Reading vs Listening

I’ve only been studying Spanish seriously using the LingQ system over the past 3 wks. I managed to break 3000 words yesterday. Steve’s videos are very inspiring. When I’m feeling tired or frustrated, I watch one and tend to become more inspired again. But here is my question: I find that I’m reading alot more than I’m listening. I do listen to lessons, but I would say I spend the majority of my time reading and lingqing. Should I be worried? Is this wrong?


You should do whatever you enjoy doing. I find that when I have dedicated study time I usually prefer to read. However, I end up listening more than I read, since I listen in the car, while doing the dishes, when walking or jogging, in other words and many more times of the day. I usually listen to what I have read, or try to.

while doing the dishes

I’ve tried that, but it looks like my headphones are too weak =)

eugrus, try this software:

I tried the mp3gain before, however it did not do well in my case. I think it just tries to adjust mp3 files to have the same volume as mentioned in the website.

Finally, I found a way by using Compressor in Audacity (Missing features - Audacity Support) and it really does the job as mentioned in the website: “This increases the perceived overall loudness of the audio.” Hope it will be helpful. :slight_smile:

You can adjust the volume in mp3gain besides making all the files the same volume.

The thing with a compressor is that you need to know how to set the parameters. Does Audacity allow you to change the volume on mp3s without having to convert them to .wav format?

Better headphones? I’ve moved up from paying £1 a pair to £5 a pair and it makes a real difference.

They need to be the sort you poke into your ears to be audible over the washing machine though. Some you can change the size of the plastic sealing rings. If I put on the larger size I get a distinct “squelch” sound when I put them in my ear and a “pop” sound when I take them out.

When I’m wearing them I can’t hear a word my family say to me though. I can’t wear them out in traffic :-0

I know that I can adjust the volume by using mp3gain. I think mp3gain and compressor are two different things.

As far as I know, mp3gain tries to normalize the loudness of several mp3 files. In this case, the listeners will have the same listening experience with different mp3 files which are created by different settings, and they don’t have to manually change volume on their music players. Some music players, e.g. iPod, and Rockbox, already have this feature inbuilt.

However, compressor does something different. If you have a music clip with two different loudnesses, say a person is closer to the microphone and the other is far away from the microphone, mp3gain will not do any better to make the weak sound clearer or louder. It still keeps the ratio between the loud and week sound clips, and this is good for the music listening.

In the same example, what compressor does is to bring the parts with lower voice to reach or try to reach the same loudness as the parts with louder voice. Personally I think this is quite useful for podcast or audiobook listening. I really appreciate all the lessons that LingQ members have contributed. However, most of us are not professional in audio engineering and do not have private studios. Sometimes I encounter some interesting dialogs with two different sound levels, and this really bothers me. With the help of compressor, at least, it really helps to mitigate this problem.

I do not know what exactly problem eugrus has encountered. I used to shuffle several recordings downloaded from LingQ. There were several times that some files just had lower or less clear voice, like Der Mauerfall series, comparing to other recordings. No matter how hard I tried to adjust by using mp3gain, it just did not work. That’s the reason why I use compressor instead of mp3gain, and my music player also has this feature by default.

As for the technical question if it converts mp3 back to wav then back to mp3, I do not know. I only know internally audacity uses ffmpeg as the engine. If ffmpeg does in this way, so does audacity. Anyway, audacity is a full-featured audio editing software, and I am not so surprised to see it converts mp3 files into wav files because there is really not much could be done only with mp3 files, IMHO. :wink:


Thanks for the detailed response, although I’m a professional musician, and I have a home studio with both real and digital compressors. ; )

What mp3gain (and normalization) does is raise the loudest bits to -0 db, and bring the rest of the recording up too. You can choose to bring the lowest bits up too, although it doesn’t work quite like a compressor in which you have more options to taylor the sound. You can make all of your mp3s much louder by having one mp3 that is as loud as you want in the same batch that you’re going to process, then the others will be adjusted to that one.

Using a compressor will work, of course, but you have to do it manually to each file, and it takes a lot longer. I asked about mp3 to .wav conversion because going from mp3 to .wav and then back creates artifacts that degrade the sound quality, although it might not affect it enough to ruin the experience. It just makes a boring process longer.

I personally prefer to do this kind of thing quickly because I won’t be listening to the files for too long or more than a couple of times.


Thanks for this more precised explanation for mp3gain. I am not the professional musician and actually I know almost nothing about music. Instead, I am more of an amateur software programmer using/writing software/scripts for my daily work. I am glad you clarified something I’ve missed out. :wink:

I also agree that converting from mp3 to wav back and forth will lose the quality of the sound, but for the purpose of listening to podcast is fine, at least for me as a tone deaf :wink:

Besides, I don’t do it manually. There is a setting in audacity which you can automate the tasks and I use the default setting with “compressed based on peaks”. It is really not a hassle but takes some time indeed.

Finally, it is just the personal preference and I used to listen to the same recordings several times. So, it fits my needs. :slight_smile:

If it works for you, and you’re happy with it, that’s great. I personally tend not to do anything to my files unless I’m going to be using them several times.

