No, not that I know of... PreElements must have "focus" to run, since it is an editor and not a simply player... an editor means you are editing, interacting with the program, not just doing something like listen to a song in the background
I understand that it is not to be used for listening to something in the background. For this video I am working on though, I have a several minute clip of someone talking and I wanted to do some research while it played through. I think it's really odd to not have this feature.
Unfortunately, this is a limitation of the program. It needs to interface with the video driver 100%, and when focus is shifted to another program, though few work so closely with the video driver, as does PrE, it relinquishes control of that video driver, and pauses.
I have had a few instances, somewhat similar to yours. In my case, I just did an Export/Share from Premiere, (either Audio-only, or a muxed AV file), then used a simple player, to have that file playing, while I did my other work. That is the only workaround that I can think of.
You did not say what version of Premiere Elements you are using and on what computer operating system it is running.
Nonetheless, just in case you were thinking about switching to another version of Premiere Elements to get this playback feature that you seek, I wanted
to add that I have Premiere Elements 4 through 11 on my computer and all behave the same in this respect.
Thanks everyone! It's kind of a bummer, but I guess I understand it. By the way, I'm running elements 11 with Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit.