When it comes to language learning few things are more important in the grand scheme of your project than the ability to listen. It’s arguably the most difficult of the three primary aspects of language learning – speaking, listening and literacy – and in my opinion requires the most time and energy to master.
One way you can improve your listening comprehension as well as by extension improve your pronunciation is by listening to audio books from Audible. Here’s why you should check it out:
Audible, an ebook extension of Amazon, has an amazing collection of audio books available in an array of the world’s most widely spoken and learned languages. And you can get in on it for free.
Why audio books?
Unlike written literature audio books give you a listening component that is going to be vastly more relevant and directly useful to most language learning. Yes, literacy is important and some folks are actually exclusively interested in reading but this is generally not the case for the vast majority of us learners.
And this is definitely not to suggest that you should stop reading in your foreign language, only that if your ultimate goals are anything like mine, speaking and understanding others are your primary objectives, and are far and above the more difficult aspects of language learning to master.
Audio books can add an engaging listening tool to your repertoire of language aides and are usually presented by native speakers who are by far the best equipped persons to provide you with ideal pronunciation.
Furthermore audio books are highly portable, and these ones are free.
Audio books can be taken anywhere you can take your mobile device, laptop and a pair of headphones. This means you can listen while you work out at the gym or during your morning run, while driving in the car or while performing chores around the house. It’s unobtrusive and a somewhat passive way to inject more of your target language into your life.
Don’t have a smartphone or tablet? No big deal, you obviously have a computer and you can still access your audio books from that whether you’re working or just playing solitaire.
So, why Audible?
First of all; because it’s a ridiculously great deal!
If you’ve ever tried to buy an audio book as a download from another source or perhaps on CD from a bookstore (back when people used that kind of primitive, archaic stuff), you may have noticed that they aren’t exactly cheap.
Audible takes the cost of audio books and slashes it dramatically. Audible will even give you two free audiobooks just for signing up, something I’ll get to shortly that you definitely don’t want to pass up.
It has an app that you can access on your iOS, Windows or Android devices that gives you instant access to your audio book library.
Furthermore – and perhaps the coolest single feature Audible has – is that it can sync with your Kindle account, even allowing you to switch back and forth between audio and non-audio in the same book! Picking up seamlessly wherever you left off in your reading and returning you to your place with the tapping of a few screens!
This particular feature is fantastic for language learners who are interested in literacy as well because it gives you the ability to get native – and non-robotic – pronunciations on words or passages you’re struggling to read by yourself. You can even listen and read along concurrently. What’s not to love?
If you’re not already using the free Kindle Reader app you should be. It’s also available for all your devices, including your computer, offers a vast selection of free books (including foreign language editions and learning titles) and if you sign up for a Kindle account I earn $3. So you get to support me without actually paying anything. You don’t actually have to own a Kindle. Any mobile device or computer will suffice.
Huge selection of multilingual books and courses!
Audible offers a stupendous selection of foreign language titles as well as over 900 language learning books!
The foreign language books – including a lot of classical literature – are available in German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Russian and of course English. Perhaps not the largest selection on the planet but enough to cover the majority of language learners.
As for the language instruction books I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many languages are available but with over 900 titles to choose from I would imagine that the selection offers something for most learners. These titles even include Pimsleur and Michel Thomas programs.
You can check out this link to take a peek before committing to anything. I’m confident you’ll find something there to pique your interest.
It’s free, for minimal effort.
Technically Audible is a paid monthly subscription. It costs $14.99 USD per month and you receive one book of your choosing each month. There is also a 2 book per month plan that costs $22.99. Even with these monthly prices when you take into consideration the cost of buying books individually (which you can also do, even without a subscription) you end up saving a lot of money.
However! When you sign up for an Audible account you are given a 1 month free trial that also includes two free books of your choosing. You can cancel your subscription before you’re ever charged a cent and make off like a bandit with your two free audio books – some of which retail for hefty prices.
Furthermore just by signing up for the free 1 month trial, I earn a $5 bounty, which is awesome for me and costs you nothing at all except a few minutes of your time. You get to feel good about helping keep LATG afloat while you vegetate with your brand new free language books.
You can cancel your trial or membership at any time and keep your free or paid books forever, no strings attached. You can cancel immediately after snagging your freebies. There’s pretty much no reason not to do it.
The one downside:
You still have to enter your credit card info, and if it isn’t your intention to keep your subscription you need to remember to cancel within 30 days. You can cancel immediately if you like. You won’t be charged anything until the 1 month trial is over, so you have some time to make a decision, but some people are turned off by having to do this at all. Just a heads up. I still think it’s worth it.
How to cancel an Audible account
I include this because Audible obviously doesn’t want you to unsubscribe and I had a fun little Easter egg hunt for this myself when I did my own trial.
If you aren’t interested in paying for a continued membership at a rate of $15 per month after the trial period ends, you can cancel your subscription immediately after downloading your two free books.
However, Amazon is sneaky and lots of people seem to get frustrated with this part, which is probably what they’re hoping for.
In order to unsubscribe you have to go into your Audible account at audible.com. Log in with your account info and click “cancel my account”. It should be over on the left side. It’s small, naturally.
It’ll give you the usual garbage about continuing your subscription, ask you if you’re certain, express a sad sentiment, and then graciously tell you to come back soon.
That’s it, you’re done. You have successfully unsubscribed from Audible and made off like a bandit with your two free language audiobooks!
Audible is a really great, affordable (free, even) source of audio books for you to add to your language learning toolkit.
When I signed up for my own subscription the books I chose were the original French edition of 20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Michel Thomas’s French Lesson 1. For about 5 minutes of my time I snagged two free audio books.
Why wouldn’t you?
You can check out and sign up for audible’s free trial program here.
And in other countries:
Languages Around the Globe will always be free. However there are expenses with keeping a website up and running and devoting time and energy to provide you with more, high quality content. LATG is supported by Patreon. Click below to become a patron and earn some cool stuff for your generosity. We’re currently working to make the website advertisement free for your convenience!