How do you maintain focus whilst listening?

Hey everyone. I’ve found that when i’m listening to texts, especially long texts as soon as I hit something I don’t understand my mind just wanders off somewhere else completely before then realizing “I’m not actually listening to the audio anymore”. Maybe just wanted to get some opinions and viewpoints on this. It’s not that I don’t find what i’m listening to, to be interesting,because usually when I read the text afterwards I have no trouble focussing and am usually quite taken in by what I’m reading. Some thoughts on this would be interesting :slight_smile:

just on a side note, how much listening each day in your opinion, would you say is a recommendable amount.

“How do you maintain focus whilst listening?”

I don’t. I can’t. It is impossible. Even as I watched Andy Murray win the Wimbledon on TV, I could not concentrate the entire time.

“how much listening each day in your opinion, would you say is a recommendable amount?”

As much as possible. I listen to about an hour before I get to work, then maybe a few hours of radio at work, and then about 45 minutes on the way home, and then hopefully some more at home while cooking or watching TV. I sometimes even put on some audio stuff when I go to bed and listen to that for a while since I am not a good sleeper.

@ColinJohnstone if you find it impossible to maintain focus then why do you do so much listening?

I tune in and out. I catch quite a lot of it. The more I listen, the more I will catch.

I never thought anything would convince me to give shadowing a try, but kimojima’s post might have done it.

I think it’s quite normal. It happens to me when I watch films or even when I’m talking to people (but less so). People are not machines.

I think Steve suggested that we study at least one hour a day. But you cannot expect every single minute to be 100% efficient, people just don’t work like that. Don’t be so hard on yourself! I used to get frustrated when I realised that I stopped listening but I think it’s quite normal.

Also, I would just add that, in my opinion (although I like the word-gauge thing with the number of hours spent listening etc) as soon as you start to quantify something, it may be that you pay less attention to quality. Sometimes I spend half the amount of time listening to things but i’m more concentrated so my study is more productive.

I often sit at my desk, turn off my phone and remove other distractions and just try to focus my attention.

I’m no expert though - just keep it up!

The shadowing may be difficult with rapid speech. I have tried this approach but i just end up mumbling and half listening. Might be useful for recordings of phrases though!

@Andy29 cheers man, and yeah i’ve never really understood the concept of shadowing… Tried it about an hour ago and just found myself talking absolute rubbish, and understanding none of what i was taking in.

I could be wrong but I will say again that I believe this would only work with relatively short texts with lots of pauses. Of course you would have to pay lots of attention to what the person is saying but if the phrase was quite long, you would have to start to repeat the phrase before it finished, which in my view is impracticle. What kind of content do you do shadowing with?

I would agree with the above, when I tried it, I wouldn’t describe it as concentrating, but maybe trying to vaguely follow the pattern of speech while hearing myself mumbling, and of course if im listening to myself mumbling non stop I’m not hearing whats going on, on the recording.

I think of listening in L2 as kind of rapid fire audio only flashcarding with no feedback telling you are right or wrong except your innate sense that you understand what snippet you are on. In this framework listening as Corin describes seems worthwhile. When you get distracted just think “ok next flashcard” and get back to focussing.

@kimojima - I never really thought of using shadowing in that way and instead always thought of it in terms of improving my pronunciation. I’m certainly not perfect at pronunciation but native speakers don’t seem to have trouble understanding the words I say so I never really tried shadowing. It does sound interesting as a way to keep me focused on the text. Maybe it will help me notice some things I wouldn’t otherwise as well? I think I might try this out the next time I lose focus while doing some active listening.

A video by Professor Arguelles demonstrating the shadowing technique.

In my opinion it is absolutely vital to use content in which we have a genuine strong interest. Yesterday I imported some French content as private lessons and had excellent audio recordings done on the exchange by Serge. I have noticed that it is much easier to focus on this content, both in reading and listening.

I think our brains maintain focus when we are highly interested in something. If something is less interesting to us - even slightly less interesting - there is a continual tendency to wander off into other thoughts, IMO.

I have noticed that when my mind wanders during a particular section of a recording, it’ll do so again and again at that very point - it is as if I had hypnotised myself into skipping that phrase… No amount of ‘concentrate, Sanne, the missing sentence is coming up’ seems to work on those occasions.

It depends if I have a lot on my mind or not. If I’m doing other things while listening to podcasts (both LingQ and elsewhere) I can enjoy the podcasts without having to understand everything and just carry on with what I’m doing. However, if I’m distracted and can’t really focus at all then it becomes background noise. Or I understand parts of it and then tune out a lot of it. That when I wonder what I was even listening to.