Listening on the Job During the Workday

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Re: Listening on the Job During the Workday

Postby Aozora » Tue Apr 04, 2017 2:36 pm

coldrainwater wrote: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)?

Interesting topic! I think I've found that sweet spot for listening while working. I work from home doing freelance sewing, and I know pretty well which tasks I can incorporate listening and which I cannot. Cutting fabric, machine sewing, and hand-stitching I can do while listening. Writing emails to clients, checking references, drafting patterns, or planning anything out, I have to stop the audio. Basically, if the task requires deliberate thought, problem solving, or the linguistic side of my brain, I can't listen to audio at the same time (unless it's non-distracting music). I often listen to L1 content, though. In your case, you may not be able to listen to meaningful content due to the nature of your work.

My main problem with L2 audio, is that I can't do short clips that require me to stop and find another clip to listen to every couple of minutes. And if the audio is incomprehensible I find I just tune out and start having my own thoughts. For any content I listen to while working, I prefer it to be 30 minutes to an hour in length. Long audiobooks I tend to find mentally draining, I think because it goes on and on with no break.
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Re: Listening on the Job During the Workday

Postby qeadz » Tue Apr 04, 2017 5:41 pm

I am a computer programmer. I have not found a way to integrate language learning into my workday successfully. The *only* kind of music I can listen to while working is trance music - without vocals.

However I am a coffee drinker so when others might pop out for a smoke break, I'll go get coffee. Its a great opportunity to do 5 minutes of reading or something along those lines.

Every so often there are less thought-intensive tasks and then I can happily put something language-related on to listen to while doing them.
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Re: Listening on the Job During the Workday

Postby Steve » Tue Apr 04, 2017 5:48 pm

I've been an analyst and engineer/scientist. Splitting my attention means I can simultaneously do 2 things poorly. :)

The only exception to this is when I'm doing something where I have frequent pauses where I am waiting for something to process. Using the couple minute breaks where I'd normally be annoyed at waiting makes a nice time to do short listening things.

I spent 20 years walking to work which was a nice time to have an MP3 player. I spent a couple years with a 20 minute drive in the country with minimal traffic which was nice for listening to Assimil Spanish. I'm now mostly working from home which means I can write things like this while waiting for magnetic simulations to run.
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Re: Listening on the Job During the Workday

Postby BOLIO » Tue Apr 04, 2017 9:10 pm

I listen to audiobooks during work. However, they are all books I have read / listened to before...never a new book. Also, I sometimes turn on to and play old series I have seen before. I minimize the screen and just listen to the audio.
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Re: Listening on the Job During the Workday

Postby Ingaræð » Tue Apr 04, 2017 9:45 pm

Someone's done a study on which genres of music are the best to listen to whilst working, taking into account what type of work you're doing:

I guess this might also apply to music in another language?
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Re: Listening on the Job During the Workday

Postby Bebetter » Tue Apr 04, 2017 11:46 pm

I am pretty lucky, I have 2 fifteen minutes breaks I have to take at some point during the day. I normally spend both 15 mins walking around our lake listening to podcasts. I have often thought about doing FSI lessons while walking but I think I enjoy listening to my Star Wars podcasts more.
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Re: Listening on the Job During the Workday

Postby Serpent » Wed Apr 05, 2017 12:47 am

Although I'm more of an aural learner I like having Twitter notifications pop up in the corner of my screen. Of course most of my twitter feed is non-Russian.
I also like the idea of listening to a film I've seen before but I've not actually done that.
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Re: Listening on the Job During the Workday

Postby Adrianslont » Wed Apr 05, 2017 1:40 am

Serpent wrote:Although I'm more of an aural learner I like having Twitter notifications pop up in the corner of my screen. Of course most of my twitter feed is non-Russian.
I also like the idea of listening to a film I've seen before but I've not actually done that.

One of the reasons I like talk shows, news podcasts and Thomas and Friends cartoons is because they all pretty much contain non-stop talk. I find movies and many cartoons contain lots of stretches of silence, music or noisy, dialogue-free action sequences. These make movies and many cartoons too ponderous or annoying for me.

BUT if you try a movie, let us know about your experience - I'd be interested to hear about it!
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Re: Listening on the Job During the Workday

Postby coldrainwater » Wed Apr 05, 2017 4:49 am

Thanks to each of you who have responded for providing such a wealth of information, advice and shared experience. I will do my best to contribute something as well (and ideally follow through with some experiential notes along the way).

In turn:

As luke mentioned, I definitely listen while I workout and so far this has been safe. I tend to run stairs at lunch for roughly 40-60 minutes and get about that much listening in plus a ten minute cool down. Training at lunch is a good match for listening and it knocks the inches right off of any food-based alternative. Listening quality however, is lower at lunch for me because some of my training is very intense and I get other distractions as well since we train as a group. I also often take a second one hour run later in the evening as a work break to clear up my mind. That is used partly to let my brain stew on and solve work-related problems. This is probably my best time of the 'work day' to listen to my TL as well. When I get back to the office, I do have solutions to many problems that I am working on without devoting 'conscious' and focused time them (not to mention a fresh mind with some cerebral blood flow from the jog.)

