February 12


Language learning with audio books/audio courses

By Katharina

February 12, 2020

Would you like to learn a language? Preferably with an audiobook, audio courses and en passant? Self-determined learning without being tied to place, time or computer sounds tempting and is also very successful when choosing the right learning method.

Today we’re writing about the advantages and disadvantages of audio courses, and we’ll introduce you to the Birkenbihl Approach, where listening is the basis for successful language learning.

Advantages of audio language courses

1. Learning like a child

Do you remember how you learned your mother tongue as a child? Did you have to cram vocabulary or learn grammar rules by heart? I’m sure you didn’t. You listened a lot, started to distinguish sounds, perceive sounds and at some point, you tried your first word. An audio language course is the most similar to learning a language like a child. Because we are way ahead of our toddlers and already speak at least one language, we learn a new language much faster than our mother tongue with audio courses. By listening to the foreign language a lot and imitating it at some point, we manage to adapt to this intuitive way of language learning much like children do and make it possible for adults as well. Audio courses play an essential role in listening comprehension.

2. Speaking is the most important

Unlike school-based learning, an audio language course will let you speak a language very quickly instead of devoting yourself to reading and writing. Also, the cramming of vocabulary and grammar rules is unnecessary.

3. Independent and self-determined

Another advantage of an audio language course is that you can use it anytime and anywhere: on the way to work, while cooking, cleaning or just relaxing on the couch. Lean back, relax and let the words come to you. Modern audio courses can be used on a smartphone and are therefore immediately applicable everywhere.

4. Simple and relaxed

Listening (whether active or passive) is relaxing and neither boring nor stressful. Leave the everyday life behind you! You may want to tune in to your favourite music – this will put you in a receptive state and make language learning even easier.

5. Sense of achievement and fun

In contrast to vocabulary and grammar lessons at school, learning a language in this way is a lot of fun because it is brain-friendly. Suddenly learning becomes easy, even if you thought you were one of those people without a feeling for language.

Important: Audio courses, yes, but only with complete sentences!

Many audio language courses only offer the translation of single words, such as Messer-knife or estudiar-learn … On the one hand, it is really boring to listen to vocabulary only. By cramming individual words, you get isolated data that your brain cannot store. On the other hand, your brain develops connections that actually do not exist at all. For example, we store “Tisch-table” or “Messer-knife”, with the result that we can never really detach ourselves from the mother tongue. Also, there are always several possible translations, such as “liberty” or “freedom” for the German word “Freiheit”.

In the context of a sentence, the meaning of the individual words become clear; you get an example of how to use them from the very beginning. This way, you learn phrases, parts of phrases, and whole sentences that can be used immediately.

What else to look for? Find out more: 5 things you should keep in mind when using an audio language course

The Birkenbihl Approach: a language learning method with success

The Brain-Friendly language courses are based on the Birkenbihl Approach and can be used as a computer course/online course or an audiobook. Vera F. Birkenbihl designed this method according to scientific findings. The goal is intuitive language learning – similar to the way we all learned our mother tongue. Cramming vocabulary is prohibited. Two essential steps lead you to your goal:

  1. Understanding the foreign language – through a word-for-word translation (called decoding) of a foreign-language text into the mother tongue. Read the translation while listening to a foreign language. This way, you will learn not only the definitions of the individual words but also the language’s grammar intuitively.
  2. Speaking the foreign language perfectly – by repeatedly listening to the foreign language. Play the lessons that you’ve already learned in the background while you concentrate on other things and live your daily routine. Your subconscious listens and prepares your brain for speaking by building necessary nerve tracts. You are constantly surrounded by the foreign language – just like during a stay abroad. This is a prerequisite for perfect pronunciation. After a few days, you will be able to speak the text almost perfectly yourself.

>> Online course and audio course simultaneously

The language course includes a video of the text. The video contains two decoding lines that are comparable to subtitles: above you’ll see the text in the foreign language, below the word-for-word translation into your mother tongue. While you’re listening to a native speaker, you’re following the respective word pair, and you’re learning the words’ meanings intuitively. But what’s the best part of the brain-friendly language courses? You’ll never have to cram grammar or vocabulary ever again! The learner experiences unique motivation through the coherent story of the episodes. Since you want to know how the saga continues, you keep it rolling. Watching the film is also motivating and a reward for the learning effort.

Start with either the online course or the audio course. Starting with active listening will put you in the mood for the language and learning, and the active learning time will be even more effective.

You should watch the series and read the decoding at the same time. It would also help if you listened to the text passively. Play the lessons that you’ve already learned in the background while you concentrate on other things. This exercise is the only way your brain creates the synapses necessary for speaking a foreign language.

Learn more about the Brain-Friendly language courses by clicking here.

>> Use as an audio course

So, insert the audio/CD, and you’re already learning English? Actually, it’s not that simple. If you don’t understand the foreign language texts on a CD – or the radio etc. – you won’t learn from them! Only the language melody and rhythm will gradually become more familiar to you. It is not possible to learn words and sentences or the sentence structure through listening. You cannot grasp the content of the text – or, at best, only as far as your existing knowledge. Things that you already understand are also recognized and processed. However, if you only know two words in a sentence of, for example, 13 words, the brain can only remember individual words through “passive listening” and cannot establish a connection.

For this reason, it is important to learn to understand the text first. Brain-Friendly also delivers the texts as pdf-files, which you can print out or download to your smartphone. Read them first so that you understand the individual words. Brain-Friendly supplies the texts in different varieties: only in the foreign language text, in the foreign language including decoding into the native language or decoding exercises for independent filling out. Once you understand a large part of the text, listening in the background makes sense. Now listen day and night. After six to nine days of passive listening, you will suddenly begin to speak the foreign language with confidence.


About the author

Content Manager and blogger Katharina Rucker has devoted herself to the Birkenbihl Approach for language learning since 2011. Since 2014, she has been working as a freelancer in the field of online marketing: www.rucker-marketing.at

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