Category Archives: Reading List

Audiobooks: The Underrated English Learning Tool

By Scott Carpenter

As we all know, free audiobooks and ebooks are great for entertainment, but one of the most underrated uses of these free resources is language learning. Picking up a new language is always tough, but the English language is particularly troublesome for English as a second language students. Our strange grammar rules and seemingly incomprehensible spelling rules can throw even the most seasoned veteran for a loop.

I am a graduate English literature student with many years of intensive study under my belt and I still struggle with these aspects of the English language on a regular basis. I also work in international education and work with students who are applying to U.S. universities from abroad and one of the major barriers holding them back from furthering their studies within the U.S. is the strict English proficiency requirement that many schools enforce.

Students must test high in areas such as reading, speaking, and writing in English. I see students every day who are studying English and are worried that they will not score high enough on English exams to be admitted to the universities they have traveled so far to attend. It is important for students who are studying English as a second language to get as much practice with the language outside of their classrooms as they can, and one way that can greatly increase a student’s comprehension of the English language is to listen to an audiobook being narrated to them while following along by either reading the same ebook or checking out the novel through their local library. Being able to see the words on the page and listen to their pronunciation at the same time is invaluable.

It is very important for students studying English to hear the English language spoken properly in order for them to make the contextual connections necessary to gain a full understanding of what is being spoken or read. Trying to just read a book by itself can be confusing as students struggle to sound out the word correctly and just being able to hear the words being read to them can help to eliminate the fears that they may be pronouncing the word incorrectly and increase their confidence in using the language properly. Listening to audiobooks while reading along can greatly increase a student’s vocabulary and comprehension thus allowing them to unlock their growing potential to fully grasp the English language.

Below I have listed a few audiobooks that can be found on this site that I believe would work well for anyone who is looking to increase their English language skills.

1)      The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald

2)      Grimm’s Fairy Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

3)      The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

4)      12 Creepy Tales by Edgar Allan Poe

5)      The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

6)      A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

7)      The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde

8)      The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

9)      White Fang by Jack London

10)   The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Suggested Reading list for Victorian Detective Fiction

If you are a reader who loves suspense, mystery, action, and heroism in your novels, look no further to get your fix! Victorian readers were the first to be introduced to the Sensation novel and the Detective novels that have influenced pop culture for the last 150+ years. Everyone has heard of the eccentric detective, Sherlock Holmes, and his exploits with the famed Dr. Watson, but the Sherlock Holmes stories only scratch the surface of the early detective fiction. Below we have put together a short list of public domain novels, novellas, and short stories for the eager fans of detective fiction to get their hands on.
First, we will begin with a couple of the Sherlock Holmes stories that are considered must-reads:

1) A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes)

2) The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

We jump across the pond from Victorian England to an American writer for our next suggestion:

3) Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe – This story is often considered the first Detective fiction narrative to arrive on the scene. This short, gruesome story will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

Next we will suggest a couple more precursors to the ever-popular Sherlock Holmes stories:

4) Bleak House by Charles Dickens featuring the indefatigable Inspector Bucket.

5) The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins – An ill-gotten Indian diamond leaves turmoil, bad luck, and general misery in its wake. The diamond is stolen from a young woman, and it takes an extensive group effort to reveal the culprits.

6) The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. – This is not technically a detective story, but it was the exciting introduction of the Sensation novel that involves amateur detective work by a group of friends to uncover a sinister plot set in place by a couple of devious villains.

7) Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon. Another sensation novel revolving around Lady Audley who we come to find has a mysterious and complicated past that has come back to confront her. It is up to the amateur detective, Robert Audley, to uncover the truth.

These novels and stories should keep even the most voracious detective hound sated for a while. If anyone has any favorite Victorian era detective or sensation novels that they would like added to this list, let us know!