time.

Audio technology can be a valuable tool to expand teacher capacity, enable classroom cohesion, provide scaffolding for learning and empower student success.

With its host of student-centric programs to ensure engagement and a suite of reporting and progress monitoring tools for teachers to help manage assignments, track student reading and provide updates to parents and administrators, the Learning Ally Audiobook Solution is more than just audiobooks — it’s a research-backed resource for today’s classrooms. Learn more today.

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