4 Common Language Learning SNAFUs and Their Audiobook Solutions

Learning a new language isn’t all wine and roses.

Like any other worthwhile endeavor, it has its challenges.

Often, it’s a stop-and-go adventure. There are times when you’re on a roll, just laying down words and phrases as if you were born into the language. Other days it’s a struggle to find the right verb tense. Three steps forward, two steps back.

We’ve all been there.

We get it. Really, we do.

Four major issues pose potential hazards on the road to successful language learning. They all present unique obstacles. Fortunately, audiobooks make it possible to blast through them in a way that’s individually tailored to your learning style.

The Most Common Language Learning Hang-ups

You’re probably already familiar with these sticky language learning situations.

Time crunch. Let’s face it, we’re all stretched thin, time-wise. Work, school, family, health and social obligations claim most of our waking hours. Throw in a second job or even a travel opportunity, and we’re toast.

Money pinch. Hey, who doesn’t feel that? Even if you’re doing well financially, you still may not want to spend extra money when you don’t have to.

Lackluster learning materials. There are times when language learning stalls because we tire of flashcards, repetition and the same old, same old. We need to step away and freshen up our minds by playing around with new methods before we can come back to the repetitive tasks that stick languages in our memories.

The dreaded, but almost-inevitable, plateau. It’s common—and not just with language learning. When a certain level of proficiency is achieved, learning stalls, leaving the pupil stranded on the plateau. Not the place anyone wants to park, is it?

What would you say if I were to tell you that foreign language audiobooks provide epic solutions for each of these issues? That’s right—each one!

I’ve got your attention now, don’t I?

Let me show you how to use them to your advantage—and solve all four of these learning problems.

Audiobook Solutions to 4 Common Language Learning Dilemmas

1. Never Be Pressed for Time

Feeling a big time squeeze? You’re not alone. We all feel that! This is a portable, on-the-go solution that makes any time the right time for language learning.

Foreign language audiobooks solve the can’t-find-time-to-learn issue. Throw a few into your insanely packed schedule and customize your learning. You’re in charge—decide where, when and what you want to hear.

Remember, you’re in charge. Got that?

One of the perks of foreign language audiobooks is they make practicing a new language almost as easy as catching a plane to somewhere exotic. On a plane or train? No problem, your audiobook is there with you. Adjust the headphones, press play and pick up where you left off.

Don’t be afraid to interact with the audiobook. If you’re prompted to reply, answer away! Talk out loud whenever, wherever. Believe me, it’s no big deal if you’re the only one who’s in on the whole conversation. Chances are, people around you are busy and won’t even notice. So talk—and if you make mistakes, that’s fine too. Audiobooks give you a chance to say, “hey, I missed that the first time around!” Back it up, listen again and nail it the second time.

No time to jet off to immerse yourself in a culture and surround yourself with native language speakers? No problem! Language audiobooks bring learning to you. Even China and the Chinese language aren’t far at all when you download, listen and learn.

2. Study on the Cheap

Language learning audiobooks are often free. And if they’re not completely free, they’re cheap.

Free and cheap? What’s not to love?

Remember when you got your first library card? I still have mine. The library is closed now, moved into a big, modern building, but the thrill that little card brought is one memory that will never fade.

Most places still have libraries, only now they’re filled with more than books. That’s right—your local library may be the foreign language audiobook jackpot you’re looking for. Grab your card and go browse the audio files, or request access to the library’s online resources. If you don’t have a card, that’s no biggie, either. It takes just a few minutes to get one. Chances are, you’ll find enough in the stacks to make your inquisitive foreign language seeking brain stand up and pay attention.

The New York Public Library has a virtual warehouse of foreign language learning audiobooks available to card holders. Even if your library isn’t massive like the one in NYC, most library systems share resources. Your library has access to much more than what’s on its shelves, so if you don’t see what you want, ask to have it ordered for you.

