The human hand is an amazing thing, but you can’t do everything you want all at once.
Luckily, you don’t have to use your hands to learn a language, since audio makes it possible to study a language without lifting a finger.
This means you can enjoy audio courses, language learning podcasts and innovative language apps, all while saving your hands for other activities.
Plus, if you’re able to listen to language content while doing other things, your learning experience can be that much closer to language immersion.
- Why Try Hands-free Language Learning?
- Look, Mom! No Hands! 6 Hands-free Language Learning Options
- How to Get the Most Out of Your Hands-free Language Learning
Why Try Hands-free Language Learning?
One reason to go hands-free is to fit studying into even the busiest schedule. Since you can study while you drive, cook, scrapbook, etc., you don’t have to set aside any additional time outside of your normal routine.
Additionally, using hands-free language learning can help you make productive use of time you’d otherwise be bored. Let’s face facts: some activities are just plain boring. For instance, while you certainly wouldn’t want to cut showering out of your schedule, it probably isn’t the highlight of your day entertainment-wise. Hands-free learning can turn boring tasks like this into productive learning opportunities.
Plus, hands-free language learning can give you great listening and speaking practice. With conventional textbook learning, listening and speaking practice can be hard to come by. However, they’re some of the most important skills when you learn a new language. Hands-free language learning gives you an easy opportunity to focus exclusively and extensively on listening and speaking.
Look, Mom! No Hands! 6 Hands-free Language Learning Options
Since Pimsleur’s approach is primarily audio-based, it’s a top contender for anyone interested in hands-free language learning.
Through 30-minute audio lessons, Pimsleur teaches key vocabulary and grammar and encourages you to actually use the language.
Conveniently enough, Pimsleur also offers text-based resources, like digital flashcards, reading lessons and matching games, that you can use to augment your learning whenever you’re ready to use your hands again.
Pimsleur has apps and digital downloads. CDs are also available, though more limited.
In total, Pimsleur has learning options for over 50 languages, including common choices, like Chinese, French and Spanish—and less common offerings, like Albanian, Finnish and Ojibwe.
Collins Paul Noble series
The Paul Noble series from Collins packs a hands-free punch.
This audio-based series is like a vocabulary binge since the primary focus is on vocabulary acquisition. If you want to see the words in writing, there’s also an accompanying booklet.
Paul Noble’s courses often use innovative formats. Many of them feature two students who you learn alongside, while Paul and a native speaker guide you through the learning process.
Downloads are available, but you can also find some CDs of the series.
The series is available for Chinese, French, German, Italian and Spanish.
Behind the Wheel series
The name says it all. This series is specifically designed for commuters to listen to behind the wheel, but you don’t have to be driving to let this program steer your learning.
The structure is designed to be flexible so you can easily cram some learning into whatever time you have. The program focuses on teaching high-frequency words and sentence-building techniques with the goal of giving you the functional language skills you’ll need.
It also comes with transcripts and additional exercises for you to enjoy when you’re not behind the wheel.
Behind the Wheel is available on CD or for download.
Language offerings include Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.
Podcasts are a great way to pass the time. But what if they could also help skyrocket you towards fluency?
With LanguagePod101, you’ll never be lacking for resources to help propel you towards fluency without the need to lift a finger. That’s because LanguagePod101 offers lots of language learning podcasts you can listen to through the website, desktop software or mobile apps.
But if your hands are getting twitchy and want to get in on the learning action, you can also use LanguagePod101’s videos, flashcards, lesson notes and more.
LanguagePod101 offers over 30 languages, including both common languages and less common offerings, like Afrikaans, Bulgarian, Cantonese, Norwegian and Vietnamese.
Here are some of their more popular languages:
Coffee Break Languages
Radio Lingua’s Coffee Break Languages is a series of podcasts for language learners.
Each podcast has a specific focus, whether it be a difficult construction, tricky verb or scenario you need to prepare for.
Audio lessons are free, but purchasing the premium version can score you additional audio materials, video flashcards and lesson notes.
Coffee Break Languages is available for Chinese, French, German, Italian and Spanish.
MosaLingua has a lot to offer. For eager language learners, there are plenty of flashcards, dialogues and audio pronunciations to guide you on your road to fluency. Plus, they’re all backed by scientific techniques designed to improve your learning.
But now MosaLingua has gone and gilded the lily by creating an update that allows you to use the apps hands-free. This way, you can play through the flashcards and hear each word in English and your target language for easy studying.
MosaLingua offers English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Hands-free Language Learning
Pair hands-free learning with hands-on learning.
Hands-free learning has a lot to offer, but because it doesn’t offer written words, you’ll need to use a hands-on approach sometimes. Luckily, the world wide web is filled with language programs that can supplement our hands-free learning!
While there’s a lot of detail we can go into here, a few programs or tools you could look into are Pimsleur, Rosetta Stone and Duolingo. FluentU is an option that combines quick hands-off activities with hands-on learning, with audio courses and native language videos that are followed by personalized quizzes and multimedia flashcards.
Listen whenever you have a spare minute.
Since hands-free options are so convenient, listen whenever you have a spare minute, whether you’re waiting in line, brushing your teeth or working out. Those minutes really add up. plus listening often can keep the language fresh in your brain and prevent backsliding and forgetting what you’ve learned.
Engage with the audio.
Talk back! Audio gives you listening practice, but as long as you speak up, you’ll also get speaking practice. A lot of audio programs specifically instruct you to repeat what you hear. But even if your program doesn’t recommend this, do it anyway to perfect your pronunciation and cement vocabulary into your memory.
Try a variety of programs.
There are lots of hands-free language programs, so it’s important to find what works best for you. Trying a variety of programs will expose you to multiple approaches and varied content, giving you a broader perspective on hands-free learning and a clearer idea of what works for you.
Visualize the written words as you listen.
Again, the main downside of hands-free learning is that you don’t get any reading or writing practice. However, if you already have some familiarity with the language, you can visualize written words as you listen. This will help you connect the spoken and written words so that when you see what you learned in writing, you’ll actually recognize it.
Go ahead—try the hands-off approach to language learning!