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Extremely Passive Learning

  Tags: Passive
 Language Learning Forum : General discussion Post Reply
28 messages over 4 pages: 1 2 3

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Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 25 of 28
2013 16 March at 6:03am | IP Logged 
Arekkusu wrote:
You would learn very little, and in most cases, virtually nothing.

I've never heard anyone actually uttering a sentence of a language and saying "I never
really studied the language but I've watched so many subtitled movies that I just
learned it anyway".

I've never had much luck using L1 subtitles, but I've learned an enormous amount of
French just by watching TV. But I was already solidly conversational (about B1, I'd
say), and I could read books with decent general comprehension.

So when it comes to TV and films, I suspect I agree with Krashen: If you can find lots
of N+1 input (which is very hard when you know nothing), you can learn passive skills
simply by understanding messages. Most beginners probably fail to learn from L1
subtitles because (1) they're not actually paying attention to the audio, and (2) it's
probably something crazy like "N+25" input, if you'll allow me to abuse a metaphor.

If for some bizarre reason I needed to learn a language from scratch using nothing but
accurately subtitled films, I think I'd use them like Assimil: Watch a scene with L1
subs, then with L2 subs, and then with no subs, or in other similar combinations, and
repeat. This would artificially boost my comprehension at the beginner level.

If I couldn't have both L1 and L2 subs, I'd look for really basic children's
television. Not stuff like Caillou, Sesame Street or Dora the
, but something massively repetitive aimed at even younger kids. And I'd
look for 500+ hours of material.
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Russian Federation
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 Message 26 of 28
2013 16 March at 12:48pm | IP Logged 
tarvos wrote:
I think we're different because you're more visual. I can't remember words from reading if I worry about pronouncing them incorrectly to myself (I don't have this problem with French because I don't care about developing any skills in it. I pronounce it as Portuguese, Italian or Romanian in my head and it doesn't bother me. I don't like French.)

I am indeed more visual but I do consciously work on my auditive development (listening is always my weakest skill). But no amount of hearing nonsense will make it stop being nonsense. You need the subtitles and the other aids to start understanding what you are watching, and then it snowballs because you associate the word to the sub. If I listen to an episode of non-subtitled Greenlandic shows, I won't magically understand them if I listen to them over and over. I have to get subtitles and a transcript and a textbook to explain unknown grammar rules of Greenlandic to me. That's not because I'm not auditive, but because if I never learn how Greenlandic sounds correspond to meaning and in what rhythm and phrase and consciously associate them and repeat them over and over, then I will never. No magical amount of listening to the radio will make me fluent in Breton. Only me using Breton actively in some way will help me to actually understand the Breton.
I was referring to your Spanish example. You said you understand some (due to French) but are not improving because you're not doing anything active. Isn't it really just that you don't want to learn Spanish? As I said, my understanding has improved considerably with more and more input. And without doing anything active.
And I always say that this depends on the language, of course.

The part in bold is really weird. There's a huge difference between getting passive skills by listening only and between attempting to reach active fluency without doing anything else. And there's no need to *use* the language if you just want to understand it.
Basically, while this is true about Breton, it won't be true if you replace it with Spanish, Italian, Norwegian or Polish.


You need some form of active ability to use the listening. Reading is a different story though, you could very well learn to passively understand a language even though you cannot utter much in it.
This is the part I disagree most with :) And I really think there's no inherent difference between listening and reading. It's just that most learners don't do enough listening and/or are more visual.

Edited by Serpent on 2013 16 March at 1:34pm

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Russian Federation
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 Message 27 of 28
2013 16 March at 12:54pm | IP Logged 
leosmith wrote:
Serpent wrote:
Or more like, if you don't want to remember the words, you won't

Who's mind works like this?

tarvos wrote:
If you don't want to remember the words then you're best off doing something you'll want to remember.
I meant this as in watching subtitled movies without having any interest in the language. You're not trying to remember anything, so you won't, apart from some really common words.

It's like that experiment when two groups of students were to memorize some L2 vocab. One group was supposed to be tested next day, but the other expected a test in two weeks. In reality, both were tested one week later. Guess who was better?
(the intervals might have been different but the testing was definitely "in between", neither this nor that)

Edited by Serpent on 2013 16 March at 1:03pm

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 Message 28 of 28
2013 17 March at 5:21am | IP Logged 
Watching subtitled films won't improve your language skills unless you already started some basic learning
on a language. Suppose you happen to be watching a Hungarian film with English subtitles, unless you are
consciously paying attention to what is being said and try to match it with the English translation, there is
a good chance you may not pick up anything. For learning purposes instead of subtitles, you pick up a film
on DVD and turn on Close Caption (for the deaf). You are getting all the subtitles in your target language.

Personally used to watch Japanese films. There are occasionally single words I'd picked up because they
sound close to Chinese but entire expressions no. Hello, good morning, good night, thank you probably if
you watch films from 1 target language.

Chinese films usually have subtitles for people speaking different dialects. Films from Mainland China are
in simplified characters. The ones from Taiwan & Hong Kong are in traditional characters. I know
Cantonese-speaking people who watch a lot of films in Mandarin. They would go by the subtitles and
after many years their Mandarin conversation is about the same. People can get very focused on reading
they don't put in effort to match what is displayed and what is said by a character.

Being active you find words & phrases in a film you look it up in the dictionary. And during the learning
process you don't just study for so many hours a day but you try to think in the language.

Edited by shk00design on 2013 17 March at 5:28am

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