Do Language Learning Audio Tapes Really Work?

December 15th, 2009 | by admin |

The audio tape language learning technique took a boost in popularity in the early 90s, when it was considered one of the most prolific learning methods of those times. As with all things that grow too popular for their own good, competition tried to take advantage and turn this popularity into something negative, stating that they can teach you the language better and faster than “those stereotypical, boring, inefficient audio tapes”. Slowly, their fame went down and people started wondering if they actually work, after hearing how numerous competitors in the language learning market can do better and how they can do it faster. This article will try to shed some light on this subject and answer the question as to whether audio language learning tapes really work or not.

Most language learning specialists will agree that reading and listening are two extremely important factors for getting the basics and for improving the vocabulary of any given foreign language. Although reading sources are extremely easy to find (in local libraries, on the Internet, etc) listening ones aren’t. Audio language learning tapes and the country’s media culture are pretty much the only things that offer you something to listen to (and if that particular country’s media culture is not very developed or it lacks completely, audio tapes are all you have left).

No one can really decide on which of the two methods, reading or listening, is better for learning a new language. Reading has the advantage of allowing you to memorize words quicker and for longer periods of time (cause visual memory is more powerful than audio memory) but then again you only have a rough idea on how to pronounce these new words. Audio tapes on the other hand, provide a good way to get your pronunciation skills up and running and also have the advantage of getting you familiar with using the foreign language in an actual conversation.

Truth be told, the best audio language learning tapes come together with reading material that complement what you hear. Some come with exact transcriptions of the audio, so you can read through while you’re hearing things (helping you understand and memorize what the tape is saying better) while others provide translations of the stuff said on tape, which allows you to compare words, grammar rules, etc. If you have a choice, I would recommend getting an audio tape that has an exact transcription attached to it, since this helps a lot in attaining a powerful vocabulary and in learning how to pronounce words correctly.

So to answer the question, do language learning audio tapes really work? Yes they do, provided they have a decent quality and they take the learning process up gradually. Despite the slight fall in popularity, audio tapes remain one of the main language learning methods and if you’ve considered starting a new language at home, an audio tape might be the thing for you. Please note that you can order or download several such audio language learning recordings over the internet.

Michael Gabrikow


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