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Three rules for improving listening

  Tags: Listening
 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
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Serpent
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 Message 81 of 105
17 December 2013 at 11:05pm | IP Logged 
But why do you think one would speak worse after a silent period? Yes it's practice, but speaking in a class where everyone has a horrible pronunciation is also practice, yet it's not particularly beneficial and can be harmful too.
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jeff_lindqvist
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 Message 82 of 105
17 December 2013 at 11:52pm | IP Logged 
There's no doubt that a lot of listening gives you some skills - if nothing else, it's pretty much required that you have actually heard the real language in order to be able to reproduce it. But it's nothing like having practiced saying words out loud yourself. Silly analogy, I know, but I haven't met anyone who learned to sing without opening their mouth.

While speaking in a class can be harmful/detrimental as long as you're in a class with people who don't (know how to) follow the teacher's instructions, it's still practice. And I don't believe in fossilized pronunciation.

It's not a question of listening vs. speaking. Either activity is better than none, and both are better than one.
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Serpent
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 Message 83 of 105
18 December 2013 at 1:07am | IP Logged 
The main question is "when" though. I think it's pointless to learn to speak "in advance" if you don't need and don't want yet. I basically believe that speaking can be delayed without any harm (and even with possible advantages) but listening shouldn't be.
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tarvos
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 Message 84 of 105
18 December 2013 at 8:37am | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:
But why do you think one would speak worse after a silent period? Yes
it's practice, but speaking in a class where everyone has a horrible pronunciation is
also practice, yet it's not particularly beneficial and can be harmful too.


I wouldn't use a class to speak. I don't actually speak that much either, but when I
do, it's with natives or tutors.

I don't think you would speak worse, I simply think you would sound wobbly because
you've never practiced. Speaking takes time to develop. It isn't the first skill I
develop either (these are listening and reading). You start when you start.

My point is more that you have to train PRONUNCIATION (which doesn't necessarily mean
you speak, but that you do open your mouth to get the phonemes right beforehand).

You have to do both. I advocate lots of listening too.


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Jeffers
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 Message 85 of 105
18 December 2013 at 10:05am | IP Logged 
iguanamon wrote:
Typical Advice Center question on HTLAL: "I'd like to learn 'X', how
do I start? (my assumption- learner wants to learn all facets of the language.)

Me: "Use a course (or two) but also start listening as soon as you can and start reading
as soon as possible (obviously- comprehensible input- meaning audio with text, preferably
bilingual). Make this a part of your learning from the start at the same time as you use
your course. Pick an audio, with a transcript, ideally a bilingual transcript or a
subject you are familiar with. Pick a text and work with it (ideally a bilingual text)
and try to decipher it a sentence at a time, then a paragraph at a time. It might take
weeks to get through it. At the same time, continue with your course. In other words:
don't just depend on a course and anki alone, use multiple resources at the same time.
Doing so, means that your course becomes a way to solve problems with what you are
seeing, hearing and speaking, and eventually less about teaching you "X" from scratch.

Others, one post later: "Get Assimil". Seconded in next post.

New poster: "Also use "Teach Yourself X".

New Poster: "Anki is great for learning vocabulary!"

Learner: "OK, I'll use Assimil, TY and Anki". Implied: "I won't be going outside this
box."

Problem solved- Me: eye roll.

Me: "Good, but you should also include listening to native audio, reading native text and
speaking before you are 'ready'. This can be done by..." (doing this is not mutually
exclusive with using a course and Anki)

Serpent: You should try Lyrics Training and Gloss as well. They're both great ways to
practice and work on both listening comprehension and reading.

Learner: Nothing, now convinced that courses and anki are the solution. More than one
person has recommended them (neglecting to mention the fact that they themselves actually
did more than just use the course and anki- because they don't consider reading,
watching TV or listening to be "study").

Result: Learner believes an hour a day with courses and Anki alone will lead them
to the promised land. In a box is better than out of the box. Inside the box is easier.
"The course and anki reps will teach me. Listening to native speech is hard. There's no
one to hold my hand. I'll have to find audio myself. I'll have to take notes and work on
the audio, maybe even have to listen to the same audio multiple times more. Worse yet, I
might have to talk to people! What would I say? How would I understand what they
say? I get discouraged and quit."

Learner after using mostly courses: "Why can't I understand TV, or movies, native
conversation or podcasts?" -Me: eye roll, again. I give up.

If you want to get better at listening, practice listening. Give it at least the same
amount of effort (if not more) that you give to your course and anki. If you fail the
first time, don't give up. Keep at it until you get better. Even if that means listening
over and over again to the same stretch of audio. Like all exercise, the more you
practice listening, actively, the better you will be, but it takes time.




I was surprised and amused by such a self-serving post by someone who's advice I quite
respect. Let me summarize the post the way I read it:
Learner asks advice.
Iguanamon give the right answer.
Everyone else muddies up the water.
Learner follows everyone else's advice.
Moral: Leave the advice to Iguanamon.

