How many times do you listen to the same lesson?

I wonder how many times do others students listen to the same lesson at an intermediate level or what is the average recommended standard.

I read in previous threads that beginners should listen and read the same lesson many times. In order to get used to the sound of a new language and its new vocabulary, let’s say, about 30 times.

I usually listen to texts that contain about 20-22% of new words. They’re about 5-12 minutes long.
I guess mine’s quite an usual situation for intermediate learners.
My question is: would it be more useful to listen to the same lesson so many times to try to know some phrases by hearth, hoping that some expressions steak to you and become ready to use in your usual speaking or would it be more effective to listen to many different things (let’s say 3 times) hoping to see the same words and expressions in different situations and that they stick to you unconsciously?

I think the basic factor is to what extent you are engaged with the listening. By engaged I mean following the argument of the story/debate, allowing descriptions to affect your imagination, or even noticing the structures that speakers are using and comparing them to what you already know (all on a semi or subconscious level). Basically the more you are engaged the more you will learn, whether you notice it or not.

I think engagement is enhanced by novelty. So switching material might be a good strategy. Also, listening in the early morning or the late evening seems to be better for me (A quiet atmosphere helps my engagement). The sound of a speakers’ voice or audio quality is important to me too. An unpleasant voice/audio will not prevent me from engaging once or twice, but it will prevent me from listening effectively 10 or 12 times. Also, if I have imagined a personality around the speaker based on the voice quality, as well as the things they say, and I don’t I find the personality pleasant, I will engage less often. Finally, if I reread a text, and find a few extra LingQs as well as review the ones I have already made, it will usually breathe life into the listening for at least 2 more listens.

I think if you pay attention to being engaged with the listening, all the other questions will become less important. Another point is that as an upper intermediate learner, you might want to explore the “reverse” function on the flashcards, to work on the accuracy of your output.



I agree with Ed. I would add the following, but I also would like to hear from other users.

The brain likes a challenge. As long as there is about 20 -25% that I do not quite understand, I am stimulated to keep listening.

The brain like novelty, as Ed said. It is a good thing to move on to new content as soon as you are tired of the old. You can always go back.

It is useful to repeat in order to groove certain things in your memory, in order to reinforce the connections between neurons, so to speak.

I heartily agree with Ed that the appeal of the content, either the subject matter, the turn of phrase or the quality of the voice will influence how often I can listen.

In general I will listen 20-50 times as a beginner, 10 times as an intermediate and eventually only once or twice. There is not question that phrases from the early stage, when I was willing to listen more often, stay with me more than phrases from content I only listen to once. But now that I understand so much more, my curiosity keeps me moving ahead to new content, and to the pleasure of understanding new things in the new language. As a beginner I was almost forced to repeat many many times.

The formula that works for me (at any level) is :-

  1. Listen
  2. Read (and create LingQs)
  3. Listen again

This is my basic unit of work. Once I’ve done 1-2-3 I move on to the next content item in my Workdesk (always working up the list from the bottom, i.e. oldest accessed). I prefer to work with short pieces of 2-3 minutes and I like to have a lot of content (well over 100 items). I only archive if I’m fed up of the piece, or I know it inside out. I don’t review flashcards, preferring to review the vocab in context, i.e. in point 2. I add new content when I find something new I like.

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One feature which might add an interesting dimension to the content would be for the provider to create comprehension questions at the end of the piece. The answers could be provided in the text (after a suitable gap in time and space) or the provider could link to a blog with the answers. Alternatively there could be a feature programmed into LingQ that would facilitate this and make it a prerequisite for considering the content “read”.

Content providers are free to offer questions, including subjects for writing or for discussions, as part of their content.

As to comprehension questions, I have always disliked them and would certainly not want to make answering them a condition of making the content item complete. I often read an item, listen to it, do not fully understand and move on, happy in the knowledge that I have exposed myself to the language, and have enjoyed it. I feel no obligation or need to demonstrate my understanding for someone else to judge.

I agree with the Brazilian educator Rubem Alves, who said (and I paraphrase) “Nothing quite destroys the pleasure of reading as much as questions from teachers asking us to analyze what we have read or to answer comprehension questions”.

That is just my view, but I am totally allergic to such questions.

All of you,
thanks very much.
I’m sure that each of us develops a self-method that suits him/her the best, balancing efficiency and pleasure.
In this way, I thanks you for new suggestions and ideas.
As a matter of fact I figure I should revise some more times, but as I get bored if I don’t move to new items, it’s a good suggestion to alternate on numerous items, to reach the suggested 10 times or similar.

I listen to each content for about 1,5 hours. This means many times for short content, and fewer times for long content. It suits me fine. Longer content is sometimes easier to get; after a while I “tune in” to the theme/storyline - while a relatively short clip can be full of new vocabulary.

I realize , and Mark reminded me, that I am perhaps a little extreme in my approach to questions about comprehension. It may well be that a large number of people enjoy this as a part of their learning process.

In any case, providers of content are free to structure the content as they see fit. The only constraint is that the content should be in the target language.

I think there are questions about factual elements of an item that can usefully work as a prompt for people to review their reading.

There is a construct called Bloom’s Taxonomy, while certainly not scientific, provides a neat way of categorising the types of quesitons we ask:

I think as long as the questions are at the lower end of the categorical pyramid, they just serve to make sure the reader has been paying attention.

I think we could have a short optional test. “Take a test to see how well you understand the article.” There could be a list of questions for the learner to submit to their tutor for correction, and for some feedback on their comprehension.

Let’s chew this around and see what others think. In any event we do not want to implicate our programmers, at least not for the next little while.

I think that would be a great idea! If it is optional, short, and – dare I say it about a test – fun, I would certainly enjoy that.

I’m with you Steve. I hate review questions and testing of any sort. (Although some people do like it.) What I do for myself is break up the audio dialog in Audacity so there are pauses after each sentence. In the pause I say the next line. Alternately, I change it up a bit. I will say something slightly different (single-slot substitution). For example: “Could you please tell me where I can find __?” or “Could you please ____ me.” This helps me learn the language in “chunks.” Then in odd moments I mentally review these chunks and their variations.
Perhaps listing these type of sentences would be helpful. It’s sometimes challenging to break the sentence at the appropriate point and add an appropriate substitute.


You gave me an excellent idea. To break up the audio is a lot better than to pause it after every sentence.

Thank you.

I have to admit that I also hate review questions and these kinds of things. But I deal with it better when it is an audio test. Somebody tells a short story or something and asks questions about it.

Yes, you are right, Learning English. An audio test would be good. It would be more like real communication than drills. Great idea. I’m going test it out.