How To Do More Listening – Zero Motivation Required!

how to listen moreWe all have trouble finding the time to study.

But what if getting exposure to your target language was automatic and you had to make the conscious choice not to study?

This is a simple, effective hack for the motivationally-challenged, which I learnt from Olle Linge, over at the awesome Hacking Chinese blog.

It can help you set up an immersion environment and make huge strides forward in getting enough listening practice.

Following this procedure will set up a foreign language internet radio station to auto-play every time you turn on your computer in the morning.

As Olle said in the interview where I first heard this hack, do this and you have to actually make the choice to turn it off and not get listening practice!

Let's do it.

Getting it set up

1. Download and install the VLC media player on your computer.

2. Open up the internet menu on the left-hand side of the screen.

3. Click on the Icecast Radio Directory, then wait 30 seconds or so for it to populate.

4. Select a radio station that's in your target language, or use the search function (if you're not sure which, you can google: internet radio + language).

5. Double-click it and it will fire up. See if you like it.



Now for setting up the auto-play. This is where it gets a little bit trickier.

Configuring auto-play

1. You need to make a new playlist with the radio station you've chosen. Simply drag your chosen station into the Playlist folder in the left side-bar, like so:

vlc listen more

2. Go to the File menu, then select Save Playlist. Save the playlist file somewhere you will remember.

3. What this has done is to create a playlist file which can be clicked on to automatically open VLC and start your radio station. In order to auto-play this when you turn on the computer, you need to make that file open on startup.

To configure auto-play on startup, follow the instructions below.

MAC users 

1. Open System Preferences from the dock, and select Users & Groups.

2. In the new window, click Login Items and add your new playlist file by clicking the “+” button. Done!

user groups

open on startup

PC users

1. Click the Start button, click All Programs, right-click the Startup folder, and then click Open.

2. Open the location that contains your playlist file.

3. Right-click the file, and then click Create Shortcut. The new shortcut appears in the same location.

4. Drag the shortcut into the Startup folder.


A couple of hints

For this to be effective you need to do two things, I think.

Firstly, take some time to find a decent radio station – there's no point choosing a Spanish radio station that plays Britney Spears all day long!

Secondly, for this to work, you actually have to turn your computer off in the evening!

This is where I fell down, but I think it's a good habit to get into for many productivity-related reasons!

Also, don't worry if you can't understand much of what they say on the radio station…or even anything!

The aim here is not to study the radio, but just to increase your passive exposure to the language, at times when you'd otherwise be in silence.

Click here for more about how to improve your listening skills

If you can do this even for a short time everyday, the time spent listening will really add up over the months!

Thanks again to Olle Linge for this, and don't forget to head over to Hacking Chinese for many more Chinese language hacks.

Know anyone that would benefit from this article? Please share on Facebook or send a Tweet! Then, leave me a comment below to let me know if it would work for you!

Image: pedroled

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