Repeated listening and why it works


We've described the differences between repeated and extensive listening before. Our stories are ideal for repeated listening and we believe that this is a more practically useful method for learners given the difficulty of finding multiple versions of the same thing.


Here we describe what the research says about the steps involved in understanding what we listen to and why we believe this supports our belief in the value of repeated listening.

John Field (2014) has described the steps in the process of listening by which we work out meaning. He describes five phases.

First - the decoding phase

This involves recognising and identifying sounds. Without this taking place, it's impossible to identify words.

Second - searching through memory

Here the listener, having managed to identify individual sounds and build them into words, searches through their memory for words they know that match, or nearly match, sounds they have just heard.

Third - analysing context

This involves analysing the grammatical context of individual words in a clause or sentence. This is where the listener works out what job an individual word does in a sentence, such as showing 'where' something is or ‘what' something is doing.

Fourth - building meaning

This is a consolidating phase. It builds on the work done in the the previous phases by ascribing meaning to the whole clause or sentence.

Fifth - working out overall meaning

This is known as discourse construction and is where the listener works out the overall meaning of a monologue, dialogue, paragraph by linking the meanings of individual clauses and combining these into an understanding of the text as a whole.

These phases describe what happens when we process language that we listen to. They happen automatically when listening to languages that we know but, of course, many learners get lost at various stages along the way.

This is where we believe repeated listening becomes useful. Learners, particularly for early stage learners, can benefit from listening to the same stories multiple times. Starting simple, at Elementary level, for instance, they can work up until they are capable and confident of managing longer, complex stories.

Here's a list of our Elementary titles if you want to give it a try