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Listening vs. Reading: Which Is More Effective for Studying in 2024?

Christopher Nguyen
Christopher Nguyen
Posted in Zoom Sep 7 · 8 Sep, 2022
Listening vs. Reading: Which Is More Effective for Studying in 2024?

Some people prefer reading textbooks to recall all the information they want to study. On the other hand, others can effectively learn when they listen to lectures or podcasts. Your preference will depend on different factors, including availability or convenience. Even so, no one can stop people from debating which is better between listening vs. reading.

Which Is More Effective for Remembering and Studying?

You may prefer one style over the other, but there’s an exact science that determines which is ideal for studying and remembering. However, keep in mind that factors like learning disabilities and individual preferences can play a role. 

Now, depending on how people consume information, comprehension may also differ. Transcriptionists are a great example here. For them to convert audio recordings into text, they need at least above-average listening skills. Otherwise, they won’t be able to transcribe law enforcement interviews or legal depositions accurately.

You should also know that there are vast differences between listening vs. reading when you’re doing it for learning vs. pleasure. We’ll discuss the details below.

1. Audiobooks vs. Traditional Textbooks: Which Is Better?

Before, people consume information by reading. However, technology has provided different channels for distributing information. Many even see a future where people would prefer listening over reading when studying.

Naturally, educators and professionals are raising concerns about whether listening vs. reading can be more efficient in recalling. Would audiobooks be a better approach for new hires to gain industry knowledge or job skills? Some are even surprised that libraries still exist despite the rise of digital communication channels.

The Complexity of the Topic Matters

It’s more convenient and effortless to listen to an audiobook. However, University of California professor Matthew Traxier says that depending on the person, reading can be just as effective. It’s worth noting that your brain processes will be affected by the complexity of the topic you are consuming.

Let’s say you’re reading light topics like entertainment news. In this case, your brain won’t work so hard to comprehend information. Now, the more complex the topic becomes, the more effort you put into the process. Naturally, when you’re comparing listening vs. reading, the latter is more effective in this case. 

With a book, you can take a pause, contemplate the information you read, then quickly go back to what you were doing. On the other hand, with an audiobook, pausing, rewinding, and playing can be inconvenient. The process may even distract you from the information you want to learn. It gets even more challenging when you’re watching a live stream where you have no control over the audio. In this case, you’ll have to go back to your notes to review what you heard.

2. The Science Behind Listening vs. Reading

When comparing listening vs. reading, you need to understand how your mind works. The way your brain processes information will be different when you gather it through auditory or visual methods. Educators and scientists have studied whether people acquire their learning preferences when they’re young. If this is the case, can an individual’s comprehension ability become affected by being exposed to other methods of learning?

According to different studies, people can have preferences for consuming information. However, most individuals can learn by either listening or reading. A 2016 study found that people can recall information regardless of whether they read the material or listened to an audiobook. Even Indiana University professor Polly Husmann has conducted listening vs. reading research to prove that students do not learn, using a single method.

Husmann’s team surveyed students and asked them their learning preferences. The research revealed that the method these individuals used for learning is usually not the approach they prefer. Now, even if they didn’t use other learning methods, their test scores weren’t affected as much.

3. How Modern Classrooms Shape the Way Students Learn

In face-to-face classes, students have the advantage of interacting with their instructor. There’s more freedom in asking questions and clarifying reading materials. However, because of the pandemic, many college campuses were forced to move their classes online. While many found the shift quite challenging, students had access to more flexible options for learning.

Both traditional and online classrooms require students to rely on their writing and listening abilities, especially when the lecture is live. However, if the classes are recorded, individuals can review the materials and lessons at their own pace. With transcripts of virtual classes, students will have the option between reading their lessons or listening to the lectures. By working at their own speed and choosing their preferred learning method, they can comprehend the topics better.

So, it’s best for educational institutions to get work with professional transcriptionists. This way, they can manage the accompanying materials for virtual classes and provide better learning options for students.

4. Is Reading Faster than Learning?

listening vs. reading

While there’s an ongoing debate about listening vs. reading memory efficiency, there’s a definite answer when we’re talking about speed. Studies have proven that it’s faster to read than to listen.

Various sources say that the average adult can read around 250 to 300 every minute. Meanwhile, for high comprehension, the recommended speed for talking is around 150 to 160 words per minute. It’s worth noting that the average speaking rate of auctioneers is 250 per minute. That’s practically the same speed as reading.

However, not everyone wants to speak as fast as an auctioneer. Thankfully, transcription services can turn audio recordings into text. So, if you need to review what an auctioneer is saying, you can simply read the transcript.

How Transcripts Make Learning Faster

Businesses and universities can benefit from transcription services. By having transcripts, students and employees can have more options for learning. As a result, they can boost their learning efficiency, comprehension, and retention.

Indeed, individuals can take different approaches in understanding a concept. They shouldn’t be limited to using their listening skills alone. What’s great about transcription services is they’re available for various uses, including for business meetings, class lectures, conferences, and focus group discussions. Whether you have an audio or video recording, you can convert the file into a transcript.

So, if you want your students or employees to have access to tools that will help them learn better, turn to GoTranscript. With 100% human-generated transcripts, you can expect professional and accurate results.