The best method for creating a listening immersion environment is to put a ton of movie, TV, and song mp3s on your Ipod, or other MP3 player, and listen to it as much as you can throughout the day. If you are already doing this, excellent. This is one of the most effective methods to improving your listening and speaking skills at the same. And remember, you won’t be listening directly most of the time. Just having it on in the background makes all the difference.
However, not all listening material is created equal, and I’ve discovered a few things that should you should take notice of.
Perils and Pitfalls:
1. Don’t put horror movies on your Ipod. Nothing is more painful than hearing loud screams in your ears.
2. Don’t put action/adventure movies on your Ipod. There is usually very little talking, and a lot of noise. The point of the Ipod immersion is for the dialogue. If there is no dialogue, and minutes of nothing but silence or music, than it is helping you minimally. Also these types of movies are a lot less enjoyable when you are only listening to them
3. If you want to include anime, do not include the whole series. Anime falls under the action movie problem, so choose episodes that are heavy on dialogue.
4. Don’t listen too loud. Yeah, I’m sure you’ve heard this one from your parents before. But if you are going to be using your Ipod immersion environment constantly throughout the day, every day, you don’t want to slowly lose your hearing.
5. Don’t listen to only songs. Make sure to diversify what type of material you are listening to. Songs are great, but dramas are better.
6. Don’t include dramas/movies that involve constant use of another language. This sounds obvious, and it is unfortunate because some really good dramas have constant use of English/Chinese/Korean
The High Ground:
1. Include listening material with high replay value. This usually includes whatever makes you laugh, cry, or moves you.
2. Include material that has some kind of philosophical underpinning. Every time you listen to it, maybe you will become a better person.
3. Split up your movie mp3s. 2 hours is too long for one track, and usually you are listening to your Ipod with breaks in between depending on your daily routine. Make it 3 parts, and enjoy the 3 parts separately.
4. Constantly delete/update your playlist. That comedy was great the first 200 times you heard it, but now when you hear it, it is a chore. I usually have around 250 files at a time, and whenever new stuff goes in, old stuff goes out.
5. Make sure you use a high quality mp3 converter. When you are converting your video/DVD files to mp3 for your own listening, the sound quality is vital. Nothing turns you off more than a hard to hear, tinny mp3. There are plenty of free or cheap mp3 converters out there. It is worth dishing out a little extra money for quality.
6. Choose specific episodes from a series. Not all episodes are created equally, and while you may have loved the series 結婚出来ない男, it may be annoying to listen to the one episode where all he does is interact with the dog.
I’m curious to hear other suggestions as well. Leave a comment and I will happily add them to this post!