A TOEFL student asked me last night if I knew how to slow down the playback speed of a CD or audio recording as he was finding it hard to understand the fast natural speed of native speakers. I did some research and found these options:
Microsoft Windows Media Player (free) has three speed control settings.
- Play [menu] > Play Speed
Simple to use, and does a good job.
VLC Media Player (free) http://www.videolan.org/
The free media player VLC has several types of controls for increasing or decreasing playback speed, like you can do with a DVD player. However, changing the speed of playback also changes the pitch of the voice.
Across the width of VLC’s small window, there is a progress bar and slider. On either end are double triangles (arrow heads), which increase or decrease playback in fairly big steps.
At the bottom of the window is a status bar divided into three segments. The one in the middle shows the playback speed. Right-click on that segment (on the displayed speed) to open a speed control slider, which allows finer control than the double triangles.
Audacity audio editor (free)
This has good technology but is a little complicated to understand, I think.
VOICE AGAIN (Free trial, then $30 to buy)
Very easy to use and produces good quality audio…if you want to spend the money.
Please try them out and let me know what you think. Try recording English news reports, and then playing them back slower. That way you will be able to hear the linking between words easier as your brain has more time to process the information you hear.