Thursday, August 31, 2006

The listening-only period

Today, I would like to tell you about the "listening-only" period of language learning. It is an idea that I first heard about on the forum over at how to learn any language dot com and I think it was Max who first posted the idea.

The idea is, when you begin learning a language, only listen and do not try speaking. You need time to get used to the sounds, rhythm and intonation of the language. If you start speaking before you are familiar with the language then you will make a habit of your poor pronunciation. And everybody knows, bad habits are hard to kick. Once you have a feel for the language and you begin speaking, you should sound pretty good and if you don't, you'll hear it yourself! You'll be able to correct yourself right away. Most likely, you will be able to sound pretty natural since the language has become a part of you.

How long should you wait before you start practicing your voice? I would say, the longer, the better. At least a minimum of 2 months. 3 or 4 months would be ideal in most situations. Right now, I am in a listening-only period for the Chinese language. I have been listening for about 4 months now. I will continue for another 3 months making a total of 7 months. During this period I listen to lessons and to radio podcasts. I try to increase my knowledge and understanding of words in the language. I call it my preparation stage because I am preparing to speak Chinese.

Do you have any comments about the listening-only period?


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