November 3


Only good sound makes music!

By Laura Bacher

November 3, 2020

Pay attention to good sound when learning a language!

Do you know this situation?

The telephone conference with the USA colleague 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. Fifty years ago, music still had a rich sound. Today, digital sound is compressed so much that it overwhelms the brain. Compression removes sounds that do not affect the listener’s perception. Consciously, you can hardly detect any difference.

But your subconscious cannot be fooled. Music that is compressed too much and even mobile phone calls become unpleasant. Listening on smartphones takes it to the extreme: the little marvels have reached a limit here. The built-in speakers are not very powerful. The speech transmission of today’s smartphones is probably the least developed technical feature.

TIP: Use high-quality audio files, for example, mp3 (196 kbps – as supplied by Brain-Friendly), wav, aiff, etc.

Effects on your brain

If sounds are affected, this 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 terrible, almost all central areas of the brain have to be active. The brain has to work harder if, for example, the person you are talking to is difficult to understand. It tries to fill in the gaps caused by interference or compression of the sound signal. The synapses in the unconsciously activated brain fire more often, which makes us tire more quickly and can even lead to stress.

TIP: Use speakers that are independent of your music system. There are very inexpensive devices on the market, most of which work with Bluetooth (min. 4.0). It is safest to use a music player and connect it directly with an audio cable. This way, you can be sure that your device also delivers good playback quality, and your brain can concentrate on recording knowledge.

Good sound with audiobooks and apps for language learning

Audiobooks, learning software, and apps for learning foreign languages live from what is spoken. The more attractive the exercise materials are designed, the longer you spend time with them. In the best case for hours, day and night. A good sound is essential. Because you don’t want to strain your brain, but rather encourage it and challenge it a little.

Have you ever stayed abroad for a more extended period? If so, you know how easy it is to immerse yourself in a foreign language when you listen to it all the time. Listening is essential for foreign language learning. It is the most crucial step in speaking a foreign language well and without an accent. Listening creates nerve tracts that are needed for speaking the new language.

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

Many audio language courses only offer the pure audition of single words, such as Messer-knife or studiare-lernen … But on the one hand, it is boring to hear only the vocabulary. By cramming single words, you get isolated data, which your brain cannot store. On the other hand, connections are created in our brains that do not exist. For example, we put down “Tischtable” or “Messerknife,” with the result that we can never really detach ourselves from our mother tongue. Besides, there are always several translation possibilities, such as “liberty” or “freedom” for the word freedom.

In the sentence context, the meaning of the individual words becomes apparent, and you are given an example of how to use them from the very beginning. In this way, you learn phrases, parts of sentences, and whole sentences that you can use immediately.

Practice recommendation: background listening

With background listening, you prepare yourself optimally for speaking a foreign language. For the exercise, you need a recording of a foreign language text spoken by a native speaker.

Here’s how the exercise works:

Do some routine work while listening to background music – working, driving, cooking, reading, listening to music, or the radio is fine. Listen passively to the recording of the text in the background. Set the volume relatively low – you should hear the speaker when you are actively listening. Now let the audio recording run in an endless loop and do not pay any further attention. So you are listening passively in the background.

During this process, you slowly transfer the foreign language’s words and sounds from short-term memory to long-term memory and develop a good feeling for the new language. You don’t need any additional learning time for background listening. It is done on the side and is super easy – like a mini holiday. The more you listen passively, the faster you will master speaking, and the better your pronunciation will be. From one day to the next, you’ll want to chat away and read the texts aloud – and with perfect pronunciation.

What happens during background listening, and what is its purpose?

Our subconscious is always listening, even when we sleep. And it can record many different audio sources simultaneously. Think of an airport cafĂ©: there you hear many languages and people around you and you think you don’t even notice it. Now, when repeated audio content is recorded, synapses are formed for speaking.

Approximately 80% of all people who conventionally “believe” they have learned a foreign language (we are not talking about the linguistically gifted here) say that they would like to be able to speak better. Conclusion: download mp3-files and play them silently in an endless loop in the background. Day and night, this is how you can achieve perfect pronunciation. This makes sense with the included audio files of language courses, but you can also use audiobooks or music. Please take a look at the content; messages, for example (even for adults), are not well suited because they often contain negative things, affecting the subconscious.

TIP: The Brain-Friendly language courses are based on the Birkenbihl method, and you can use them as a computer course/online course or audiobook. Vera F. Birkenbihl designed this method according to scientific findings. The aim is intuitive language learning – similar to how we all learned our mother tongue back then. Cramming vocabulary is prohibited. Brain-Friendly implemented the Birkenbihl method as a MOVIE (video) language course. Watch a film and learn a foreign language intuitively and incidentally. Try it out: http://www.brain-friendly.com.

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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