Bad listening habits

Look we have all been there, when it comes to listening to new content. We like to call it “focusing”; but I prefer to call it stress induced listening. Here are some examples:

  1. Not breathing because your worried the sound of your breathe will distract you from what’s being said

  2. Tensing up just to make sure your ear can catch every word. In our native language our brain looks for context and we aren’t bothered if we can’t hear everything, as long as we get the context. An example of this is when your watching TV in your native language, and all of a sudden the character speaks quieter and you missed what they said, but you got the jist of it; based on everything else.

  3. Pulling your body in closer to the screen as if having the words closer to your eyes makes it easier to understand

  4. Restarting the lesson every time you miss one little word.

  5. Forming a v in the middle of your eyebrows because you don’t want to miss one little sound.

Focused listening versus passive listening

Passive listening is just listening to something you don’t even understand. It’s useless. If I listen to something that I understand less than 50% of that’s passive listening.

If I listen to something I know 50% or more of that’s focused listening. So focused listening is not doing the 5 bad habits above, focusing on one lesson without going between different tabs, and knowing at least 50% of the content.


Thank you!!!

I’ve seen it repeated and repeated here and elsewhere that the key to language learning is reading and listening; with the emphasis on listening A LOT. My 90-day-Swedish challenge sets a target of listening for almost one hour each day. I was just at Beginner 2 when I joined and it’s insane because there are only two choices to meet that target:

  • Hear the same content over and over and over again, stressing out because at the end of the day there are still words I don’t understand because people don’t speak textbook Swedish, or German, or English.
  • Listen to diverse content, get a feeling for the sound of the language but for little else because I don’t yet have enough words to understand even a simple spoken text.

Also, with Swedish there actually isn’t a lot of (free) good quality audio material. There are a few sources but most of them don’t relate to stuff I’m interested and, again, even so I don’t have the vocabulary yet.

Our Spanish course at evening school focuses much more on getting the gist of spoken dialog and learning to understand written text. We were told from the beginning in both courses, by both tutors that we should never, ever work with transscripts and try to understand every single word - because we don’t listen like this in our native language either. Or do you download the news as podcast and rewind every time to didn’t catch 100% of the sentence?!

I would never say passive listening is useless it’s not the most efficient and they are better alternatives but certainly not useless .many years ago the farc rebels in colombia kidnapped American soldiers and held them for awhile and when they finally rescued they spoke Spanish because that’s what they heard everyday i’m sure they were not being taught Spanish grammar by the rebels…that is and extreme example but many poor people inn the world have only access to audio andthey are able to achieve results

@Deahna, have you tried this: Klimatmöten för både barn och vuxna - Klartext | Sveriges Radio

You’ll get transcripts and audios, and hopfully you’ll find stuff of your choice.

Yes, thanks, I came across this a while ago but from what I can see there’s no other choice than the daily news - and again my vocab certainly isn’t up to that yet.

I was more thinking along the lines of good kid’s books, preferably those that don’t have a lot of slang in them, so I can get used to the basic x-thousand words I don’t know yet.

Have a look at this:- YouTube

or this one:ök/författare/martin-widmark

I’d like some proof on this. I hear this story all the time, but I have yet to see anything confirmed.

It’s always the case of full grown, angry, unfocused prisoners unwillingly learning better than young, passionate, and attentive learners.

so you think if you are in and environment where a languages is spoken you were forced to hear it everyday and speak it you will not pick it up youwant proof check out the millions of Spanish immigrants in the states you think they are in classes learning english they don’t speak the language perfectly and have accents but they certainly can get their point across and be understood

You still didn’t provide me proof for your American prisoner story.

Also, your statement about Spanish speaking immigrants is comparing apples to oranges. Millions of Spanish speakers taking formal classes as you’re saying isn’t proving anything for your American prisoner story.

You need a control group to compare those situations.

If you want to compare anecdotes, look at people that travel abroad. They hardly pick up anything other than small talk despite being in an immersive environment.

