Profile Picture

passive listening as a key to language acquisition

5 years ago
A recent study in Finland has determined what many of us already knew. Just listening to a language can help you learn it... even if you don't understand what you're hearing.


How could this be? Does the listener magically come to infer which objects, actions and concepts correspond to unexplained sounds?

Of course not. You still have to learn the vocabulary. There are passive ways to do that too, but that's another story.

However, just getting used to the sounds of a language is good, not just for pronunciation, but also for grammar. It helps you develop that sense of what "sounds right" and what doesn't.

Some of my advanced students have developed such a sense. We'll be doing an exercise, and they'll say something like: "Option B sounds better. I don't know why."

But I do know why. Because without exception, those students are the ones who spend a lot of time listening to music with English lyrics, and watching movies and TV shows with English dialog.

What's your experience?