Thursday, August 17, 2006

Din in the Head

Stephen Krashen has written about a phenomenon he calls "din". It's something like getting a song stuck in your head. Din is an "involuntary mental rehearsal" which people sometimes experience after a lot of exposure to L2 input. Krashen quotes a Russian language learner describing the experience this way:

"By the third day, the linguist in me was noticing a rising din of Russian in my head: words, sounds, intonations, phrases, all swimming about in the voices of people I talked with. This din blocked out all my other languages."*

I've personally experienced short Thai phrases and sentences getting stuck in my head, but never anything quite as dramatic as what's described here. It would be an interesting experiment to try to induce "din" by listening to comprehensible input for a long time at once. It seems like short, interesting, repetitive input might be the most likely to induce this phenomenon.

Unfortunately, this experiment would require that I find a few consecutive hours during which I can listen to Thai audio, and the only time that is available is in the evening after my son goes to sleep. It could be hard to stay awake and alert. Maybe a cup of coffee would help.

(*Elizabeth Barber, quoted in Krashen 1983, found in this pdf file which takes a long time to load. The original paper does not appear to be archived on the internet.)

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