October 24


5 things you should keep in mind with auditory language learning

By Laura Bacher

October 24, 2020

Self-study courses with audio courses and language courses with a high proportion of audition share are top-rated. Not least because you can play them comfortably on a smartphone. They can be used flexibly and enable learning on the side. On the way to work, while cooking or doing sports,  you can learn a new language. In this blog article, you can find out what you should bear in mind when learning languages with audio courses and the like.

The following is what you should keep in mind when learning languages with audiobooks, audio courses, and other audio recordings:

1. Native speakers are a must

Audiobooks or audio courses must be recorded by native speakers. Perfect mastery of the native language is crucial. Each language’s pronunciation is so multifaceted that it is almost impossible for non-native speakers to achieve a flawless accent. However, this is precisely the goal of every language exercise.

Incidentally, the voice transmits not only information but above all emotion – and it is this emotion that captivates the listener. Furthermore, the voice should sound pleasant and exciting. When the learner is working with spoken texts, the spoken word should not be boring or monotonous. Instead, it must sound so that the listener still finds what he hears interesting even after the twentieth repetition.

2. Pay attention to good sound

Fifty years ago, music still had a rich sound. Today, digital sound is compressed so much that it overwhelms the brain. During compression, sounds that do not influence the listener’s perception are removed. Consciously, you can hardly detect any difference. But you can’t fool your subconsciousness. MP3 music and mobile phone conversations become annoying. Listening on smartphones takes it to the extreme: the little wonder has reached a limit here. The built-in speakers are inefficient.

Do you know that? The telephone conference with your colleague from the USA is only a few minutes in progress, yet you are already unfocused and tired. Studies show that this is often due to low sound quality. When sounds are affected, it has a measurable effect on our brain. Even if we subjectively do not perceive the transmission as disturbed at all. Why is this so? When sound is low, almost all central areas of the brain must be active. The brain has to work harder if, for example, the person you are talking to is difficult to understand. It tries to close gaps caused by interference or compression of the sound signal. In the process, the synapses in the unconsciously activated brain fire more frequently. This process makes us tire more quickly and can even lead to stress.

3. Motivation is the be-all and end-all

An audio course lies patiently on the shelf. Unlike learning apps, you do not receive reminder emails or reward points for achieved goals. Therefore, we recommend that you think about concrete plans before you start learning: What do you want to achieve? By when do you want to accomplish this? You should also plan your learning units: When do you want to do them? Calendar apps, where you can enter your units or memo apps, where you can tick-off completed learning units. 

Remember: Your brain does not know a weekend. Of course, there are days when you are less motivated. But the important thing now is to stay on track. Perform at least one 10-minute unit daily. That way, you show your brain that you are staying on it and that more is coming.

4. Music supports language learning

Sounds and music inevitably arouse emotions: Think of shrill violin sounds that herald creepy horror movie scenes. Or the soft tones that underscore a romantic film. Sound effects are used for film music, for example. A famous example: the shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller “Psycho.”

Today we know that good music and a good sound of a voice reaches us emotionally. We prefer to listen. We are more concentrated and calmer. Use this effect also when learning languages!

Music can also help to put you in a receptive state. It is not so much the type of music that plays a role (the so-called “Mozart effect” could not be proven) but the personal effect on you. Use your favorite music to get in the right mood before learning or during learning for mental support. Above all, choose music that makes you happy and has a positive influence.

5. Repetition

Repetition is the basis of learning success. Practice makes perfect, so you should repeat everything at least three times. After 20 minutes, we forget 40 % of what we have learned. After one hour, we already forget half of it (based on Hermann Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve).

Tip: If you have already heard a text for a few days (preferably day and night), try to speak it yourself. A very suitable exercise for this is choir speaking. Let the recording run and talk “in a choir.” Alternatively, you can speak “in echo,” i.e., at a very short distance from the original speaker. When you speak along and repeat, your brain automatically compares the native speaker’s pronunciation with yours and can almost completely compensate for the differences, entirely automatically. The more often you do the exercise, the better your pronunciation will be, and the more likely you are to avoid a “foreigner accent.” If perfect pronunciation is your primary goal, then you should do this exercise more often.

Finally, one last tip: Don’t let it get you down! Especially in the beginning, you may sometimes hardly understand a thing. If necessary, read the translation of the text, which is usually supplied with the audio course. The rest will come naturally through ongoing repetition.

Are you familiar with the brain-friendly language courses?

With the brain-friendly MOVIEĀ© courses, you can immerse yourself in a TV series and learn a foreign language on the side. You can use the brain-friendly language courses online via streaming. Whether at home on the PC, on the train, or during sports: our language courses are the perfect method to learn a foreign language intuitively and brain-friendly - wherever and whenever you want.

Laura Bacher

About the author

Laura has been a big fan of foreign languages since her childhood. She grew up bilingual - English and German - and through international vacations, she got a taste of many other languages.

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