Making listening programs fun again… or something like that.

One day (and I truly mean one day) after reading an article about language learning on some blog I can no longer remember the names of, I bought my first Korean textbook and workbook. Over the next few months I would expand this collection of Korean language material to keyboards, vocabulary books, and most recently podcasts. Spongemind is a dual language podcast series, created and led by Johnson and Jeremy, which dedicates its content to teaching or aiding both Korean and English language learners in their journey to fluency.

My addiction to learning Korean came as a sort of challenge to myself after reading in that blog post Korean is one of the most or THE MOST difficult languages for English speakers to learn. I dove in and can honestly say I became near fluent in writing and reading Korean in the span of three days… but that is unfortunately where the ease ends. Korean is really very difficult! Attempting to make sense of what I was reading was futile. Sentence structure made my brain spin. I knew there had to be an easier way but I became a little disillusioned by the whole process—that is until I stumbled across Jeremy and Johnson after haphazardly typing “Korean language” in my podcast app search bar.

I feel this is a common way of finding our new favorite podcast programming. We search out of need and in my case subconscious desperation for a way to get past particular humps we may find ourselves on one side of. We search out of desire to know something more. I had always though podcasts for the NPR, radio-talk, types and found listening to people talk without seeing them difficult. This could be a common issue among the younger generation so used to the stimulation of multiple senses in entertainment.

Podcasts like 99% Invisible, have created a multi-platform viewing experience. Yes you can listen directly to the podcast in the traditional way, through your phone or tablet—but now entire websites have been developed around series. 99% Invisible is a great example of the easy to use multi-sensory listening experience with a loose transcription for those unable to listen. Spongemind has taken the same route and uses Spongemind.org to provide an online platform for their podcasts (hosted through Soundcloud) and videos of interviews with other learners of Korean and English and situational learning situations that you may come across.

I guess this post isn’t truly about the content of the readings but about the personal experience I have had with them. There are a few podcasts that I have tried but just can’t get into either because of the speaker’s voice or because I am not sold on the subject matter. I believe going into the Podcast world and truly diving into it without a lifejacket means having the safety vest of true interest in the subject. Oftentimes NPR puts me to sleep until there is a subject I am extremely interested in. Same thing with podcasting. True interest and significance is in the ear of the beholder.

-Lynn Robinson

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