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4 Powerful Pros and 4 Cons of Immersion Reading

Immersion Reading

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Reading While Listening – Why It Can Be a Game-Changer or a Hassle

In today’s fast-paced world, finding time to read can be challenging. Fortunately, we have immersion reading, the combination of reading and listening to audiobooks to enhance the reading experience. It offers a range of benefits but also comes with its own set of drawbacks. In this blog post, we’ll explore both the pros and cons to help you decide if this method is right for you.



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Benefits of Immersion Reading

Enhanced Comprehension and Retention

Enhanced Comprehension and RetentionMulti-Sensory Learning: By engaging both your visual and auditory senses, you reinforce the material, making it easier to comprehend and retain information. This is especially beneficial for complex texts.

Improved Focus: Listening while reading can help maintain your concentration, especially if you tend to get distracted easily.

Take a look at this study, which found that combining visual and auditory aids significantly enhanced reading fluency and comprehension among English language learners, suggesting that multi-sensory approaches like immersion reading can improve overall learning outcomes. The Effect of Video- and Audio-Assisted Reading on Saudi EFL Learners’ Reading Fluency and Comprehension.

Based on my experience, I read and listened to The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. The book was first introduced to me at John Jay College in my last semester. The book didn’t have difficult language. In fact, high schoolers could read this book at ease. My issue was being overwhelmed with ADHD.

Keep in mind that I’m not using ADHD as an excuse and giving up. ADHD for me has gotten much more serious these days and I am currently medicated for it. If you believe you have symptoms of ADHD, I highly recommend seeing a therapist first before making any decisions on what you have and don’t have. It’s possible that it could be something underlying that needs to be addressed.

With reading, it was getting more difficult for me as it was hard for me to retain and imagine the story on my own. But when someone is reading it to me as I go along, I tend to have the story well played in my mind, like a movie. I was able to understand the story better. It’s easier for me to take notes on the side, and if I need to, I’ll pause and reread something I feel needs to be noted.

Whenever my professor at the time gave us a quiz on that story, I was able to answer all the questions without a problem.

Better Pronunciation and Fluency

Better Pronunciation and FluencyCorrect Pronunciation: Hearing the correct pronunciation of words, especially those that are difficult or unfamiliar, can improve your spoken language skills.

Natural Pacing: Audiobooks can help you develop a better sense of the natural rhythm and pacing of the language, enhancing your fluency.

Take a look at this research, which highlights how audio-assisted reading, such as through audiobooks, helps learners improve their pronunciation and fluency by providing correct pronunciation and aiding in the natural pacing of the language. Effects of Audiobooks on EFL Learners’ Reading Development: Focus on Fluency and Motivation

Immersion reading expanded my vocabulary significantly and helped me to be more well read. Some words from books that were published early 20th century had some words I recall I couldn’t pronounce. Normally, if it’s a word I can’t pronounce, it’s usually a word I don’t know the meaning. I’ll pause the audiobook and look up the said word, practice with it by using it in a sentence and throw it in a conversation if the opportunity presents itself.


Chimera (pronounced \kī-ˈmir-ə) – Often found in works like The Iliad by Homer.

Chthonic (pronounced \ˈthä-nik) – Found in works referencing Greek mythology, such as Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus.

Ethereal (pronounced \i-ˈthir-ē-əl) – Used in works like Paradise Lost by John Milton.

Overall, immersion reading has influenced my fluency in the English language and my reading speed. I haven’t increased the speed in the audiobook, as I like taking my time to read and grasp the imagery. When I was much younger, my reading speed and articulation of reading were at a higher level. I enjoyed reading as long as it was out loud. Even now, if I were to read the book out loud, I would enjoy it more. There is something about hearing yourself read enhances the imagery being played in your head. This is also good advice when writing and reading your own work, as you can hear your mistakes.

Increased Engagement and Enjoyment

Increased Engagement and EnjoymentNarrative Performance: A good narrator can bring characters to life and add emotional depth to the story, making the reading experience more enjoyable.

Immersive Experience: Combining reading and listening can create a more immersive experience, drawing you deeper into the story.

Check out this article which highlights how audiobooks can significantly enhance engagement and enjoyment in reading, especially for individuals with dyslexia. Audiobooks provide an accessible way for dyslexic readers to enjoy books, maintaining their interest and motivation by allowing them to access texts that match their spoken language comprehension level. This engagement with high-interest material can foster a love for reading and support continued language development. Keep Em Reading: The Importance of Audiobooks for Dyslexics

Reading Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood was one of the darkest reads I ever got my hands on. (I’m sure there is much worse out there.) However, I thoroughly enjoyed the audiobook while reading this book, that I almost missed my train stop. I was able to get through the first half of the book that day. The narrator made it entertaining despite how dark the book was. The narrator’s performance added emotional depth, making characters more relatable and the story more immersive.

Accessibility and Convenience

Accessibility and ConvenienceFlexible Options: Whether you’re commuting, exercising, or doing household chores, you can switch between reading and listening based on your situation.

Aid for Learning Disabilities: For individuals with dyslexia or other reading difficulties, immersion reading can provide additional support and make reading more accessible.

Take a look at this study, which highlights how digital reading tools enhance accessibility and convenience for higher-education students. The integration of digital platforms for academic reading has been shown to improve students’ engagement and comprehension, making reading more flexible and accessible in various contexts. Extending Technology Acceptance Model to higher-education students’ use of digital academic reading tools on computers.

For sure, audiobooks are convenient during certain circumstances. My preferred method is to read and listen at the same time. But when it comes to getting a book done at a certain time, then whenever I run errands or walk the dogs, I’ll have the audiobook on. I listen to it like I’m listening to interviews. I have the story played out in my year and my imagination continues to play it like a movie.

