Maintaining multiple languages

A recent post on The Linguist discusses an interesting idea for maintaining one’s abilities in various languages. The idea is that you load up your mp3 player with audio files for the languages you want to maintain and/or improve, then you set it to randomly repeat them. The files could be language lessons, podcasts, audiobooks or anything else you have to hand. This method ensures that you don’t get tired of listening to one particular language, and should help you to switch between languages.

I think I’ll give this a try. I already have quite a few language courses loaded onto my mp3 player and will set up a playlist for the ones I’m working on at the moment. I’ll add more lessons and chapters from my audiobooks to the playlist once I’ve read through them. This will enable me to revise material I’ve already covered. I might add some podcasts in languages such as French, Spanish, Russian and Japanese.

This entry was posted in Language, Language learning.

5 Responses to Maintaining multiple languages

  1. Declan says:

    I think that the random idea is very good, espically when it mightn’t be a true love, but merely an interest, in a language or languages. I think though that you would be advised to deadfile conversations that are too basic after a while so that your standard would be maintained.

  2. Busliman says:

    I’ve applied that method for the last two years, concurrently with my studies at my university of origin (which involved options in arabic and hebrew). It proved successful and more concretely in beginning to master the languages.
    I enjoyed mixing languages : classical arabic, different spoken varieties, hebrew, persian, hindi, even english to some extent… You get a feel of familiarity with the different sound systems, a way of recognition which can be most useful.
    I am currently in Egypt studying spoken and written arabic and hopefully am quickly progressing.
    of course it is sometimes useful to check from times to times the meaning or context of what you’re listening to, if not the translation itself.
    It can prove interesting to vary between texts you’ve listened to over and over again and eventually assimilate, and new texts or even the radio bulletin, which bring variety and unexpected sentences you have to catch up with.
    listen, repeat, and sometimes let the words slide without concentrating, they end up somewhere…

  3. Steve says:

    I am not sure you need to deadfile easy conversations. The only consideration should be that you enjoy or can tolerate listening to them. Sometimes reviewing easy content is very effective.
    If I start a new language I concentrate on that language. I listen and repeat to myself, trying to catch the intonation of the language. I agree with Busliman that it is essential to let words and meaning slide.
    I am fluent in nine language and have been working on three new ones in the last few years, on and off. The one key priniciple of language learning is to accept, and even enjoy uncertainty. There will always be words you do not understand or thoughts you cannot express well in another language. If you do not like uncertainty stay with your native language.

  4. Steve says:

    I am interested in exchanging ideas on the use of MP3 players for language learning. Some ideas I would be interested in bouncing around here.

    1) Listening to audio contents read by talented story tellers creates a stronger emotional bond to the target language and is better for language learning.
    2) At times it is good to listen straight through to enjoy the sense of achievement in grapsoing the meaning of a new language. At other times we should stop the MP3 player at every phrase and repeat the phrase to ourselves 5-10 times, concentrating only on the rhythm and intonation and not worrying about words that we forget.
    3) If we can reproduce the rhythm and intonation of the language our auditory perception, pronunciation and confidence improve. We also develop a better sense of the little bits, the prepositions, articles, verb and noun forms etc.
    4) As much as possible we should listen to whatever we read in the new language and read whatever we listen, at least until we are past the intermediate stage.

  5. Miro says:

    Depends on your language level, but myself I enjoy listening to podcasts from several radio stations in different languages. Every week I get a few hours of fresh interesting content and I listen to everything just once, then delete it.

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