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Three rules for improving listening

  Tags: Listening
 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
105 messages over 14 pages: 1 2 35 6 7 ... 4 ... 13 14 Next >>
Super Polyglot
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 Message 25 of 105
26 March 2013 at 10:57am | IP Logged 
I find listening starts to help when I've had a whole truckload of vocab and grammar
practice behind my belt. I've only recently started watching documentaries, listening to
Russian series and so on because it's only NOW that I can draw enjoyment from them
without having to bother finding out every word.

At the beginning it was pointless.
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 Message 26 of 105
26 March 2013 at 1:25pm | IP Logged 
kujichagulia wrote:
I understand that listening to material that is at, or somewhat above, your level is very good for language learners. I also understand that it is good to have a transcript of what you are listening to.

That said, it can be quite difficult to find materials that fit both of these criteria - especially if you, like me, are not willing to pay a buttload of money for them. Especially for beginners, the only listening material I can think of that meets a beginning/lower intermediate level student, with transcripts, are the (Language)Pod101 podcasts. Books with audio tend to be for more upper intermediate/advanced students
kinda offtopic but have you tried GLOSS? it's mostly for intermediate learners but some of the materials are not too difficult.

also, especially if you have no immediate need to use the language, there's nothing wrong with learning some specific vocabulary to be fluent in a particular field. heck, even the EU-produced Polish and Ukrainian courses for Euro-2012 teach you A2 stuff for tourists+football vocabulary that a typical A2 learner doesn't need.

the Brazilian Portuguese GLOSS lessons about football (soccer, obv) are oriented at Americans who have no clue. if you know who Pelé is and some other easy facts, those lessons shouldn't be too hard. btw did you know that all reading lessons have audio? click Source to see the whole text and listen to it.

Edited by Serpent on 26 March 2013 at 1:31pm

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 Message 27 of 105
26 March 2013 at 1:36pm | IP Logged 
Ari wrote:
Bakunin wrote:
I also was stunned about this statement. I've learned loads and loads of words in Thai and other languages through extensive listening, and I usually really enjoy the process.

I honestly don't understand how this works, and I've never found it to be true for myself. Listening will strengthen words I already know, but for teaching me new ones, it's super slow and inefficient, for me. Do you stop and think about the new word, even look it up, or do they all just ooze into your brain automatically? That sounds like I'm being sarcastic, but I'm genuinely curious. How does it work?

I'm not sure if your question is serious, but I try to answer it nevertheless.

Extensive reading and extensive listening are basically the same, just one is based on written and the other on spoken language. If I understand most of what's written/said, then I can figure out the meaning of new words from context, without having to look anything up. When the word comes again (and again and again), it gets more and more familiar until I know it. The same is true for words I encounter in interactions with other people, of course.

When I read or listen extensively, I rarely stop and think about a new word, and I never look it up. Usually, I just make a quick guess, let it go and move on (as we practice in meditation). It will come again. It will grow at its own pace until I know it. That's the magic of extensive reading/listening.

If you tell me that you can't listen and learn new things, then I believe you and also feel a bit sorry for you. It means that you always have to sit down and see language in written form. Sounds quite limiting to me. You certainly were able to listen and learn earlier in your life - when you learned the basics of your mother tongue -, but somehow you must have lost this skill. Any ideas as to why?

As to what is more efficient, I don't now. A fair comparison would be between extensive listening and extensive reading, I'd say. I've read that reading speed often exceeds the speed of spoken language, that would give extensive reading an advantage. I don't really care, though, I enjoy both activities.
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 Message 28 of 105
26 March 2013 at 2:22pm | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:
kinda offtopic but have you tried GLOSS? it's mostly for intermediate learners but some of the materials are not too difficult.

I've, uh, glossed over GLOSS, but I haven't fully incorporated it into my routine yet. (I really should!)

I forgot about GLOSS; that is also a nice source of free listening material with transcripts that you can adapt to your level.

Anyway, I think I'm siding with Ari on this one (as well as Serpent and tarvos). They have a ton of languages under the "Speaks" column, and I just have my native English so far.

Edited by kujichagulia on 26 March 2013 at 2:23pm

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 Message 29 of 105
26 March 2013 at 2:45pm | IP Logged 
sillygoose1 wrote:
What would you recommend for the harder stuff where there may not
be transcripts? For example, I'm watching sitcoms and I'm noticing that it's not
necessarily the vocab itself I have problems with, but rather how a native speaker cuts
the words short/rate of speech. Like how English speakers say "wanna" and "gonna". Is
this something only a native speaker can understand? Do you think that by watching
TV/movies one can really understand all of the intimacies of a language?

