Portable MP3 Players

Posted on | March 16, 2007 | 6 Comments

Language learners nowadays may not need a language textbook, but definitely they must have a portable MP3 player.

This may sound obvious to many, but there are still people out there who don’t feel the need. You CD player or laptop are just not enough. You need an audio device that is highly portable and its contents can be updated frequently at ease. Not only do you need one, you also need one that is suitable for language learning.

After struggling for more than 2 months, I finally bought myself a 2G 2nd generation iPod Nano last November. The reason for my struggle? Well, I already had another portable MP3 player. Why would I need another one? The main reason I used to convince myself (and my wife) for getting the iPod was its ease of handling podcasts. As a bonus, it turns out to be a better device for language learning, too. Here are some of its nice features over my old player:

1) Easy Sync-up
New language resources keep coming out everyday, and the content of the player need to be updated frequently. I sync-up my iPod at least once a day. My old MP3 player works like a USB drive (a.k.a. memory stick) and it has a mini-USB port. Every time I need to sync it up, I have to grab my mini-USB adapter, connect my player and laptop with it, wait for the device to show up in my Windows Explorer, find my audio files, and drag them into my player. With my iPod, I just need to connect it to my laptop, and off I go to make my cup of nice tea.

2) Ease of navigation within an audio track
I often need to jump back and forth within a language track. My old MP3 player gives me such a pain when I want to do so. It has this conventional ‘hold the button until you reach the place’ style. But with the intuitive ‘Click-wheel’ of my iPod, I can easily and quickly navigate to the section I want to listen.

3) Lyric display
As described in my previous post, I believe listening with transcripts is a very effective way to improve my listening. Many podcasters already embed the transcripts in their audio files. I can also do it myself. With my iPod Nano, I can view the transcripts on the display while listening. With this in mind, I don’t recommend the screenless iPod shuffle for language learning.

My old MP3 player does have one feature my iPod is missing, which I think is useful for language learning:

Play sections of a track
When listening to podcasts, I frequently want to skip the starting/ending music, self-promotions of the hosts, and other useless stuff and get right to the actual contents. My old MP3 player allows me to select part of the track and have it played repeatedly. My iPod does not.

If you are learning a language and don’t have an MP3 player, GET ONE NOW! If you already have one but it is not suitable for language learning, I recommend you to get one that is. You don’t have to get an iPod, but at least a player with the features mentioned above.

Comments

6 Responses to “Portable MP3 Players”

  1. 米蘭
    March 16th, 2007 @ 10:24 am

    I didn’t know about this lyric display. That is very useful. Thanks.

  2. Mimi
    March 16th, 2007 @ 7:21 pm

    The iPod can also be set to only play part of a track, i iTunes, just choose the track, click Get Info and under the Options tab is place to set a Start Time and End Time.

  3. edwinlaw
    March 17th, 2007 @ 12:21 pm

    Mimi, thanks for the advice. I never knew there is such a feature. But too bad it is only in iTunes. This means every time I need to change the markers, I have to do it in iTunes and sync it back to my iPod. Not very convenient for me. :(

  4. John Spuler
    March 18th, 2007 @ 4:05 pm

    Yes, i too wish that feature existed. I feel that I learn much better when a section of audio is played over and over again. I can get a feeling of the pacing and pronunciation better that if I had been listening regularly.

  5. Simon
    March 19th, 2007 @ 7:12 am

    You could use Audacity or similar software to split the tracks up into the parts you want to listen to a lot.

  6. edwinlaw
    March 19th, 2007 @ 4:18 pm

    Simon, thanks for the advise. I will definitely check it out. I currently use Goldwave to chop up my tracks. It is a rather advanced piece of audio editing software, and I find it taking longer to do the simple stuff.

    Basically, I would like a program which allows me to chop up a track into individual MP3 files with just a few clicks.

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