Language Learning Methods - Book/Audio Combo

Of all the different kinds of language learning methods, the book and audio combination is the most common and versatile. It usually combines the structured lessons of a coursebook with the all-important audio component. While some methods use the older grammar-heavy approach, some newer methods use the more modern immersion approach. Let's look at the advantages and disadvantages of this format and see why it is so common today.


Convenience. You can take this method with you wherever you go, and because you have both written and audio components, you really have some flexibility. That means you can use the book when you have some free time, or you can use the audio portion while driving etc. You have more options to get in some language study on your time.

Written work and audio. Having both a book component and the important audio component means your language study won't be terribly deficient in some areas, unlike if you only have a written portion and no audio, let's say. Your pronunciation and accent will be better than if you only had a pronunciation guide of a book to go on, you'll have less difficulty understanding the language when you hear it in real life, and you'll have some experience working with the written language. All in all a much more well-rounded approach.


Little bit of everything, not a lot of anything. Unfortunately, a language learning method like this usually won't specialize in any one aspect of the language. You'll get a good grounding in grammar, some vocabulary, some exercises, some pronunciation practice, maybe some conversation practice etc. But you won't get a lot of any one aspect of the language. So, unless the method is absolutely huge (and probably expensive), you will still need additional materials to advance further in any, or all, areas of the language.

I believe that the combination of text and audio makes this combination the best kind of language learning method, but that more materials will be needed to further advance in the language. Go to the Language Learning Tips Page to find more language learning tips and tools that you can use to advance in your chosen language.

Recommended Book and Audio Language Learning Methods

Living Language Basic Complete. These inexpensive, yet excellent, little packages usually come bundled with a coursebook, dictionary and two cassettes or cd's of audio. They are a great introductory course, inexpensive and easy to find in bookstores or online.

Living Language Ultimate. This is an even better package than the Living Language basic set, although more expensive. It comes with a coursebook, a cd set and another set of cd's to use away from the book, which is an excellent addition. Unfortunately they are only available for a few languages.

Teach Yourself. The Teach Yourself series is an immersion-style method with a coursebook and two cassettes or cd's. They are inexpensive, readily available, and come in a much wider variety of languages than the Living Language series.

FSI. The FSI programs are by all accounts an excellent language learning method. However, they are old, out-of-date, and very expensive. The only one that I know of that has been re-done is the FSI Platiquemos version for learning Spanish.

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"After all, when you come right down to it, how many people speak the same language even when they speak the same language?"

- Russell Hoban