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Listening from the beginning

 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
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kmart
Senior Member
Australia
Joined 4167 days ago

194 posts - 400 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Italian

 
 Message 25 of 70
14 May 2011 at 7:16am | IP Logged 
szastprast wrote:
Learning a foreign language by combining listening to and reading (and than speaking and writing) something you understand and enjoy is much more effective than just listening and speaking.

I don't think that's a given for everybody. For some people, seeing the written word, where the pronunciation rules are different to their native language, impairs their pronunciation abilities. They "see" the word in their head and keep trying to pronounce it with their native language rules. If they had only heard the language, but had not seen it written down, they wouldn't have a written picture, and would have to go on the sound alone, and thus their pronunciation would be better.
3 persons have voted this message useful



Bao
Diglot
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Germany
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Studies: French, Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin

 
 Message 26 of 70
14 May 2011 at 8:52am | IP Logged 
kmart wrote:
For some people, seeing the written word, where the pronunciation rules are different to their native language, impairs their pronunciation abilities. They "see" the word in their head and keep trying to pronounce it with their native language rules. If they had only heard the language, but had not seen it written down, they wouldn't have a written picture, and would have to go on the sound alone, and thus their pronunciation would be better.

That sounds a bit like a bad or rare thing; but it's actually the contrary - a side effect of our ability to record language in a written way. Because the written word is a very effective memory aid it allows us to 'say' words we haven't heard nearly frequently enough to know their pronuncation well, especially when it comes to phonological effects that govern the interaction of words in a sentence. When we see such a written image of a word we have to re-create the sound of it following the simplicized rules we have learnt consciously.

I think I recently figured out why my 1st and 3rd person singular preterite forms in Spanish sound so odd - because I tried to pronounce the stressed syllable with a higher pitch (similar to the stress in a Spanish noun or other verb forms), but native speakers actually seem to drop the pitch on those syllables and lengthen them instead. Still not sure if I got is right now (I'll have to listen to more samples with those forms in mind) - if I did, that would be a classical case of my 'knowledge' about stress and the way it is written interfering with correct perception and therefor correct memory.

Unless one has a very actue, well-trained perception or no opportunity to rely on written information, mistakes likes mine will happen. The only remedy is to consistently work on listening/speaking skills.


By the way, I'm more in favour of skipping the beginner's podcasts and such altogether and instead repeating interesting intermediate material until it makes more sense. Might just be me but I can't bring myself to listen attentively to content that I don't even want to understand.
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slucido
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Spain
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 Message 27 of 70
14 May 2011 at 1:05pm | IP Logged 
szastprast wrote:
Arekkusu wrote:
Definitely agree, and wired to learn through speaking, not writing.

We are wired to learn through listening, reading, speaking, writing, and perfoming actions. And analizing things and then producing them.
Just saying that one skill is more important than any other is plain wrong and ineffective.
You can teach a baby who does't speak yet both listening and reading at the same time. (Glenn Domann). That's the way I was taught, too.


We are mainly wired to learn through social interaction.




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schoenewaelder
Diglot
Senior Member
Germany
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 Message 28 of 70
14 May 2011 at 1:55pm | IP Logged 
I must admit, I'd never really thought much about the importance of social interaction in language, before people (probably Arekkusu, slucido, anyone else?) started mentioning on this forum (and obviously that Irish chap). I had always realised talking was important of course, but really just as pronounciation practice, and developing automaticity. But then it started to tie in with things like mirror neurones, and stuff about how babies prosper in nurturing environments.

I'm also a great believer in "wired in" stuff (Selfish Gene or What Would A Caveman Do?). But there is counter factor in that, in order to be optimal, humans have evolved to expend the minimum effort in acquiring any advantage. So although children are pretty amazing learners, it actually takes them about 14 - 18 years to be able to converse on the same level as their parents, because there is no particular advantage in learning any faster than that. However, in certain specific circumstances (say immersion after being captured by another tribe) they seem to be able to achieve remarkable ability in only a few months.

And although things might be hard-wired, it doesn't mean thay can't be adapted or subverted to greater advantage. I can rollerblade a lot faster than I can run. So maybe if I've got a book which explains the "secret code" of the language, I can actually learn it faster than the evolved method?