And how would I go about listening for new words if I've never seen it before? Is this
something one can learn solely through context?

What worked for me with Welsh was finding a number of singer-songwriters whose music I
enjoyed even when I didn't understand it. I bought the CDs rather than MP3s, in order
to get whatever lyrics inserts I could. In listening to the CDs over and over in the
car, and occasionally referring to the lyrics inserts and to the small dictionary I
keep in the car's door pocket, I got used to hearing the equivalents of 'wanna' and
'gonna' and 'no big deal' and etc. The more pieces you understand, the more the bits
that you don't understand pop into sharp focus so that you can then track down the
aberrant word or idiom. I'm still finding lyrics suddenly unscrambling themselves as
I've learned more and more over the last several years.
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 Message 30 of 105
26 March 2013 at 2:52pm | IP Logged 
I know it's anathema to the hippest language learnin theories, but I think I can truthfully say, I have not learned a single word solely from listening and guessing from context, despite the fact that listening s my main language activity. Zip. (I don't consider myself as having much natural talent for language learning, so it's nice to hear that someone like Ari has the same experience) What works for me though, is once you get to a standard where you can watch TV and understand 90%, then you can look up unknown words you hear, whilst still following what's going on with one ear/eye. It doesn't seem to be so easy with audiobooks or podcasts, where I always feel obliged to pause the audio, or not bother looking things up at all)
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 Message 31 of 105
26 March 2013 at 7:43pm | IP Logged 
I think Ari's contention would probably be true, for me at least, if it was confined to
strictly audio material without transcripts and translations. But when it comes to
audio-visual material, absolutely not, especially if you're talking about shows like
soap operas or cartoons that have fairly predictable story-lines, a great deal of
repetition of themes, exaggerated body language and facial expressions, and where the
characters' words are often directly related to
their present physical activity.

I started watching telenovelas without subtitles of any kind as soon as I began
learning Spanish. I don't think it took hardly any time before I had figured out that
"¡Lárgate!" meant "Get the h*ll out of here!" even though I hadn't learnt the
imperative mood, pronominal verbs, or the verb largar. Similarly, I knew that
"¡Suéltame!" meant "Let go of me!" long before I'd learned imperatives, direct object
pronouns, the verb soltar, or the concept of stem-changing verbs. Since "lárgate" was
always accompanied by the speaker gesturing towards the door or in the process of
forcibly ejecting someone from somewhere, and "suéltame" by someone struggling to
extricate themselves from another's grasp, it wasn't a bit difficult to figure out.

Those are isolated and somewhat extreme examples, but I can attest that I quickly and
effectively learned a very substantial amount of vocabulary from telenovelas before I
had encountered it elsewhere or had learned the grammatical framework behind its usage,
and what's more, I had fun in the process. I certainly also "studied" and I was taking
formal classes, but much of what I learned by that route simply explained and
consolidated things I had already assimilated from telenovelas.

EDIT: I did NOT, however, find watching news programs or documentaries (often
recommended around here) to be helpful (or tolerable) until I was at the intermediate
level. A fair amount of their content is pretty lacking in visual cues; a talking head
with, perhaps, a picture or scene behind them in some way related to what they're
talking about is not enough.

Edited by Gala on 26 March 2013 at 7:55pm

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Super Polyglot
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 Message 32 of 105
26 March 2013 at 11:23pm | IP Logged 
I think that listening does allow you to acquire new vocab once you've "decoded the
language" and are able to follow sentences normally, so that one word you do not know
will not lead to a blurring of the sentence meaning and you can ask "what is that word"
without feeling that you are missing out. At this point, it becomes useful. But that
requires you to be able to follow 95% of a conversation without trouble. I learned
several words this way during French class, mostly because I understand everything the
teacher says except an odd word. In this sense, you will also have the capability to
infer spelling (if it's a language that's reasonably easy to spell from audio).

But until that point the best way is audio with transcript, visual aid (to give
context) and foreign language subtitles (or same language subtitles). I actually prefer
same language, matching subtitles so I can infer each new word exactly. And that
doesn't happen until you're a lot further along. I can only do this in languages I'd
have in my "speaks" column.

(It is imperative you listen and follow along though. Else you will not get any
practice for how to pronounce a language. Just reading for vocab is not enough.
Practice saying them out loud).

Edited by tarvos on 26 March 2013 at 11:25pm

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