Listening on the Job During the Workday

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Listening on the Job During the Workday

Postby coldrainwater » Tue Apr 04, 2017 2:52 am

I work in an office environment that is open and supportive of my language learning efforts. With that in mind, I have one part curiosity and a dabble of dilemma. For those of you in a similar boat who have managed to do so successfully, how did you initally incorporate listening on the job (and how do you do so now)? My career is as an analyst where I need to be mindfully focused on the problems I am solving for long periods of time (busy work left town). To that end, when I listen to music, I often need to ensure that there are no vocals. My TL is ES now, but I noticed that I can listen to German music as long as I don't understand any of the words (so far so good!).

There is likely a sweet spot that is hidden from my field of vision, but I am bumbling about in new territory at the moment and would prefer not to waste listening hours if I can take advantage of them. I purchased a pair of Bose noise cancelling headphones that rarely leave my person. In my case, podcasts and programming mix about as well as oil and water. The same is likely to be true for all listening materials that are designed as push activities to get listeners pay attention. I am thinking music, but am certainly open to different suggestions. The irony may be that, the better I get at listening to Spanish music, the less I will be able to listen to it on the job (and I can probably already understand it well enough for it to be a distraction).

Thanks in advance for your suggestions, feedback and stories of triumph.

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Re: Listening on the Job During the Workday

Postby luke » Tue Apr 04, 2017 9:36 am

If I'm doing relatively mindless things like organizing or deleting email that is not pertinent, I can listen while working.

If I need to be productive, gather information, or create something in a timely manner, then listening to foreign language materials is counterproductive to work tasks.

We have a gym at the office and I can and do listen there. When the exercise is intense, like intervals, the listening suffers, but that's okay. I'm still making some progress.
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Re: Listening on the Job During the Workday

Postby DangerDave2010 » Tue Apr 04, 2017 9:45 am

I complete my work extra fast, then listen while pretending to work.
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Re: Listening on the Job During the Workday

Postby Adrianslont » Tue Apr 04, 2017 11:03 am

DangerDave2010 wrote:I complete my work extra fast, then listen while pretending to work.

I have a variation on this that works if you have a job where you work extra unpaid hours: work extra fast and finish 20 minutes earlier each day, go home and study twenty minutes extra.

And I guess you are using your commute to study/listen?

Personally, I can't do meaningful work and listen to my native language radio, let alone another language. If my job was driving (also meaningful work), I could do it.
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Re: Listening on the Job During the Workday

Postby DaveBee » Tue Apr 04, 2017 11:41 am

Adrianslont wrote: If my job was driving (also meaningful work), I could do it.
It's surprising that something as complicated as driving requires so little concentration. It seems to be largely handled by automatic skills.
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Re: Listening on the Job During the Workday

Postby Ingaræð » Tue Apr 04, 2017 12:01 pm

DaveBee wrote:
Adrianslont wrote: If my job was driving (also meaningful work), I could do it.
It's surprising that something as complicated as driving requires so little concentration. It seems to be largely handled by automatic skills.

Changing gears, for example, will be a fairly automatic skill, but I think people underestimate how much concentration is really required for driving safely on public highways. Just look at the number of incidents involving vehicles on a daily basis.

Personally, I try to avoid anything that might take my focus away from what's happening on the road while I'm in control of a several-tonne lump of metal moving at 30 mph (or more)... ;)
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Re: Listening on the Job During the Workday

Postby Whodathunkitz » Tue Apr 04, 2017 12:45 pm

Ingaræð wrote:Changing gears, for example, will be a fairly automatic skill, but I think people underestimate how much concentration is really required for driving safely on public highways. Just look at the number of incidents involving vehicles on a daily basis.

Personally, I try to avoid anything that might take my focus away from what's happening on the road while I'm in control of a several-tonne lump of metal moving at 30 mph (or more)... ;)


I don't listen when I'm on multi-lane roads and it's busy. I prefer non-understandable lyrics then.