There’s no need to keep opening up your precious wallet when there are tons of free—absolutely free!—audiobooks up for grabs.

Studying French? Try Audiocité. Innovative Language can help learners of tons of different languages find great audiobook resources to start listening to. Can’t find what you’re looking for in your target language? Browse this list at Open Culture—I’m sure something will pop out at you!

3. Diversify

Foreign language audiobooks are made for many interests so there’s no reason to stay in a rut.

If you’re not excited by your current materials, prepare to be dazzled! There’s no end to the diversity of audiobook offerings.

There really is something for everyone. Don’t believe me? Check out the huge Spanish-language selection at AlbaLearning. German’s more your thing? Get your German on with Vorleser.

Every interest and every personality has options—and with a click or two of your mouse, you’ll find an array of foreign language audiobooks in your chosen language.

“The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is available in 253 languages. It has always been one of my favorite books, so every time I learn a new language I buy an audio copy in that language. The story is familiar and easy to follow, and even if I miss a word or two the first few times I hear the German “Der kleine Prinz,” Italian “Il Piccolo Principe” or Spanish “El Principito,” it’s still empowering to hear and learn with something dear to my heart.

4. Make It Personal

No matter where you are on your language learning journey, there are foreign language audiobooks to support your learning.

Choose an audiobook that’s perfectly suited to your current level so punching through the plateau is almost too easy.

Beginners benefit most from short stories or children’s favorites. Audiobooks.com has a huge selection!

Intermediate learners should choose audiobooks in foreign languages the way they choose books in their native tongue. Pick a book on Audible based on a hobby or fascinating topic, or learn something new while increasing your language skills!

At the intermediate level, it’s not a bad idea to pause an audiobook to check a dictionary for unfamiliar words. Write these words down with their definitions and usage as go you. A journal of new words increases vocabulary and hearing the words in context makes it a breeze to use them in dialogue later. A plus—the more foreign language audiobooks you listen to, the bigger your journal of new-to-you words becomes! Eventually these new words become part of your foreign language mindset and you’ll use them naturally.

Anyone at an advanced skill level can benefit greatly from using foreign language audiobooks. At this level, the need for a dictionary is minimal so whatever your listening pleasure may be—fiction, non-fiction, self-help or the current bestseller—it’s all comprehensible, and Amazon has you covered with a huge selection of audiobooks!

And you can always find engaging, personalized learning material on FluentU.

The focus is less on deciphering what’s being said or learning sentence structure and other fundamentals. Without all these concerns, there’s room to actually enjoy the audiobook. And we all know that liking what we’re learning makes for a less stressful learning experience, right?

This is the same reason why language learners can also benefit from listening to podcasts. They’re similar to audiobooks, and the topics are so varied that there are subjects for every skill level. At an advanced level there’s learning and listening for the sheer joy of it, because we’ve already done the hard work.


Learning isn’t all wine and roses, but sometimes there are indeed roses.

Foreign language audiobooks can be a language learner’s best friend. They can help banish time crunch, money pinch, lackluster materials and plateaus—four major language learning problems that most of us experience at one time or another.

Who knows? By the time you listen your way through an assortment of intriguing, mind-expanding audiobooks, you might be ready to grab your passport and try out your excellent language skills somewhere warm and exotic!

And One More Thing...

If you dig the idea of learning on your own time from the comfort of your smart device with real-life authentic language content, you'll love using FluentU.

With FluentU, you'll learn real languages—as they're spoken by native speakers. FluentU has a wide variety of videos as you can see here:

FluentU has interactive captions that let you tap on any word to see an image, definition, audio and useful examples. Now native language content is within reach with interactive transcripts.

Didn't catch something? Go back and listen again. Missed a word? Hover your mouse over the subtitles to instantly view definitions.

You can learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU's "learn mode." Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.

And FluentU always keeps track of vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You get a truly personalized experience.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store.

If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn languages with real-world videos.

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