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Passive listening

  Tags: Passive | Listening
 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
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dmaddock1
Senior Member
United States
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Speaks: English*
Studies: Italian, Esperanto, Latin, Ancient Greek

 
 Message 1 of 14
23 April 2010 at 8:16pm | IP Logged 
Due to the nature of my job (I'm a software engineer), I am able to passively listen to audio with headphones virtually the whole day while I work. I'm wondering what the common wisdom is regarding what I listen to in this way.

Is it better to have a constant stream of new audio that I can't understand at all (eg. radio) or just repeat audio that I can actually understand (eg. Assimil dialogs)? Or does it not matter? Do you think listening like this actually has value?

Lately, I've had some short Esperanto dialogs on repeat, but this can get repetitive after 8 hours. If Helena asks Petro what's in his sack one more time I might go on a rampage! Estas fruktoj Helena!! However, I feel like I get more out of it if I can at least partially follow what's being said.


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luhmann
Senior Member
Brazil
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 Message 2 of 14
23 April 2010 at 9:41pm | IP Logged 
If your difficulty is listening comprehension alone, that is, if you vocabulary level is high enough that you could understand a transcript, you will probably start understanding the audio input sooner or later.

But if the language is far beyond your level you will learn very little from the audio alone. Learning needs context, passive learning works by filling the gaps. The better you can understand, the more you can learn. Ideally, you should be listening to something that is just a little bit above your level.
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Fasulye
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fasulyespolyglotblog
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 Message 3 of 14
23 April 2010 at 10:25pm | IP Logged 
luhmann wrote:
If your difficulty is listening comprehension alone, that is, if you vocabulary level is high enough that you could understand a transcript, you will probably start understanding the audio input sooner or later.

But if the language is far beyond your level you will learn very little from the audio alone. Learning needs context, passive learning works by filling the gaps. The better you can understand, the more you can learn. Ideally, you should be listening to something that is just a little bit above your level.


I fully agree with this recommendation. If the audio is too much above your level of understanding, you won't profit from it. I can state this from my own experience of listening (especially) to Turkish.

Fasulye

Edited by Fasulye on 23 April 2010 at 10:26pm

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matthewmartin
Triglot
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United States
suburbandestiny.com
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Speaks: English*, Russian, Toki Pona

 
 Message 4 of 14
23 April 2010 at 11:37pm | IP Logged 
I have being doing this exact experiment with Icelandic for ~2 years-- I listen to
about 1-2 hours of Icelandic talk shows and podcasts a day while commuting, always new
material, I never repeat.

Initially, I was chuffed if I could distinguish words (that I didn't know) from the
buzzing noise. Initially only the grammatical particals pop out (definite articles,
suffixes on adverbs, etc) One day, I realized that gjaldProta meant bankrupt, which
was a word I'd never looked up in a dictionary. More interestingly, I didn't really
understand the news article where I heard the word. I learned hrigja aftur means "call
back" on a call in talk show where the caller had a obviously bad connection. There is
more context in a stream on noise than you might imagine, after all, the blind learn
English largely on input from a stream of noise with no visual context.

There are now 100s of words I've heard the point where I recognize them but still don't
know what they mean. However, next time I see the work krof, I will learn it in one
repetition because they talk about it all the time on the radio. (It turns out to mean
something like central bank reserves)

I used to be able to listen to Icelandic news and read English at the same time. It is
getting to the point where I understand enough that it breaks my concentration. When I
didn't understand, it didn't bother me that they were reviewing a book on knitting.

I think this has helped my pronunciation-- I've heard a lot of people's speaking
styles. Young girls, academics, men and journalists trying to act serious all have
different qualities to their intonation and you can't learn that from re-listening the
same CD over and over.

I've a long ways to go, but I think it's helped.

For Esperanto, I highly recommend Radio Poland's
daily Esperanto podcast.

Edited by matthewmartin on 23 April 2010 at 11:40pm

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Luai_lashire
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
luai-lashire.deviant
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Speaks: English*, Esperanto
Studies: Japanese, French

 
 Message 5 of 14
24 April 2010 at 2:54am | IP Logged 
Just adding that another good source for Esperanto audio is Radio Verda's podcast, if you don't already know about
them. Although sadly, they don't come out with new ones that frequently.
Lernu.com also has downloadable audiobooks, I think.
3 persons have voted this message useful





Iversen
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Denmark
berejst.dk
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 Message 6 of 14
24 April 2010 at 1:06pm | IP Logged 
I think that matthewmartin's experiment first and foremost has shown one thing, namely that listening to incomprehensible speech for years will teach you less new words than half an hour with a dictionary or a grammar. As bot dmaddock1 and Fasulye point out learning by listening is only effective with 'comprehensible input', i.e. when you more or less understands the meaning so that you just have to fill out the holes.
5 persons have voted this message useful



OlafP
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Germany
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 Message 7 of 14
24 April 2010 at 2:09pm | IP Logged 
When you're being sprinkled with noise while doing something different then this has nothing to do with listening. It's actually a misuse of the word "to listen". I know that many people "listen" to "music" all day long that way, which often enough explains both the quality of what they are listening to and what the result of their daily work looks like.

Do one thing at a time and do it well. All efforts to save time by doing several things concurrently yield the opposite result.
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matthewmartin
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United States
suburbandestiny.com
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 Message 8 of 14
24 April 2010 at 3:35pm | IP Logged 
I'm wasn't trying to imply listing is the first choice or only choice. Always the first choice is to put oneself in a situation where you desperately need to speak and speak fluently (a spy behind enemy lines for example) with a motivated one-on-one teacher. Lacking that, and enjoying reading a dictionary as much as poking my eyes with a pencil, I moved on to other methods. Your mileage may vary.

In Icelandic (or Esperanto for that matter), there aren't vary many methods and resources available in the first place--esp compared to Spanish, French,et al. As much as one might enjoy a rigorous syllabus and training plan, there are hardly any resources in Icelandic-- five or so textbooks of various quality, no in person classes (in the DC area)

Anyhow, I'll call the activity "ad halfhlusta" to avoid doing any damage to the English language.


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