You tend to get undertaking, lane switching and the like when it's busy, but much less when quiet.

When it's quiet, it's ok, but I switch away from even noticing the audio when my attention is needed. The road always gets the bulk of my attention.

Back to the original poster, I think it's a really good question. I'd love to find a beneficial activity which I can do during work.

I have much more success with apps than textbooks. Partly my nature and partly due to being able to half do it while keeping an eye on and interacting with Kiddo and his questions, lego or play.

Ditto interacting with my wife, although she goes into a TV watching mode - intensive, usually one programme (series where she loses the ability to watch an episode after a few days), headphones on, absorbed then back to reality.

Similarly I don't watch any deep TV now, I can't isolate myself from the family and nor do I want to.

I suppose everything I do is kind of grey whereas my wife is more black and white.

Work for me used to be deep and intense thinking but is now a complete mix, mostly people - staff, colleagues, solutions, meetings.

I can't think of much to do.... other than print out and pin up verb tables for my wandering eye to latch upon.... ah!
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Re: Listening on the Job During the Workday

Postby Adrianslont » Tue Apr 04, 2017 1:08 pm

Ingaræð wrote:
DaveBee wrote:
Adrianslont wrote: If my job was driving (also meaningful work), I could do it.
It's surprising that something as complicated as driving requires so little concentration. It seems to be largely handled by automatic skills.

Changing gears, for example, will be a fairly automatic skill, but I think people underestimate how much concentration is really required for driving safely on public highways. Just look at the number of incidents involving vehicles on a daily basis.

Personally, I try to avoid anything that might take my focus away from what's happening on the road while I'm in control of a several-tonne lump of metal moving at 30 mph (or more)... ;)

I take driving very seriously and have an excellent driving record over several decades. I didn't mean to sound blasé about driving and don't consider myself a danger on the road.

The number of accidents on the road is terrible and most of them are caused by one of several causes: speeding, drink/drugged driving or breaking road rules. I do none of those.

I find taking a phone call, using Bluetooth of course, more distracting than listening to a news podcast or similar in my TLs, so I keep calls very short and sweet and I don't initiate them myself. I have found crying babies, quarelling children and shock jocks all more distracting than my foreign language audio. If I found it distracting, I wouldn't do it. Would you suggest that migrants/foreigners/tourists not be allowed to listen to a radio broadcast unless they had a certificate indicating a certain level of language proficiency?

Happily, much of driving is automated, even the safety aspects - much more automated than my job. Concentration is important but so too are good habits like being aware of what is happening ahead in the traffic, and with pedestrians in your vicinity, and driving defensively - I see too many people just concentrate on the car immediately in front of them and obviously give no thought to the existence of pedestrians or to the possibility that they might have to brake in an emergency.
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Re: Listening on the Job During the Workday

Postby Systematiker » Tue Apr 04, 2017 1:18 pm

During the workday, it depends on the task. If I'm doing administrative stuff or email I often listen, same with grading. Research, or preparing for Sundays, that needs focus. The parts where I'm with people as well, obviously.

Driving is a good time for my listening, personally, though as with workday listening I tend towards languages that I'm stronger in, so it's not a strain or a distraction.

Come to think of it, I actually never do learning materials with either set of activities and have success in both the activity and the learning. So I guess it's a matter of extensive vs intensive-style work.
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Re: Listening on the Job During the Workday

Postby Ingaræð » Tue Apr 04, 2017 2:02 pm

I am not berating anyone here for what they do or don't do while driving, and I do not claim to be a perfect driver myself. Who doesn't consider themselves a good driver, and that they aren't distracted by the radio or whatever else? That is completely subjective - no one is re-taking their driving test or having a brain scan to know if that's actually true. Driver distraction also is one of the main causes of incidents involving vehicles.

Either way, I don't want to get into an off-topic debate about this.
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