Back in the old days they were called “books-on-tape”. Back then, of course, we didn’t even have CDs never mind streaming services. These days, they have a much better name; audiobooks.
An audiobook gives you the ability to read a book by, well, listening to it. It’s kind of like when you were a kid and a teacher or parent read to you. You’ll be able to learn new things, get lost in an enchanting story, and experience ideas you were never aware of. Listening to audiobooks when you’re passing time will be a mind enriching experience.
Turns out, they’re also a great way to achieve some auditory training.
Auditory training – what is it?
Hold on, what’s this auditory training thing, you ask? It sounds complicated and an awful lot like school.
Auditory training is a specialized type of listening, created to help you enhance your ability to process, comprehend, and interpret sounds (known medically as “auditory information”). One of the primary uses of auditory training is to help people learn to hear with their new hearing aids.
That’s because when you have neglected hearing loss, your brain can gradually grow out of practice. (Your auditory centers become used to living in a quieter environment.) So your brain will need to cope with a huge increase of new auditory signals when you get new hearing aids. In practice, this often means that your brain can’t process those sounds as well as it generally does (at least, not initially). Auditory training can be a practical tool to help handle this. (As a side note, auditory training is also helpful for people who have language learning difficulties or auditory processing disorders).
Another perspective: It’s not so much that audiobooks can improve your hearing, it’s that they can help you better distinguish what you hear.
What happens when I listen to audiobooks?
Auditory training was created to help your brain get used to making sense out of sounds again. People have a pretty complex relationship with noise if you really think about it. Every sound means something. Your brain needs to do a lot of work. The idea is that audiobooks are a great way to help your brain get accustomed to that process again, especially if you’re breaking in a new set of hearing aids.
Audiobooks can help with your auditory training in various different ways, including the following:
- Perception of speech: When you listen to an audiobook, you get real-time practice comprehending someone else’s speech. But you also have a little more control than you would during a regular old conversation. You can rewind if you can’t understand something and listen to something as many times as you want to. This works really well for practicing following words.
- Improvements of focus: You’ll be able to focus your attention longer, with some help from your audiobook pals. Maybe it’s been some time since you’ve been able to engage in a complete conversation, particularly if you’re getting used to a new set of hearing aids. An audiobook can give you some practice in staying focused and tuned in.
- A bigger vocabulary: Who doesn’t want to improve their vocabulary? Your vocabulary will get stronger as you’re exposed to more words. Surprise your friends by using amazingly apt words. Perhaps that guy standing outside the bar looks innocuous, or your food at that restaurant is sumptuous. With audiobooks, you’ll have just the right words ready for any situation.
- Improvements in pronunciation: Sometimes, it’s not only the hearing part that can need some practice. Those who suffer with hearing loss frequently also suffer from social isolation, and that can leave their communication skills a bit rusty. Audiobooks can make communication a lot easier by helping you get a grip on pronunciation.
- Listening comprehension: It’s one thing to perceive speech, it’s another to understand it! When you follow the story that the narrator is reading, you will get practice distinguishing speech. Your brain needs practice joining words to concepts, and helping those concepts stay rooted in your mind. In your daily life, this will help you distinguish what people are saying to you.
Audiobooks as auditory aids
Reading along with a physical copy of your audiobook is highly advisable. Your brain will adjust faster to new audio inputs making those linguistic links more robust. It’s definitely a beneficial way to enhance your auditory training experience. Because hearing aids are complemented by audiobooks.
Audiobooks are also good because they are pretty easy to get these days. There’s an app called Audible which you can get a subscription to. A wide variety of online vendors sell them, and that includes Amazon. And you can listen to them anywhere on your phone.
And there are also podcasts on nearly every topic in case you can’t find an audiobook you want to listen to. You can improve your hearing and improve your mind at the same time!
Can I use my hearing aids to listen to audiobooks?
Bluetooth capability is a feature that comes with many contemporary hearing aids. Meaning, you can pair your hearing aids with your cellphone, your speakers, your tv, or any other Bluetooth-enabled device. This means you don’t have to place cumbersome headphones over your hearing aids just to play an audiobook. Rather, you can listen directly through your hearing aids.
You’ll now get better sound quality and increased convenience.
Ask us about how audiobooks can help with your auditory training
So if you believe your hearing might be on the way out, or you’re concerned about getting used to your hearing aids, consult us about audiobooks.