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Man listening while he sleeps

Listen to English While You Sleep

It has been a hard-fought topic on both sides of the debate. Can you really learn a language in your sleep?

The idea is to listen to English audio while you are sleeping, making your brain acquire the language without you consciously realizing it. That all sounds well and good, great even, but it’s important to consider the actual benefits of this type of learning before you dedicate yourself to it.

Listening as you sleep is considered passive learning. Your brain is not reacting to the audio in the same way that it does when you are awake.

Listening while awake is considered active learning. You are consciously involved in the material being spoken to you and are making efforts to store the information you learn into your memory.

The more effective method may seem obvious—if you are actively learning, your results will be much more solidified than if you were to learn passively. Yet the desire to pick up a foreign language without doing any real work or putting in any extra time tempts people time and time again to go straight to the passive learning method.

Don’t get your hopes too high if you’re in on this game, chances are you’ll be sorely disappointed. You cannot connect ideas and remember things the same way when you are asleep as when you are awake, making a lot of what you hear fall flat.

Passive learning can be used as a tool if you insist on it, but the only way for this to work is if you actively study the material first and use passive learning as a review method.

My recommendation? Focus on actively learning English, during waking hours. There are endless opportunities for you to get started. Podcasts, YouTube videos, learning games, and apps will help you learn on your own, and connecting with a language exchange partner will give you the opportunity to work one-on-one with someone who can guide you through the challenges of learning English. Connect with a language exchange partner through LRNGO, both locally and across the world via Skype, or see if there’s a language exchange Meetup somewhere near you where you can connect with a group of people interested in learning a new language.

So the consensus here is that listening while you sleep is not the best route of learning. Focus your energy in actively participating in your learning and, as long as you remain dedicated, you will see results.

Photo Credit: Nana B Agyei
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