The reason the learner settles on course A + course B is that the advice as described
above is completely incomprehensible to a language newbie. They want simple advice, and
they don't expect to spend 3 hours a day for the next 3 years.The advice Iguanamon gives
in his imaginary post is great (as usual), but most people coming for advice are asking
because they need something simple. The problem isn't that the average learner stays
"inside the box", the problem is that the average learner gives up after a while for a
huge variety of reasons. There is nothing wrong with a course alone + Anki.

There are several successful learners on these message boards who have gotten their start
that way. Those on these forums who have started with Assimil properly, done the one
lesson every day until they have finished, and then turned to native material, are
probably more successful than I, who have been slowly working through Assimil (and other
courses), but mostly working with native material (listening, watching, reading). My
strategy is more long-term. I feel like by the time I actually finish Assimil (after
maybe 3 years of work) I will have a better foundation in the language because of all of
the native material I have been using. But if a beginner wants simple advice, let them
stick to a course. If they have the discipline to finish that course, then they will be
in a good position to tackle native material. If they quit, they will just be like 90%
of people who try to learn something new.

Now to wait to be drop-kicked into the "textbook only" camp....
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tarvos
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 Message 86 of 105
18 December 2013 at 11:36am | IP Logged 
I get almost all of my starts using a coursebook (not necessarily always with Anki).

But I combine it with writing and speaking.

It's and/and.
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James29
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 Message 87 of 105
18 December 2013 at 2:15pm | IP Logged 
What is the difference between the language in "a program" (like Assimil for example) and "native material"? Nothing except the program is specifically designed by experts to help the learner learn material relevant to beginners and to learn as fast and efficiently as possible. There is no magic in "native material." It is not a different language.

If someone is a beginner who wants to spend an hour a day learning a language they will be much better served spending the first year working exclusively with courses than working in a lot of native materials. Maybe they will have a false sense of ability after the year, but that is not the fault of the course. They will certainly be more advanced in the language than if they had spent most of the time using native material.       

If someone is advanced or has a ton of time on their hands it would likely make sense to use more than just courses. Courses stop at roughly a B1 level and it certainly is true that if people keep using only courses at that level they will not progress.

The key is to use appropriate level material (regardless of whether or not it is a "course" or "native material") that will advance the student as efficiently as possible. With courses you get instructive material as well as a language expert doing all the work to determine what is "appropriate level material."

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iguanamon
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 Message 88 of 105
18 December 2013 at 2:55pm | IP Logged 
Jeffers wrote:
...I was surprised and amused by such a self-serving post by someone who's advice I quite respect. Let me summarize the post the way I read it:
Learner asks advice.
Iguanamon give the right answer.
Everyone else muddies up the water.
Learner follows everyone else's advice.
Moral: Leave the advice to Iguanamon. ...
The reason the learner settles on course A + course B is that the advice as described
above is completely incomprehensible to a language newbie. They want simple advice, and
they don't expect to spend 3 hours a day for the next 3 years.The advice Iguanamon gives in his imaginary post is great (as usual), but most people coming for advice are asking because they need something simple.


I guess I get frustrated by seeing the type of post where I expect that a prospective learner actually wants to learn (by "learn" I mean all aspects) the language and not just play around with it. I do not have THE answer. I have an alternative that I'd like people to consider. Most people asking for advice never state what they hope to accomplish with their language, what they want to do with it or how much time they have to devote to learning it.

You're right, Jeffers, my post does come off as arrogant, but I wrote it in the context of a hypothetical learner who finds listening difficult after using "something simple" and complains about having trouble with listening. If listening is integrated as soon as possible into a routine, it will help the learner become better at listening. Obviously, that doesn't help the hypothetical poster who hasn't incorporated it from the beginning stages, but it may help someone who is at the early stage to question their reliance on being inside the box. Adding listening doesn't have to be that much more added on to the course/anki routine. An extra ten or fifteen minutes spent outside the course with a song at lyrics training or with an audio with a transcript, for example, can do wonders for training listening and help with making connections on one's own.

Soon, we will be in a New Year and there will be a bunch of new people coming to HTLAL for advice who have made a New Year's resolution to "learn" (however "learn" is defined) a language. I generally try to write a personalized response in order to try to help people. Assimil & Anki (or other course), you'll have to admit, are the default recommendations on the forum. There are plenty of folks who will give that advice, but few who will provide alternatives. You can almost time an advice post to how long it will be before someone says- "just get Assimil".

I will be eternally grateful for what I learned from Barry Farber's book about the multi-track approach and I want to share it. It helped me to speak two languages at a high level and get pretty far in a third. I just want to help people to do what I have done and be successful learners of another language- of which I reap the benefits every day. I think we all want to help. That's why we're here. I try to provide an alternative point of view that has worked for me, but it's getting tiring tilting at windmills.

I apologize, for the "self-serving" tone of my post. I wanted to show people, especially beginners, that there are consequences to staying inside the course/anki box. I probably could have said what I wanted to say more effectively and persuasively outside of the format I used of an imaginary dialog, which does come off as arrogant and self-serving. I just get frustrated sometimes. I'll try to avoid that in future.   



Edited by iguanamon on 18 December 2013 at 2:57pm



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