How to avoid boredom when repeatedly listening to audio

Friday, March 18, 2016

Repetition is very important when learning a language. Repetition is very important. Repetition is very important.

The problem is that your mind doesn't always agree, especially when you are already somewhat proficient in a language. Once you've read and listened to a text once or twice that you completely or mostly understand you are now completely bored by it, and when listening to it again your mind has a strong tendency to wander.

To make things worse, even when repeatedly listening to a text you'll find yourself able to pay attention to the parts you understand, while the parts that are too complicated, too fast, too garbled to understand clearly just zoom by. So upon listening to a text five times for example your mind will have taken note five times of the parts you already understand well, and will more than likely have glossed over the more important parts.

My trick here is the following.


  • I cut and paste a short section of text, about twenty or thirty words in length. Then I use Audacity to select the matching audio,
  • a short section of text, about twenty or thirty words in length. Then I use Audacity to select the matching audio, and as I go along,
  • about twenty or thirty words in length. Then I use Audacity to select the matching audio, and as I go along, I delete the preceding parts,
  • words in length. Then I use Audacity to select the matching audio, and as I go along, I delete the preceding parts, and add a bit at a time.
  • Then I use Audacity to select the matching audio, and as I go along, I delete the preceding parts, and add a bit at a time. This forces you
  • use Audacity to select the matching audio, and as I go along, I delete the preceding parts, and add a bit at a time. This forces you to listen repeatedly,
  • to select the matching audio, and as I go along, I delete the preceding parts, and add a bit at a time. This forces you to listen repeatedly, while keeping the content new.
  • the matching audio, and as I go along, I delete the preceding parts, and add a bit at a time. This forces you to listen repeatedly, while keeping the content new. If necessary
  • and as I go along, I delete the preceding parts, and add a bit at a time. This forces you to listen repeatedly, while keeping the content new. If necessary you can also use
  • I delete the preceding parts, and add a bit at a time. This forces you to listen repeatedly, while keeping the content new. If necessary you can also use text-to-speech
  • the preceding parts, and add a bit at a time. This forces you to listen repeatedly, while keeping the content new. If necessary you can also use text-to-speech such as
  • and add a bit at a time. This forces you to listen repeatedly, while keeping the content new. If necessary you can also use text-to-speech such as in Google Translate,
  • a bit at a time. This forces you to listen repeatedly, while keeping the content new. If necessary you can also use text-to-speech such as in Google Translate, if you can
  • at a time. This forces you to listen repeatedly, while keeping the content new. If necessary you can also use text-to-speech such as in Google Translate, if you can stand
  • This forces you to listen repeatedly, while keeping the content new. If necessary you can also use text-to-speech such as in Google Translate, if you can stand the artificial voice.


So in the example above you've encountered the term "matching audio" eight times before it gets deleted, but while doing so you're listening to something new at the end. When you end up deleting the term you encounter it one more time, and hopefully at that point you know whether you are familiar enough with it to delete it. If it still feels like you won't be able to recall it and use it on your own, then you may want to make a note of it or put it into your Anki deck.

For me this is actually the only way I can stand listening to something over and over again, unless it's content that well and truly interests me - the German audiobook of Demian, Rai's great biography of Wilhelm II, things like that. Otherwise I need to use this trick to keep my mind from wandering. If you're the same type of person then give this method a try.


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