So, back on the fence for me.
1 person has voted this message useful



Bao
Diglot
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Germany
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 Message 29 of 70
15 May 2011 at 4:24am | IP Logged 
schoenewaelder wrote:
However, in certain specific circumstances (say immersion after being captured by another tribe) they seem to be able to achieve remarkable ability in only a few months.
(...)
So maybe if I've got a book which explains the "secret code" of the language, I can actually learn it faster than the evolved method?


It's not a book, it's the circumstance that your survival depends on your willingness to forget your former identity and create a new one as a member of the new tribe.

Edited by Bao on 15 May 2011 at 4:25am

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Arekkusu
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Canada
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 Message 30 of 70
15 May 2011 at 5:00am | IP Logged 
schoenewaelder wrote:
I must admit, I'd never really thought much about the importance of social
interaction in language, before people (probably Arekkusu, slucido, anyone else?) started mentioning on
this forum (and obviously that Irish chap). I had always realised talking was important of course, but really
just as pronounciation practice, and developing automaticity. But then it started to tie in with things like
mirror neurones, and stuff about how babies prosper in nurturing environments.

I'm also a great believer in "wired in" stuff (Selfish Gene or What Would A Caveman Do?). But there is
counter factor in that, in order to be optimal, humans have evolved to expend the minimum effort in
acquiring any advantage. So although children are pretty amazing learners, it actually takes them about 14 -
18 years to be able to converse on the same level as their parents, because there is no particular
advantage in learning any faster than that. However, in certain specific circumstances (say immersion after
being captured by another tribe) they seem to be able to achieve remarkable ability in only a few months.

And although things might be hard-wired, it doesn't mean thay can't be adapted or subverted to greater
advantage. I can rollerblade a lot faster than I can run. So maybe if I've got a book which explains the
"secret code" of the language, I can actually learn it faster than the evolved method?

So, back on the fence for me.

There is no doubt that technology (including writing) can provide us with certain advantages. Most notably,
writing allows information to be presented very concisely, and recording technologies allow us to continue to
hear a language even in the absence of native speakers, thus extending the length of time we can devote
to learning. However, social interactions will always continue to offer just the right amount of adrenaline and
human emotions to create a more lasting impression and make learning as dramatic and pertinent as can
be.

I'm not sure your rollerblades analogy is quite adequate here. Nevertheless, your rollerblades require very
specific conditions -- they take time to put on (wouldn't help you in escaping a fire), they need perfect road
conditions (useless in sand or grass), etc. They can and do help you move about, but they will only ever be
a complement to the more natural alternative: your legs.
1 person has voted this message useful



zuneybunny
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Newbie
United States
turkishtrip.wordpres
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32 posts - 52 votes 
Speaks: English, Mandarin*
Studies: Spanish, Turkish

 
 Message 31 of 70
25 May 2011 at 5:07am | IP Logged 
I am currently learning Turkish with the FSI languages courses. Do you think this fits
with the criteria you gave? It's not really at native speed because it tries to let you
pronounce with it, but it's spoken by a native.

Thanks!
1 person has voted this message useful





Iversen
Super Polyglot
Moderator
Denmark
berejst.dk
Joined 4746 days ago

9084 posts - 16476 votes 
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Studies: Afrikaans, Greek, Norwegian, Russian, Serbian, Icelandic, Latin, Irish, Lowland Scots, Indonesian, Polish, Croatian
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 32 of 70
25 May 2011 at 11:12am | IP Logged 
Bao wrote:
I'm more in favour of skipping the beginner's podcasts and such altogether and instead repeating interesting intermediate material until it makes more sense. Might just be me but I can't bring myself to listen attentively to content that I don't even want to understand.


I totally agree. It should be possible to find intermediate texts and/or recordings with some relevant content, and if such material is chopped up in small pieces, studied intensively and put together again it is totally feasible to use this as your main fare. Those times were I have tried to use material aimed at beginners' courses I have dropped it because I found it boring and unappetizing.

slucido wrote:

We are mainly wired to learn through social interaction.


I'm mainly wired to learn when people don't interact with me.

But as anybody else I need to listen to a language in order to get it 'buzzing around' in my mind, and without the internet, radio and TV I would have had to listen to real living persons around me, which could mean that I would have to follow a course. So I'm happy that I live in an era where I can listen to things through the electronical media.



2 persons have voted this message useful



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