I am currently trying to learn new languages.


I've heard of this method calling passive learning for language learning. However, there are many articles that say it's useless (https://www.mezzoguild.com/passive-language-learning).

So, as I ask, how effective is passive learning for learning pronunciation? Are there well known psychological studies that prove otherwise? Is it really worth it? How do people really learn the pronunciation of a second language? Seriously, is it a waste of time?

  • 1
    If the focus of the question of pronunciation, could you please edit the question title (e.g. Is passive learning effective for learning the pronunciation of a foreign language?)? It would also be helpful if you could add what you mean by passive learning in the context of language learning.
    – Tsundoku
    Nov 30, 2018 at 10:23
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    Also, if evidence from psychological studies are a requirement for valid answers, please add the reference-request tag.
    – Tsundoku
    Nov 30, 2018 at 10:27

1 Answer 1


Passive learning methods are useful to acquire passive language skills, i.e. listening, and maybe reading. If you want to learn to speak you have to practice speaking. To write good prose you need to practice writing, etc.

Yes, listening and reading helps but it can't be the only, or even main method of learning. Listen to music or podcasts in your target language on your commute, watch shows or cartoons when you're too tired to practice, but you have to practice producing the language as well.

You need to wire new connections in your brain that will be used when you speak your new language but the only way to do it is to try speaking. Most languages have different sets of sounds than your own language (whichever it is). You will never be able to speak fluently if you don't practice speaking a lot.


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