Can You Learn Effectively Just By Listening?

Whenever I read other productivity blogs or articles, one of the things they almost always bring up is listening to podcasts or audio-books. As someone who takes a lot of pleasure in reading, I have always thought of this as an abominable way to learn something new, for me anyway. The reading experience is just the most appealing way for me to learn, especially when accompanied by diagrams or examples.

As the audio approach to learning just didn’t appeal to me and I wanted to spend more time being present when I was walking about outside, I had dismissed the advice as “not my thing” and carried on doing things the way I usually do, reading, applying, testing, repeat.

However, yesterday while doing housework, I took a certain amount of satisfaction and pleasure in listening to the next stage in my PRINCE2 course, only looking at the screen when I was moving my tablet around. It really helped the work seem less like work, and after I’d finished listening, I sat down to revise what I’d listened to.


After that success, today I decided I would listen to my course on my commute and that’s what I did. One thing I did notice was that I was more easily distracted with listening than I usually would be with reading. When I’m reading something or sat down watching something and taking notes, I can get completely engrossed in what I’m doing. While listening, I not only have to pay attention to what I am doing and where I am going, but I also find that other thoughts tend to pop in my head more often, or if not more often, they are more likely to successfully distract me!

At this point I don’t know if that’s just a normal downside of listening vs sitting down and reading, but it’s something I’m going to keep an eye (or an ear!) on, because if I don’t learn as well while listening then I could be tricking my mind into believing I’ve learned the content when I haven’t, thereby making it more difficult when it comes to revising. I can picture it now, “This seems familiar, but I don’t remember it. Was it actually here before, how did I miss it?”. Not a great situation to be in if you want to take an exam at the end!

Perhaps this could also become an opportunity to train my listening and concentration skills, I can go for the PRINCE2 exam any time I want after all and even if doing it this way does end up taking longer, I’ve given myself a 3 month target and at this point I feel like I can still manage that.

So audio learning, let’s see how it works out!

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