I would disagree with the last paragraph. Most travellers stay within their own group, whether backpackers hanging around together, tour groups, or, if ex-pats, they are often working in English, or their grasp of the local language is poor and they prefer to watch BBC news at home or films in English rather than the local language. In my experience living overseas in a few different countries, most ex-pats have non-local friends and associate primarily with other ex-pats or travellers. Those who succeed in mastering a local language usually have to make an effort to be immersed in it. The rest usually avoid it. It is not at all an immersive environment for most travellers.


I have seen a lot of expats they learnt the language very quickly and had spoken fluently. They were all interessted for the language and what is crucial they did efforts to increase as much as possible the vocabulary. I have seen others in the same environement they have never achived a reasonable level, allways the same 500 words, the same faults etc. But they never dit any effort to change.

I’m waiting for that moment. The “I can see everything so clearly now” moment.

Unfortunately I don’t unterstand your post. I assume it is about a bit frustration concerning languages learning. isn’t it? But I dont want to insinuate anything. Maybe my English is not that good to untersand the meaning.
Actually I am just curios.

When people are beginners of a language, they say they are waiting for the fog to lift.
It is not necessarily about frustration.
However, when they finally see everything very clearly, it can be a joyous moment. I have recently had that moment with German.


Interesting. Indeed, about two weeks ago I started brush up my English.
Even this weekend I thought about the breakthroughs I have had (I have called them that way) and that language learning wasn’t a linear thing to me at all. There were moments like “fog lifting” or “now I can see clearly".

For French it was when a moved to Suisse Romand. It seamed to me like as they had changed the name of the Mount-Everest into “French-Learning”. In my desperation I remembered my German-French dictionary. I carried it the hole day everywhere I went and looked up the unknown words and memorized them, I started listening intensively to the speaks and started speaking despite of my mistakes. After about 3 months I have had my “big bang” or “ fog lifted off” moment.

People around me changed from Martians to real people I could communicate with. I didn’t no longer need a interpreter. Later on I successfully acted myself for years as a simultaneous interpreter (French-German), twice a week on voluntary base but all begun at the day they changed the name of the Mount-Everst into “French-Learning”. But in reality it was just a small hill which became familiar to me.

For English my breakthrough was no long after I left ordinary learning which was wrapped in things like: lesson 1 - 120, twice a week, from 5 pm to 6 pm, with stuff I wasn’t interested in: Mary and Paul go shopping, Mary and Paul in the restaurant, and for advanced learners: Book III-lesson 257- Mary and Paul mourn their dying hamster. Mary and Paul in the zoo (and they were even not eaten by the lions.That was to bad because that would have been more drilling).

I think one should not miss the moment to jump off the merry-go-round and move to learning habits like we can find in LingQ.
Otherwise it would be like someone who learns horse riding but never goes to sit on a real horse or someone who learns drive a car or learns skiing but never drive the car or put the skies on his feet.

The Mary and Paul story is a fruit of my mind. The rest is real live.

I am looking forward to have an another “now I see clearly moment “ maybe it happens once I have started learning Spanish on LingQ.

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I find the best way to be relaxed and not lose the thread while listening is, paradoxically, to be doing something else at the same time, driving, exercising, doing the dishes etc…,


that’s nobody’s problem but yours if you believe you have the only way to learn a language that is your issue i’veseen it myself living among people who don’t speak the same language and they have never opened a book or attended ed aschool just exposure to the language .i find you very xenophobic person indeed

That’s a new one. I ask for proof in a claim and suddenly I’m xenophobic?


I think the general point is that it’s often assumed (mostly by monolingual people) that you’ll just “pick up the language” if you are in an immersive environment. And in my experience that’s not true at all. You still have to put in a lot of effort as well.

I am living in a country of a target language. It’s as hard to find a native speaker to talk as it was in my home country. You may talk to people in the streets or wherever, but it will be just some seconds and will need no more than a beginner level.