Tips for Listening to Your LEX Audio Materials
As you listen to your LEX audio materials you will be immersed in a multilingual world. Like a resident of multilingual countries such as Luxembourg and Kenya, you will be surrounded by the sounds of many languages spoken by native speakers. Gradually, your ears will become accustomed to the unique rhythm and melody of each language, and your mouth will be able to reproduce the sounds – just as a baby acquires its first language.
Creating an Environment
There are two ways to approach listening to your LEX audio materials. One way is to passively listen while playing them like background music and the other is to actively listen and mimic along. In order to gain the most from the materials, it is important that you spend time each week doing both.
When you are playing the materials in the background, it is not important to play them in any particular order. When you turn them on each day, randomly select which CD or playlist you want to listen to. Listening to different playlists is like listening to a variety of stories and conversations. If you listened to the same story in the same language every day, not only would you lose interest, you would limit the number of sounds and expressions that you could absorb. By listening to all the materials, over time you will hear every part of the LEX stories in all the languages.
Play the LEX audio materials as often as you can, wherever possible: at home, in the car, at the gym, or at work. The languages are spoken at natural speeds. The more you listen, the more your ears will become attuned to the sounds of each language. Soon, you will be able to recognize each of the languages. You will find yourself declaring, “Oh, this sounds like French!” or “Yes, I recognize that as Chinese!” We encourage you to look at the text only after becoming familiar with the sounds of the language, as with your first language(s).
Patience is definitely rewarded. I am amazed at how the mass of sounds starts assembling itself into words and phrases after a while. - A Listener
Singing the Sounds
As you actively listen to the stories and mimic along, you will be producing what we call the “big wave” of language. You should not expect to say each expression perfectly, but instead try to “sing” along with the languages, mimicking the sound and rhythm of the voice on the recording. This is similar to what we do when we hum along with music or how babies babble along as their parents speak to them. Soon, without even realizing it, through mimicking, your “big wave” will get smaller and smaller until you can mimic the audio quite accurately and begin to understand what you’re saying.
The voices on the recordings are male and female, children and adults. Each story has musical cues and sound effects to help you know what part you’re listening to. When you hear the violin music, for example, you will know the scenes are changing, and when the plates are clinking, you’ll know dinner at the Browns’ house is finished! With time, by becoming familiar with the story line in your native language and recognizing these musical cues and sound effects, you will have a context from which you will naturally start acquiring words and phrases in new languages.
“Don’t be shy about “singing along” with the audio. I make most of my progress on solo car trips. The LEX materials are great traveling companions. I can mimic all I want, as loudly as I want. And when I get drowsy, the songs wake me up. Mimicking is active, just listening is passive, and I find that active learning produces much better results.
Using Your New Languages
In addition to listening to your LEX audio materials, it is extremely important that you seek out opportunities to use the languages you are learning. If you are a LEX Language Project member you'll be able to do that at your language club meetings. If you don't join a club, you'll need to make some extra effort.
You may be able to do this by hosting a LEX visitor from overseas, by traveling on a LEX exchange program, or by meeting new people in your own neighborhood. In making the effort to speak, you will gain confidence using the language in real life situations and have the opportunity to gauge your progress. Regular interaction with native speakers will also keep you inspired and help maintain your motivation to learn more!
Make friends with native speakers of as many of the languages as you can. Real communication is the best type of active learning. - A Listener