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Three rules for improving listening

  Tags: Listening
 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
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s_allard
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 Message 73 of 105
17 December 2013 at 5:45am | IP Logged 
Rather than let imposters and charlatans speak for me, I'll throw my own hat into the ring. Most of the advice
given so far is very good. What I would add is the importance of analytical listening. By that I mean not so much
listening to understand what is said but more how it is said.

When I'm listening seriously I like to analyze what I hear in terms of the grammatical and lexical components. For
example, in Spanish I pay particularly close attention to the verb morphology. I make sure I can identify the form
and why it is being used. I make sure I can identify fillers, crutch words and conversation markers. Idiomatic
expressions are a partiicular problem.

I look at discourse strategies, at how the speakers interact with each other, How they ask and answer questions.
How to interrupt, interject, argue, agree, etc. Basically, I listen as if I were dissecting the sounds into the
component parts.

This, I believe, is the key to being able to reproduce similar phrases, which , it seems to me, is our goal.
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s_allard
Triglot
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 Message 74 of 105
17 December 2013 at 7:46am | IP Logged 
Ari wrote:
[...

Rule 1: Listen to Material you'd Understand in Written Form
Don't waste your time listening to stuff that contains a bunch of words you don't know. Listening is crap for
expanding your vocab. That's what reading is for, where you can go through the text slowly, look things up in a
dictionary and memorize them. Listening should be about matching the sounds you hear to the words and
structures you already know (at breakneck speed). This is the skill you should focus on, and trying to improve
your vocab at the same time will drastically reduce your efficiency. Use the right tool for the right job. This
doesn't mean you need to understand every single word and expression perfectly, but if it were a text, you would
be able to read it and understand what it says, even if you'd have to read slowly.

[...!

I don't understand this principle or rule. I can see the idea of listening to an audiobook with the text in front of
me. But what if I'm watching a soap opera or a Youtube video without a transcript? When I run into all kinds of
new words, I pause the video and look them up in a dictionary. It seems to me that listening is great for
expanding one's vocabulary.

As for understanding the written text, there is a problem with spontaneous native speech in the media: when
written it is often incomprehensible because spoken language is very different from written language. Reading
the transcript of a natural conversation gives only an imperfect comprehension because elements like prosody
are missing and all kinds of seemingly extraneous elements are present.

For this very reason most television shows and movies are actually poor representations of real spoken speech.
Real people do not speak like actors.
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Serpent
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 Message 75 of 105
17 December 2013 at 3:13pm | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:
tarvos wrote:
I also find that training your pronunciation is endlessly important in order to understand the other person.
It's important for being understood, but it's totally possible to understand media without ever practising speaking. And when you finally open your mouth, you won't be learning the pronunciation from scratch. And you'll be able to hear where you sound off.

(Hmm makes me wonder what it's like for Scandinavians to learn to pronounce the neighbours' languages)
any insight? anyone?


BobbyE wrote:
I just listen to whatever I read and go back to listen to it later. Like I'll read a chapter of a novel at night, then again in the morning, then that whole day listen to that chapter, maybe two days until I understand most of it and it gets boring. Then I'll go back a week later and re-listen to it a few times, and then maybe again a week or two later until I feel I'm really not getting anything out of it or I'm completely uninterested. Luckily I have a pretty awesome book series I'm a fan of, the type that I feel an emotional connection with the characters, and also a very well performed rendition of that novel on audio where the actor plays the different voices. I still love going back and re-listening just for the nostalgia of the story.

How do you go about it?
I see, I was picturing writing out the words you learn and listening to them at forvo etc...
TBH, in my experience it's not important to use the same text. If you do both listening and reading separately, you will improve. The main exception for me is GLOSS, where you read a text intensively (and perhaps skim extensively at first), do some fun exercises and optionally can listen to the whole text. I normally listen when I understand it in detail, much like Ari suggested in the original post. But it's not my main way of working with audio and I think that it shouldn't be.

Edited by Serpent on 17 December 2013 at 3:13pm

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jeff_lindqvist
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 Message 76 of 105
17 December 2013 at 8:06pm | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:
Serpent wrote:
(Hmm makes me wonder what it's like for Scandinavians to learn to pronounce the neighbours' languages)
any insight? anyone?


Let's see if I understand your question..

Swedish and Norwegian are pretty close phonetically. There are supradentals, pitch accents, uvular R (in some areas) etc. Moreover, Swedes generally understand Norwegian quite well to start with (and vice versa), and therefore usually don't learn how to pronounce the other language, nor do they have to. But hey, that's why we understand each other. Swedes (usually) don't understand Danish as easily, probably because they don't know how to say the words themselves.

So, in a way, this confirms what Tarvos suggests.

Edited by jeff_lindqvist on 17 December 2013 at 11:22pm

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Serpent
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 Message 77 of 105
17 December 2013 at 9:35pm | IP Logged 
Would you say that it's enough to have a theoretical understanding of the pronunciation? Also do you agree that if you listen a lot, you'll pick up the more subtle differences, even if you weren't aware of them, and if you try to speak after a lot of listening, you'll hear where you sound off?

Now that I think of it, my Spanish listening improved from playing around with a flash-based phonetics site.
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tarvos
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 Message 78 of 105
17 December 2013 at 9:51pm | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:
Would you say that it's enough to have a theoretical understanding of
the pronunciation? Also do you agree that if you listen a lot, you'll pick up the more
subtle differences, even if you weren't aware of them, and if you try to speak after a
lot of listening, you'll hear where you sound off?


Only if you actually know what to listen for, and how you make that sound. I didn't
distinguish between uvular and alveolar r until I consciously could produce an alveolar
r in speech. You need to be able to produce the different sounds in another way (it
doesn't have to be 100% accurate but "close enough"). More listening helps with
decoding, yes, but you can't escape practicing the pronunciation.

But you don't need a native speaker per se to do that, of course. I just do it in front
of a mirror or my pc or whatever, and then when I want to speak I get it corrected.
Mostly teachers correct instances of my phonemes when I don't know how to pronounce a
word. They don't say "you don't pronounce the phoneme like that." Accents usually occur
in my case but they tend to be suprasegmental, or limited to one or two phonemes which
I can distinguish and do pronounce differently (but still incorrectly - my ich-laut
isn't correct for example, it's slightly off).


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Serpent
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 Message 79 of 105
17 December 2013 at 10:27pm | IP Logged 
I distinguished between them long before I could actually pronounce the uvular, though :) In fact, I was never taught to pronounce it. However, once I heard it enough times in a language where I liked it (German rather than French :P) I suddenly realized how it's pronounced. And prior to the super challenge I did VERY little listening in German.

Also, some sounds (common examples: m p s o a j) are different subtly enough that an ordinary textbook will just tell you to pronounce them like in your native language. I never read about the Italian "u" being anyhow special for example.

Basically I still think you don't need to open your mouth until you actually want to speak :P look at the LR method for example. or maybe Khatzumoto, who was the one to convince me that children aren't better at this stuff than adults, they just do significantly more listening. (and yes, children often get explicit corrections, and some get speech therapy too)

Edited by Serpent on 17 December 2013 at 10:27pm

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tarvos
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 Message 80 of 105
17 December 2013 at 10:40pm | IP Logged 
Quote:
Basically I still think you don't need to open your mouth until you actually want
to speak :P


Of course you don't. It's about speaking better ;)


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