How much listening do you do?

I’m curious as to how much listening others do, specifically, listening to material that you have no transcript for. For a while, I was listening to all sorts of stuff; I used Global Maverick’s guide to organizing foreign language listening material with iTunes, synced it with my iPod Touch, and had ear buds stuffed in my ears for hours on end. I’m not sure of how helpful it really is.

I’m certainly not arguing against listening to your target language, but I’m not overly confident that one learns a great deal when listening in this fashion. That is to say, sure, hearing something I already know reinforces it. But all of the words and structures I don’t know tend to just fly by me, lost. If it’s something new, whether a word or a grammatical structure, hearing it a dozen times isn’t going to teach me the meaning of it; on listen #12, it’s going to be a big question mark for me, just as it was on listen #1. I suppose one could argue that you could write down unknown things, but that’s going to involve a lot of rewinding, and considering that there’s practically infinite written material for the major languages, it makes more sense to just learn new words from reading.

Obviously, having a transcript of what you’re listening to alleviates this problem; listen to the item in question, then read the transcript and look up unknown words (or vice versa). Then proceed to listening to it until you’re bored of it.

The “Lyrics” tab on iPods

Geoff has a great post on making use of the Lyrics information, which iTunes lets you attach to any audio file in your library. Once you sync your iPod with your iTunes library, whatever you put in the Lyrics information tab will be available on your iPod.

As he says, while it’s meant for lyrics, it’s really just a text field, so you can put anything in it – Assimil dialogues, troublesome vocabulary, or transcripts of whatever you’re listening to. I’ve had an iPod of some sort for years now, and I never thought of doing this, even after seeing some podcasts come packaged this way, like Slow German. All this time, I’ve been printing out copies of the transcripts for Deutsche Welle’s Top Thema podcasts, when I could have just been copying and pasting the text into the Lyrics field.