Does listening to languages inactivitely help?

Hello! I’m currently learning Korean and French. Sometimes when listening to the lessons in Korean I find myself zooning out and sometimes I’m doing other things simultaneously. Does listening with “one ear” help with language learning? I do the same thing sometimes when listening to French radio. Shouldn’t it help me with at least pronounciation? What do you think? :slight_smile:
(is inactivitely even a word? haha)

I think you mean passively listening rather than inactively. :stuck_out_tongue:

I don’t find it helpful. I find active listening more time effective. If I pay attention to just the sounds to learn how the word is pronounced, yes that’s one thing, but say listening with LingQ in the background while you’re actually focusing on homework or watching TV is a waste of time.

Yes, passively, thank you! :stuck_out_tongue:

Of course active listening is more active since it’s… active. So you don’t think it could help me at all?

One would like to think it would help, but what you’re describing wouldn’t by my experience. Even when actively listening I can get into a state if not careful where it’s all just babble, and that’s useless.

I do watch films that I do not comprehend very well, and I definitely think it has helped with listening comprehension and tuning the ear to the sound and flow of the spoken language. But that’s really not passive.

If you have a fairly good mastery of the language, then it might help some since you will be able follow along with minimal attention, and some new thing might perk up your ears. But I don’t think that’s what you’re describing.

On the other hand, if it’s not detracting from active learning, I don’t see how it could hurt. Give it a try and let us know whether you think it has benefit.

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Most would say that passive listening is not effective, but in my short experience it has helped quite a bit. I have a lot of listening under my belt with Korean, I was listening to the language way before I decided to learn Korean and I find that it make pronunciation somewhat easier. It really depends on you, don’t get caught up in what method to do and instead just experiment as you go. Anyways good luck!

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I would say, if you day’s goal is to do your chores, why not add a background sound?
Your ear will get used to the accent, the rythme, the music, it could be usefull for prononciation or just “finding” words bellow the music.

But if your day’s main goal is to learn foreign language and you are doing your chores at the same time, it’s a waste of time. (unless as someone said, you already have enough skill to understand without concentration)

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I think it depends of what other activities you are doing, for example: I don’t think is useful if you are studying for an exam or watching tv, because these activities require attention, but, on the other hand, if you are jogging, cleaning up the house, doing the dishes, then I think it helps and I do a lot of passive listening, always when I am making dinner, cleaning up the house I’m listening, and I think Steve does the same as well.


In my opinion it is useless. Maybe you are not motivated enough to study those languages.
One thing I usually do is to listen to podcasts, videos, etc while doing the dishes for example. But mi focus is on listening, I’m active in that and I remain passive and automatic with the dishes. In this case it’s 0k to combine activities in my opinion. Cheers.

Hmm, so you’re saying it could probably help if I know quite a bit of the language? In that case, I would like to think that it could help my French. You say watching movies have helped you and I agree with that - movies are great! But often, if it’s too advanced, doesn’t that also turns into babble and you only read the subtitles, because that’s what happens to me sometimes. Or am I just a bad listener? Who knows… :wink:

I think that listening passivly is a good foundation. The tones, the rhythm and so on sticks. Thank you, and good luck to you as well! :slight_smile:

Yes, I agree with you. My goal with “background listening” is not to master the languages via this media but to hear the language more and get used to the sounds and maybe snap up some words. I have a very short attention span and can more easily focus when I do multiple things because my brain then focuses on two things that I should be doing rather than one thing I should do and a thousand other things.

No, watching TV and trying to listen to something else would be complete garbage :stuck_out_tongue: When I jog and listen, I give the listening my full attention so it’s the middle ground I’m asking about. Like, when I’m drawing and half-focusing on the drawing and half-focusing on the listening. :slight_smile:

I wouldn’t say that it’s motivation I lack, it’s just that I have a thousand other things to do and more subjects to study so I can’t listen as much as I would like to. That’s why I try to listen passively as well to try and at least get a little more out of it :slight_smile:

I find, I can actually concentrate on the lesson, and zone out of the task I’m doing, as in not really think about the dishes I am washing while I concentrate on the lesson?

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I couldn’t learn languages if I couldn’t listen inactively. I never sit down to just listen. If I have dedicated time, I read and LingQ. Of course, while vacuuming the house, doing dishes, running or driving, I zoom in and out. But if the content is interesting, and not just learner content, I tend to stay focused much of the time.

Steve, do you find that listening is especially effective if it’s done on a car stereo, while you’re driving?

(I can’t really work out why it should be so, but I’m sure that this is the case for me…)

No, but I find that I lose concentration if I try to deliberately listen while sitting in a chair for example. As long as I am doing something else I am OK.

“Does listening with “one ear” help with language learning?” Yes, it does. That’s what I’ve been doing with English.

" Shouldn’t it help me with at least pronounciation? What do you think? " I think it should, because when I try speaking English, people manage to understand what I’ve to say.

Yeah, sitting in a chair and listening is a real killer! (These days I literally go to sleep if I do that.)

Like you, I also find that those times when I’m generally active (running, walking, doing household chores, etc) are good listening opportunities.

But for some reason driving seems to be especially good for me. (I have to be actually driving my car though - public transport isn’t so good…)

I don’t think inattentive listening can hurt, but attentive listening, as long as you are relaxed and not fighting off boredom, must be better. The problem is, with learning languages, after the honeymoon phase is over, you are stuck with hard material that is interesting, or level appropriate material which is boring.

My solution is to stick with the hard, interesting stuff but do it in short spurts. Or when doing it in longer spurts set a level appropriate intention ( a kind of paradoxical goal which you focus on but you do not need to achieve). For example, count the number of times word X is used. This kind of tricks your brain into paying attention for longer than normal.

Personally i find listening while doing other things takes away from my enjoyment of my everyday life. The only time I do it is if I am doing something mildly unpleasant anyway, like riding the bus.


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