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emk
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 Message 465 of 1317
21 February 2013 at 2:53am | IP Logged 
Listening Comprehension

I've listened to 27 hours of French in 20 days, not counting "background" audio, and I'm actually planning to step that up now that I've caught up on my Super Challenge reading. I'm using Angel, various cartoons like Captaine Flam, lots of podcasts and internet radio, and anything else I can find.

It's getting really easy to find audio where I understand 90%+. This is an amazing feeling. Sure, lots of stuff is still beyond me, but all I need to do is change the channel, and I'll find something which I do understand.

Some random observations:

- The day-to-day variation in my listening skills is still pretty huge. This is weird.

- When a character on Angel compares somebody to Captaine Flam, and I get the reference, I feel like I must be doing something right. :-)

- Quebec accents have gotten dramatically easier, as long as it's just accented standard French. But after about 30 minutes, I'm absolutely exhausted.

- In general, the "listening fatigue" is really noticeable with internet radio. They speak so fast and convey so much information that after 2 hours in a day, I'm a total wreck. This only occurs if I'm paying attention and understanding most of it.

- Right now, my major goal is consolidation or "fluency": Take the stuff I can already understand, and make that understanding more automatic and less exhausting. I haven't done enough of this in the past.

Anyway, off to see if I can manage another episode of Angel, and get my daily total up to 3 hours…

EDIT: Just got beat up a little bit by Angel this evening—I had trouble with a few dozen lines. I've been making progress, but it's patchy…

Edited by emk on 21 February 2013 at 3:58am

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emk
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 Message 466 of 1317
21 February 2013 at 3:21pm | IP Logged 
I've been checking out the podcasts mentioned in this thread. This morning I did 40 minutes of Place de la toile (recommended by garyb) before even getting out of bed. I got almost everything, but now my head feels like it's packed in cotton balls and I want to take a nap.

Here's a little story from VDM this morning to test your knowledge of French phonetics:

Quote:
Aujourd'hui, prof d'Histoire en seconde, je dis : "Les savants de la Renaissance placent l'Homme au centre de la connaissance, et non plus Dieu." Un élève se redresse et me demande : "Mais il arrive quoi à leurs yeux ?" J'avoue avoir mis quelques secondes à comprendre le problème... VDM


non plus Dieu = /nɔ̃ ply djø/ = n'ont plus d'yeux

For me, the hardest part of French listening comprehension has always been breaking things down into words and dealing with all the unfamiliar vowels. Even to this day, a single unfamiliar proper name in a sentence can nearly break my decoding.

But when my brain can quickly predict what a French speaker would say in a given situation, none of this matters. Spoken language is pretty repetitive, and I've been exposed to thousands and thousands of pages of written French. In other words, I'm using high-level language knowledge to compensate for various low-level weaknesses in my phonology and word-segmentation. This is pretty much what native speakers do in a noisy room or on a bad telephone connection. But I'm doing it even under optimal conditions.

I wonder how typical my experience is?
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Expugnator
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 Message 467 of 1317
21 February 2013 at 4:22pm | IP Logged 
emk, one thing I realized when watching TV in a foreign language (in my case, English and French) with subtitles as a separate txt file, not embedded: I'm always so ansious about pausing the video and looking at the subtitles for a word I don't know and I don't wait till the whole sentence is uttered!

- Sometimes you seem not to understand a word as you hear it but once you wait for the sentence to finish, context makes it all clear. That's how it works at our native languages, so, it should work the same at foreign languages. So, be patient!

- If you get too obsessed of what seemed to be an unintelligible word you lose track of the rest of the sentence, making the whole process harder. Once again, be patient!

I'm learning those lessons the hard way, I still dare not close the subtitles even though I feel I'd understand more than enough. I'm the one person obsessed with every word in a sentence, but sometimes it really isn't necessary.
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emk
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 Message 468 of 1317
21 February 2013 at 5:48pm | IP Logged 
Expugnator wrote:
I'm learning those lessons the hard way, I still dare not close the subtitles even though I feel I'd understand more than enough. I'm the one person obsessed with every word in a sentence, but sometimes it really isn't necessary.


I mostly gave up on subtitles a long time ago (because the French are pathetically bad at subtitles). Sometimes I'll rewatch something like Intouchables or Banlieu 13 with the French subs on, or do some more subs2srs, which is great for ultra-intensive listening.

But I'm lucky in one respect: It's getting easy for me to find French audio where I have 90%+ comprehension with no subs. Podcasts, news radio, TV, even some easy films. And on a good day with the right material, I've recently been seeing stretches of 98%+ comprehension.

But this still requires my active attention, and maintaining a high level of comprehension can be exhausting. (Non-stop conversational speech or Quebec accents will destroy my brain in less than an hour.) So at least for now, I'm much more interested in making the stuff I do understand both easy and automatic, which is clearly going to take a lot of listening. The remaining opaque bits can look after themselves for now. :-)
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Expugnator
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 Message 469 of 1317
21 February 2013 at 8:42pm | IP Logged 
I actually like it that the subtitle differs so much from the dubbed text: this allows me to have a general idea of the meaning and then try to understand how a native would say it more naturally and fluidly. If the subtitles were just a transcription, that would be like reading a textbook's dialogue. So, every cloud has a silver lining :)
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jhaberstro
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 Message 470 of 1317
21 February 2013 at 9:27pm | IP Logged 
Expugnator wrote:
I actually like it that the subtitle differs so much from the dubbed text: this allows me to have
a general idea of the meaning and then try to understand how a native would say it more naturally and fluidly. If the
subtitles were just a transcription, that would be like reading a textbook's dialogue. So, every cloud has a silver
lining :)

That's an interesting perspective! It also really depends on why you're using subtitles in the first place. It's been
shown that subtitles are really useful for helping people learn what words sounds like. So, if you can't pick out the
words in the first place, having non-matching subtitles wouldn't be very useful :-P. I'd imagine your use of subtitles
would be really useful for an advance learner.
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emk
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 Message 471 of 1317
24 February 2013 at 6:14pm | IP Logged 
I did more than five hours of active listening yesterday. By the end, my brain was pretty much cooked, as you might imagine. I'm really glad that I have Planète terre (the Quebec dub), because when I just can't deal with anything difficult, I can always watch the pretty nature scenes and listen to the very slow and clear narrator. But after that many hours, even easy audio eventually becomes overwhelming.

For me, the most exhausting audio is "conversational" podcasts, because they're fast and intellectual and colloquial and pretty much non-stop.

I have a lot of respect for Khatzumoto. When I actually look at the amount of effort he used put into Japanese on a daily basis, I look like a dilettante. Five hours of active listening on one day is enough to cook my brain. Forty minutes of Anki is sufficiently draining that I stop learning new cards. But Khatzumoto was listening during almost every free moment and doing over two hours of Anki reps per day. I admire the dedication. But I prefer a slightly more laid-back pace.
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emk
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 Message 472 of 1317
26 February 2013 at 5:59pm | IP Logged 
Some recent threads with lots of recommendations:

Bande dessinée + FNAC
Podcasts in French: society/politics
Cool podcasts in French?
Egyptian hieroglyphics sources


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