Adrianslong, yes I am currently using my commute time for listening practice. I have a seven minute commute to work via car, but may be able to extend it somewhat by jogging in to work. There is much to be said about language listening and driving, but in my case, it is probably a net detriment (for my specific commute currently). I am pinching minutes at that point. I definitely would like to see a whole thread on listening while driving as it has many facets to explore. I even think it is an interesting idea to intentionally use a weekend day every now and again and drive on a long straight road with no end in sight and TL on the buds. I'd give it a go if I thought my old junker would actually make the distance. I supposed there is always Hertz.

Whodathunkitz, I put up a complete list of ZombieLand rules (in English) and it was quite a success at the office. I will likely get one all in my TL if I can snag it. On a similar note, I have thought about posting the best lyrics I can find and then playing an awesome song in TL on repeat for overlearning. I have a tough time seeing major language learning from that though (inefficient on multiple levels). As a side note, that will likely be how I introduce myself to my L3 since I happen to really enjoy their music.

Adrianslong, I agree with you about avoiding phone conversation whenever possible. I have to be pretty desperate to initiate a phone call, and due to the well-known importance of working memory when writing computer programs, I am as considerate as possible to others as well.

Systematiker, I have a strong feeling that my listening proclivities are very similar to what you describe. Viz., as Spanish gets easier for me to listen to, I will have fewer issues incorporating it. Intensive flows to extensive (or rather intensive primes extensive). My Day 0 experience today pretty much had me tuning out the music that was playing completely in order to do my work. Music and podcasts are both a step up for me in difficulty and I am only in month two of my dedicated listening practice. It will be interesting to see how the cards fall.

Aozora, I think you have a really good idea. It may boil down to mindfully noticing and taking advantage of times when listening is possible without sweating the times when it is not. That may be the very best action plan. Simply be mindful and aware of the opportunities (even if you cannot predict when they surface). In your case, you might benefit by downloading a ton of content in advance in mp3 format and simply throwing them all in a big playlist, so that, long or short, you never have to hit pause. It possibly depends on what audio resources you choose and specifically how you are trying to challenge yourself (where your exact weakest point is, which is something that may shift often). Rolling your own playlist has the advantage of listening to 'exactly' what you want and need to hear.

qeadz, I live in SQL and to a lesser extent Visual Studio. I have found ways (multiple) of integrating language learning with programming, but not via listening. I may post a few of the things I have thought of for the programming inclined if there is interest. In a strict work environment, I would imagine most of what I do would not work well.

Steve, I know what you mean. When I put on my sysadmin hat, I absolutely have been in the same boat. Some things just need to be monitored and that is perfect listening minutes. My list of nightly jobs may be longer than my working L2 wordlist. (Hmmm.... this seems to be taking longer than 5 minutes....let's make an agent job for it (and another job to make sure the agent does not fail)).

I'll see if I can muster some additional writing energy and scribble a few of the things I have done on my own in a subsequent post.

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What I Have Done at the Workplace

Postby coldrainwater » Wed Apr 05, 2017 5:28 am

In the first several months of my language studies, it appears that the most reliable thing I managed to do early on was to avoid listening practice (this was a serious but not fatal error). A few things I did manage to do during the workday might spark some interest (and might intertwine with listening ideas). To expand, I :

  • Use emails and other communicators to write in my target language. Most of my coworkers find language intriguing but are unlikely to make an effort to learn a new spoken language from the ground up. I can however, write to them and get them tend to respond without using direct English thanks to an ever improving Google Translate. Where this may matter is that it shines an inroad or path of lower resistance that might benefit a few people who have trouble getting started with language learning.
  • To be more precise, what I actually do is find their language preferences (by directly asking point blank). Short business communications are common and I write simple/brief emails in the language that interests them most (for the record, French seems to be a big favorite).
  • Use a Windows based hotkey program to make lookups to google translate, wordfeference, forvo, google image search, etymology websites, or anything else I want in order to automate my TL questions and to help bring ES alongside EN (for me). This is important to avoid wasting extra time using the TL. Using TL as a part of the work day needs to be smooth and you need to have enough will power not to drop the reading/writing part every time a business problem emerges.
  • My business notes as well as stored procedures often have text in Spanish or German.
  • Have very cool CEO, who also wishes to learn ES and I share with him some of my discoveries over what works and what does not. We both went through a short RS phase for example. I'll let you guess on which side that coin fell.
  • Due to my physical work building, I have had limited time to speak directly with bilingual ES natives (since last November anyhow) but that will likely change soon. Too much to write about that, but it is a good resource to know who is fluent around you and what type of cultural and linguistic interactions interest them.
  • If I had to sum it up verbosely, I would say the most successful work approach for me has been to weave my TL into the fabric of my daily work as much as possible. Language and communication play a huge role in everyday life and more English is not always better. It forces you to think if you make yourself use as little English as is required to efficiently communicate. It also gives you a chance to see what happens as you move from circumlocution as a rank beginner to more concise utterings in your TL. The reactions of others around you are good information markers.
  • I have also tried (partly successful) directly speaking almost entirely in Spanish. Probably the best comment I can make here is that it takes a very strong will power to do that at a lower level when you work with a group where 95% of the work force does not expect you to know more than Hola and is often not comfortable uttering non-English anything. The struggle, in my case, has little to do with my willingness to speak, but rather with needing to be able to handle the reactions of others when you are intentionally (but nicely and in mutual friendly gest) speaking in a language that they may not understand at all.

Perhaps you may be able to relate to one or two of the points above or find them helpful in your own journey.

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