Another problem that eugrus might be having is a weak output from the mp3 player. Some devices just don’t have enough power for noisy environments, even with an excellent headset.

Do whatever keeps you coming back for more!

I’ve been trying to learn European Portuguese since January using as many ways as I can think from readily available sources, following whatever my interest was and whatever I thought would rapidly increase my knowledge of the language – on my own. I’ve used, beginner Pimsleur, beginner Michel Thomas, movies (with and without subtitles, TEDTalks with subtitles (TEDiSUB on iOS), television, youtube, internet radio, songs (listening, transcribing, memorizing, performing), reading the free samples of digital books, children’s books from the library, websites on interesting topics, iOS flashcard apps, reading travel books in Portuguese, a “teach yourself” grammar book, etc. I also narrowed down my focus, deciding what about the new language was most important to me. Turned out actually speaking Portuguese is low on my list (writing is lower). Reading came in second place and understanding by listening took the top spot. Knowing this made it easier to choose how to use my time.

When I first found LingQ last spring, I wasn’t ready for it (and, perhaps, it wasn’t ready for me). A month ago today, I received the message from LingQ that they were launching a new version. It’s great. The ability to read and listen at the same time is great and SO helpful. But I found seeing how many words I know and how many words I don’t know to be a great motivator. (At first I thought the growing avatar was stupid, but it, surprisingly, ended up being a source of motivation too.) Turns out, I’ve learned a lot this year with my various methods. According to LingQ, after a month here, I now know 12,500 words! After all the ups and downs (emotional and educational) and TONS of time I’ve spent on this journey, it is REALLY helpful to have an improving statistic to look at!!! And I also love the daily statistics that show what I’ve done and what needs yet to be done. Seeing at a glance how I’m getting along, and being able to add the time I spend learning the language away from LingQ (conversation, reading, looping - - using LingQ materials and the free iOS app iLift Loop to break down the paragraphs into sentences, phrases and words.) to those stats, keeps me coming back and working harder (if that’s possible; I’m spending every waking hour when not working my job).

All that is to say that LOTS of ways work to learn a language. If reading is your goal and you like reading the LingQ way, don’t worry about the audio; you can always go back to do the lessons again when listening becomes more important to you. If gaining vocabulary is more important at the moment, work with the LingQs. Same with speaking and writing.

Do what fascinates you!

MaryThomas. I am in Lisbon tonight. We are trying to acquire more members and more content providers in Portugal. I spoke with Fernanda and Andre here and they will try to find the time to make more. You might want to indicate what kind of content you are looking for.

Meanwhile I recommend the podcasts from RTP /TSF although unfortunately they do not come with transcripts.

Also, I’m sure I’ve learned plenty from near-constant listening to internet radio while driving, doing chores, sleeping, etc. but I finally decided that, mostly, I was learning to ignore the foreign language I want so much to learn…changing it into MUZAC that I didn’t even hear. Since joining LingQ I have completely stopped listening to Portuguese singers (I’m a musician) and talk radio and won’t allow myself to listen to the LingQ lessons unless I’m willing to pay attention. I have to break the habit I got myself into of ignoring the language…and LingQ’s reading and listening together and the looping method are making a huge difference!! Thanks to all who have created LingQ and who have made suggestions in these Forums that help so much with the learning process.

Now, back to the drawing boards!

@ steve

Say ‘hello’ to Lisboa for me! Lucky you.

Thanks for searching out more content for LingQ. That will be great!!!

Yes, the RTP/TSF podcasts are good but, without transcripts, they fall into my category of foreign language MUZAC for me… My comprehension of normally fast spoken Portuguese is just so far behind my reading ability…but the looping is changing that rapidly.

Boa viagem.

@ steve

You might want to indicate what kind of content you are looking for.

Thanks for asking. Anything but politics; it’s hard enough reading about their tough times in all the news outlets and aggregators on iOS…

I liked the multi-part story Fernanda posted last week and really enjoyed one of the first things she put up:
Conversas do dia a dia
I’ve used that in my looping practice and I can do a pretty good imitation of Fernanda now! : ) What I love about it, though, is the sing-song back-and-forth animated conversation between the “two” speakers. I can listen to tv or radio to get proper pronunciation in nicely read formats but that isn’t what real life Portuguese is like. It’s fast and blurred, animated and descriptive (or at least that is my opinion about their conversations based on listening to them – without understanding them – on previous vacations in Portugal; I’m hoping our next trip will be different!). By listening to Portuguese radio talk shows I get some of that informal talk but, these days, it’s all fueled by anger over the economic situation… That may be real life, but it isn’t a fun way to learn…

So, anything really. Although I now have no more LingQ lessons to read and LingQ, I always can (and do) import articles. I’ve even taken to using an iOS app called Knowtilus Pro that has it’s own browser and will read the articles aloud in whatever language you choose (they offer both European and Brazilian Portuguese). I import the text to read on LingQ and either listen on Knowtilus Pro or record Knowtilus reading into Audacity and upload it with the imported text. Keeps my ears listening while I read.

And, with looping and/or reviewing previous lessons in depth, there’s plenty to do here!