Reason why I prefer reading together with the audiobook is because I can retain information better. This goes the same when reading the closed captions of a movie I’m watching. I tend to remember most of the scenes by remembering the dialogue I read.

Audiobooks do make things easier for me in general. I have it accessible on me on apps such as Audible and Spotify. They’re both great platforms that have an excellent library of audiobooks.

This is the new age where we’re sort of in a rush and don’t have time to sit there and read, but instead can listen as we keep ourselves busy with other things. But if you’re multitasking while having an audiobook on, there is a chance you won’t retain information well when you’re not fully focused on it. At least it’s convenient.

Drawbacks of Immersion Reading

While immersion reading offers many benefits, it also has its drawbacks. One significant issue is the potential for distraction. According to an article from Time Magazine, listening to audiobooks can lead to divided attention, especially when multitasking. This distraction can hinder comprehension and retention, as the brain struggles to process both the audio and the task at hand.

In this Time Magazine article, Are Audiobooks As Good For You As Reading? Here’s What Experts Say, Markham Heid points out that audiobooks can sometimes make it harder to remember details compared to reading, as the act of reading requires more cognitive engagement. Additionally, poor narration quality or background noise can disrupt the immersive experience, making it challenging to focus on the story.

Here are other potential drawbacks:

Increased Cost of Audiobooks

Increased Cost of AudiobooksPurchasing Both Formats: Buying both the print/eBook and audiobook versions of a book can be expensive, which might not be feasible for all readers.

Of course, when having both book and audiobook, it can be costly. It always depends on your financial situation if you can afford to do so. However, there are YouTube videos which are free that have people providing audiobooks. I have done that with The Things They Carried since during the time I read it, Spotify didn’t have audiobooks yet.

However, when it comes to certain books to read, I’m starting to only read books that are in similar in themes with a current book I am writing. I’ll go through a list of recommended books that fit with what I’m writing about and purchase those. This is my investment in building influence with my stories. It is almost rare for me these days to read a story that has nothing to do with what I’m writing only because it is very distracting. I try to keep my mind stuck on these themes when I write. Although, I should diversify more.

Potential for Distraction

Potential for DistractionDivided Attention: Some people might find it difficult to focus on both the text and the audio simultaneously, leading to distraction rather than enhanced comprehension.

Audio Quality: Poor narration or background noise in the audiobook can be distracting and detract from the reading experience.

Staying in Sync: Keeping the text and audio synchronized can be challenging, especially if you frequently switch between devices or reading sessions.

Technical Glitches: There may be occasional technical issues with the audiobook app or eReader, causing frustration.

During immersion reading, there were moments of distraction when the audio didn’t match the text I was reading. This happens rarely, but when it does, I notice it and have to pause it and go back, thinking I misheard the audio. It’s a slight distraction, but it does ruin the flow of the narration of the story. Only for a moment, then back in the rhythm.

One annoying or cringe worthy narration is when the narrator tries too hard to change accents when reading dialogue. The narrator doesn’t have to exaggerate with the accent, only a slight where it’s not as distracting and, at times, comical. Especially if the story is serious, it will kind of ruin the mood.

Sometimes there are moments when there is a hazy sound in the background of the narration like wind is blowing or a buzz. Sometimes the audio’s volume readjusts or when the quality of the speaker lessens. This usually occurs on YouTube mainly.

The only time when I find a synchronization issue is when I lose my place in the text as the narrator continues reading. I even experienced this during my college days when students are reading aloud. This is probably when my mind randomly drifts off to another world for some reason.

I try my best to keep all distractions away from me such as my phone at a distance where I can’t see it or reach for it, laptop is shut, and in a quiet space with just me and the book. This is the only way I can get the full experience and others will benefit from it as well.

Preference for One Format

Preference for One FormatPersonal Preference: Some readers might find they prefer one format over the other. For instance, visual learners might find the audio component unnecessary, while auditory learners might find reading along distracting.

I stumbled upon immersion reading by accident. When I was scrolling through audiobooks on YouTube, I bumped into a book I was reading for the same class in John Jay College, Beloved by Toni Morrison. I couldn’t read that book properly as it was very confusing and thought my ADHD had gotten the best of me. I couldn’t imagine the story properly until the third chapter, when the setting was more present.

Don’t get me wrong, Toni Morrison is an amazing writer and deserves all the credit. When I read and listened to Beloved a second time for another class, I finally understood the story and found it enjoyable. The combination of reading and listening revealed the story’s beauty and depth. This method not only clarified the narrative, but also enhanced my appreciation for Morrison’s work.

Availability of Audiobooks

Availability of AudiobooksLimited Selection: Not all books have audiobook versions available. This can be especially true for less popular titles, older books, or those from smaller publishers. If you prefer immersion reading, you might find your options limited by the availability of audiobooks.

There are some books and stories that don’t have an audiobook. If it’s a story that will have an influence and inspire a current story I am writing, I will read the story aloud to myself. However, it has to be in a room where I have privacy and everyone else in the household cannot hear me out of respect for them.

It doesn’t happen often as these days most of the stories I’m recommended to read have audiobooks thankfully. I can still read the text if the audiobook is not available, I’m not illiterate. It’s just a preference to retain information better.

My suggestions for platforms with a large library of audiobooks are Spotify and Audible.

Final Thoughts

Engaging in immersion reading can greatly enhance your reading experience, providing advantages like better understanding, pronunciation, involvement, and accessibility. It’s important to consider the drawbacks, such as increased cost and potential distractions. Ultimately, deciding if immersion reading is suitable for you will depend on your unique learning style and reading objectives. If you haven’t tried it yet, consider experimenting with a few books to see how this method works for you. Reading and listening together can take your literary journey to a whole new level.