Learning By Listening
Lots of people are talking about iPods and MP3 players these days. Perhaps you’re even considering buying one for yourself or someone on your Christmas list. Most of the people that are buying MP3 players are young music lovers that download music from the Internet. Downloading free, illegal, copies of songs is still quite easy to do, but I do not recommend it. Besides being dishonest and bad for the economy, it can be dangerous. However, there are a lot of legal places to obtain downloadable music for a reasonable price.
Listening to music is nice, but the thing I like about my MP3 player is the ability to listen to the spoken word. You can listen as a family or as individuals. There are podcasts and audio books available to fit the needs of every member of the family.
Listen as Individuals
Homeschool students can listen to classic books while they do their chores or ride their bikes. Kids can listen to the Friend Magazine in bed before falling asleep. Mom can turn on a history podcast and kids can listen while they illustrate the story. There is nothing like listening to the original radio broadcasts of the D-day invasion to bring history alive! Did you know that President Roosevelt wrote a special prayer for D-day and asked the nation to join him in saying the prayer? I didn't! It was a moving experience to listen to the newscaster read the prayer slowly so that people could write it down in order to be ready to read it with the President at a later hour. It was a beautiful prayer and I have never seen that in any textbook! (Unfortunately the free site that I heard it on is no longer available, but you can purchase it here.)
There are a lot of old time radio shows that appeal to children, too. You can put hundreds of stories on one MP3 CD for your children to listen to in the car, at the doctor’s office, or any time. Classic literature is available free or to purchase on MP3 and you can download it immediately. There’s no waiting in line and no shipping charges!
Most homeschool parents feel that it is important to set a good example to their children by continuing to learn and develop their own talents, but sometimes it's difficult to find the time to actually sit down and read a book when you have so much to do already in addition to homeschooling. he great thing about listening on MP3 is that I can listen while I do those things. It is so rejuvenating for me to listen while washing dishes, folding clothes, cooking, cleaning, gardening, walking, or whatever I have to do that doesn’t take a lot of concentration. It’s like taking a mini-vacation! Homeschooling moms often want to read the books their children are reading and they want to read what they are interested in as well.
Dads like to listen to books on MP3 too! It's especially popular to listen while commuting to and from work and with MP3s there's no fumbling with CDs while driving! Dad can listen to the same book the family listens to at home and then they can also discuss it together at the dinner table in the evening.
Listen as Families
Families can listen to classic literature, historical fiction, science podcasts, church magazines, and much more while riding in the car. You can have a daily story time where the family gathers together to listen to great speeches instead of watching TV. You can bring General Authorities' voices into your Family Home Evenings. I played a portion of the late apostle Matthew Cowley talking about Miracles (given in 1953) in my seminary class one morning. It really brought the lesson alive! The students loved hearing Elder Cowley tell the stories himself rather than just reading it from a paper. They also learned that he was quite funny. It made Elder Cowley seem more like a real person than just a name on a piece of paper. Your family would enjoy hearing it also.
There are free podcasts for nearly any subject your family member is interested in. In the past 12 months, I have listened to over 50 books on a wide variety of subjects and most of it was free (I do belong to an audio book club for $15 a month). I've read classics, how-to books, bestsellers, LDS books, and more. In addition to those 50 books, I have also listened to the Ensign and New Era magazines each month, hundreds of BYU devotional addresses, dozens of Women’s Conference and BYU Education Week lectures, dozens of old time radio programs and many old news broadcasts. I also listen to news programs, talk radio shows, geography podcasts, and more.
You can now purchase LDS books and music from Deseret Book, too!
What are MP3 Files and How do They Work?
MP3s are compressed audio files, most often songs, but they can also be other speech recordings like addresses and books. There are several ways to play MP3 files. The most common way is through an MP3 player. The thing I really enjoy about my small MP3 player is the portability. My MP3 player is only about 2 inches long, one inch wide and less than 1/2 an inch deep. It plugs directly into my computer through the USB port and I download the selections I want to listen to in just a few minutes. No CD is involved. If you have a large capacity MP3 player, you may be able to use it to store your entire music collection as well as other materials such as talks, scriptures, etc. If you have a smaller capacity, when you finish listening, simply delete whatever was on it and download something new.
Don't Have an MP3 Player?
If you don’t have an MP3 player, you can still listen to these files through your computer, certain CD players, or on many DVD players. If your computer is conveniently located, listening from there might be ideal for you, especially if you have small children and don’t want to wear earphones. More than one person can listen that way, too.
You can burn MP3 CDs from the downloaded files, which will then play on compatible CD players, on most DVD players and some cars with MP3 compatible CD players installed. The MP3 compatible CD players look like regular portable CD players, but in addition to regular CDs they have the capability of playing data (MP3) CDs. One regular size CD can hold the whole Triple Combination. I made one MP3 CD with 67 BYU devotionals on it (all free!). Many are old classics that you may enjoy hearing again or you may be too young to have heard them originally.
Regular audio CDs that play on all CD players can also be made from MP3s using Windows Media Player and other players. However, when making regular audio CDs, the files are no longer compressed so you can only put about 80 minutes on each CD. If you expect to listen often, you will save money in the long run by purchasing an MP3 compatible CD player and creating CDs with dozens of devotionals or other talks on them.
MP3 players come in a variety of types and styles and various prices depending on the features, maker and the amount of data they can hold. Some are very expensive, but you don’t have to spend a fortune to have the convenience of an MP3 player. Flash drive style MP3 players can be purchased at almost any electronics department for as little as about $50 and MP3-compatible CD players are even cheaper (about $30). More expensive models usually hold more files, but are not necessarily a better choice. If you’re buying for a child or teen, you probably don’t need to store thousands of songs and since MP3 players are small, they are easily lost and stolen.
Some people have told me that they don't like to listen to books because they sometimes find their mind drifting and realize they have missed part of the story. Everyone has different abilities and may prefer visual or auditory learning. I am a visual person, but with practice I have developed my ability to learn through listening. I recommend starting with speeches or short stories and working up to chapter books.
I can say that learning through listening has improved the quality of my life and refreshed my mind and improved the minds of my children.
I find the things I learn helpful for teaching experiences, making conversation, and simply being strengthened and uplifted. It is easier for me to face difficulties and temptations because of the inspirational items I choose to listen to that I wouldn't have time to sit down and read. I have read about people who had difficult challenges and overcame them and it gives me strength to face my own difficulties. In addition, my children and I have read a lot of books we wouldn't have time to read if we had to sit down with a book and listening has impacted our understanding and enjoyment of world history greatly. I feel that I am using my time more wisely which makes me feel better about myself. As an added bonus, I also found it motivates me to wash the dishes because I get to listen to great books while I wash!
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