I recently purchased an audiobook on the site Febe. It is called 「自分を操る超集中力」by Mentalist DaiGo and published by かんき出版. I didn’t buy it for its contents but because it seemed relatively simple to understand when I listened to the free extract on the site.
But then, I had to admit that it was not that simple. I could understand thoroughly what the author was talking about and could even catch entire sentences but it was not enough to follow the flow of what was being said. I decided to buy the book, too, to be able to check what I don’t understand.
I already wrote a post about how to study with an audiobook but I realize that even without doing specific exercises, reading while listening helps improving both listening and reading skills.
If you read your book while listening to it, you have to follow the pace of the narrator, which, in my case, is quicker than my reading pace. It forces me to read faster. I never truly took my reading pace in consideration before, but I realize that 1- it is too slow (Ah! that’s why I can hardly finish the reading part of the JLPT! 😮), and 2- that I can work on it to speed it up.
I have already read and listened to the first chapter of my book, and I already feel an improvement. At the beginning, I often had to stop the audio in order to re-read slowly the part I had just listened to while my eyes were hastily trying to catch up with the narrator’s pace. The result was that I didn’t understand what I read. Even if I knew all the words and grammar, my brain was too slow to convert it into meaning. Now that I am reading the second chapter, I almost never have to stop the audio. It only happens when too much unknown words slow the understanding.
For now, I can’t think of another easy way to read faster. Of course, one could time oneself while reading and try to read faster. But I think that being forced to follow a given pace (which is, in fact, a natural reading pace) is an easy and pleasant way to read faster without much efforts.
As for listening skills, reading a book while listening to the audiobook has the first benefit that you can see what you understand the better: what you read or what you listen to. In my case, it is obviously what I read. When I first listened to the audiobook only, I couldn’t really enjoy what was being said because I understood too little of it. When I read the book, I was baffled to realize that I understood almost everything. So, the problem was not the difficulty of the material but the fact that I don’t recognize words that I know when I hear them. The gap between my reading and listening comprehension is huge…
If you have the same problem, listening to the audiobook while reading obviously helps connecting words with sounds. Even if you don’t do actively listening exercises, the brain does make connections. For example, if a word appears that you know but would not have recognized if you had only heard it, the process of hearing the word and reading it at the same time helps your brain connect the sound to a meaning (and not just a written word or kanji to a meaning). If you encounter this word later, it would be easier to recognize it.
That is why it is always better to pronounce a new word when learning it or studying it in Anki. But somehow, hearing the word in the audiobook is much more efficient than hearing it in Anki with the Awesome TTS plugin. I am not a brain specialist, but I can easily imagine that my brain is only requesting little energy and concentration when I am studying words. On the contrary, to understand a book while listening to it, to keep the pace, deal quickly with unknown words and so on, my brain is fully working and I am at the top of my concentration. With mental faculties working like crazy, every new connection made between a meaning and a sound are much more likely to be assimilated than when I am dozing before my Anki deck. To make a comparison, if you want to have a soup made of vegetables, you are much more likely to obtain a result if you put your ingredients on a kitchen table when cooks are already working hard to put ingredients together, than if you put it when only a student doing a summer job is washing dishes at the back.
About the book
I usually don’t read self-development books but it is a good choice to study Japanese. I like the structure of the book, it is divided into very short parts that makes it pleasant to study. Important parts are underlined, drawings are present, too. The author seems to be directly speaking to us, mentioning is own experience. I think that this casual way of speaking makes the book easier to understand.
The audiobook is of excellent quality.
As for the contents, the book teaches you how to improve your concentration. It insists on the fact that concentration is not an inborn gift that you have or don’t have, but something that can be trained. It gives tips to control feelings of fatigue and set a better environment for concentration.