According to a Harvard Medical School study, the average American spends about 101 minutes a day driving. That is over 600 hours a year! In our daily lives, we also spend a lot of time walking, cleaning, cooking, and doing things that don’t require much concentration on the task at hand. This can easily add up to 20 hours a week available for some form of audio learning, without changing anything to your current schedule.
The benefits you can get from audio is impressive. There are a number of things you can listen to; audio books, podcasts or even the audio from movies and television. Just make sure to choose material appropriate for your current skill level. The amount of attention and focus dedicated to the audio material can be divided in two main categories: passive listening, which is the action of listening to something without paying constant attention to it; and active listening, which is the action of engaging, focusing and interacting with the audio material. In this post, we will talk about some ways you can use the many hours available to you for language-learning purposes using passive listening.
Passive listening in language learning is a controversial subject. In a research done by Victoria University in New Zealand, PhD graduate Paul Sulzberger discovered that the best way to learn is to be frequently exposed to the sound patterns in the language. It has been shown that it can be effective to simply listen to the language for your brain to get used to the sounds and particularities, even if you have no idea what it all means.
Now, many language teachers and some of the greatest polyglots out there completely disagree with this research and think that passive listening is a waste of time. As weird as it may sound, we believe both may be right here. Using passive listening only would definitely be a huge mistake. We can say with 99% certainty that you will need many hours of passive listening to get the benefits of a single hour of active learning; active learning is certainly more effective than passive learning.
But let’s say you’re listening to the language while doing something else, like cleaning your house. You would have to spend that time cleaning your house anyway, you are therefore not actually wasting time, but maximizing it. You are not actively learning, but your brain is getting used to the sound patterns of the language nonetheless. We believe that in order to be successful in language learning, you should include the language in your life in any way you can. Including passive listening in your daily life is just one way to do so. Passive listening will most likely benefit you in the long run, without putting much effort into it. The passive material goes somewhere in the back of your brain, in your unconscious mind. This may eventually help with active learning. When you are having a conversation, the information could be easier to access if you have done a lot of passive listening. It should, at the very least, increase your passion for the language by making it part of your life.
Another thing to consider with passive listening is that it is very rarely 100% passive. It is very hard to completely ignore what is going on in the background and you will occasionally shift your attention. Passive listening will occasionally change to active listening for a short period of time. This is where you will reap the most benefits. Think of passive listening as giving a little extra boost to your language-learning routine. Use this method if it fits your lifestyle, but also remember to focus most of your free language-learning time on active learning methods with Ouino or other resources.
Some people also believe that you can learn while sleeping. Here at Ouino, we just loved that concept! What a great way to maximize your time! Yeah… not really. Unfortunately, our experiment with this was very deceiving. But even if it doesn’t work for us, it doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. It surely can’t make you worst at the language, unless it keeps you from sleeping of course. But you will most likely benefit more from a good night’s sleep to rest your brain from what you learned in the previous day and be ready for the next. You likely won’t learn much while you’re in dreamland.
Understandably, everyone is looking for that effortless way of learning a new language. Passive listening is certainly effortless, but its effectiveness can be seriously questioned. However, we believe that passive learning can be used as a great addition to active learning, but it is important to remember that it’s simply an addition. The real language-learning solution is to find a way to make active learning enjoyable. Having fun while actively learning your new language is a surefire way to guarantee success, but the effortless background language learning method can certainly be a nice bonus to your language-learning routine.
If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it with your friends by using one the social links below. If you are looking for a language-learning method for active learning, check out our website at Ouino.com. Thanks a lot! Until next time!
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