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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 3 4 57 ... 6 ... 13 14 Next >>
Serpent
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 Message 41 of 105
28 March 2013 at 1:48am | IP Logged 
You can listen from the very beginning. I've had good results with the Romance and Slavic languages and I suspect I would have had better results with Swedish or Norwegian instead of Danish.
It all depends on where you want to get and how soon. For me, speaking is a low priority until I can visit the country of the language, and I suspect the best technique would actually be to do the same thing as in listening, and the same thing that Prof Arguelles did to learn Portuguese and one of the Scandinavian languages (?). Talk a lot, even if in the beginning it will be too much of the familiar language and too little of the new one. Unfortunately I felt bad about doing this thing with Polish - had I been ready to do this, I would've had tons more practice.

Basically, while for the active skills you do need at least to read (or to do an audio-based course), for the passive ones you can just learn from exposure. Enough exposure will move the words to your active vocabulary.

My personal preference is not to learn to say anything unless I can actually understand the reply. Maybe it's just that I feel uncomfortable if I don't understand enough.
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Ari
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 Message 42 of 105
28 March 2013 at 6:56am | IP Logged 
sillygoose1 wrote:
What are you guys' thoughts on languages closely related also? For instance, let's say I have a C1 level in Swedish and I want to learn Norwegian.

I still hold to my Rule #1. If you have C1 Swedish you'd be able to read a Norwegian text without too much difficulty, so you could listen away to native stuff pretty much from day 1.
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tastyonions
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 Message 43 of 105
28 March 2013 at 7:34pm | IP Logged 
I listened to native materials from very early on, but I found it really frustrating at first because I was kind of randomly tuning into the radio; a better way would have been to focus on watching YouTube videos at the start, since they're short, self-contained, have plenty of visual cues, and can still be entertaining even if you don't get everything. I also kept (still keep, actually) a list of videos so that I can periodically go back to ones that I didn't understand so well on the first pass.

Of course, it's also easier to maintain focus on something that's really short.

Edited by tastyonions on 28 March 2013 at 7:36pm

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Bakunin
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 Message 44 of 105
29 March 2013 at 9:45pm | IP Logged 
I've been thinking about the discussion some more, in particular about the statement "I have not learned a single word solely from listening and guessing from context" by schoenewaelder as well as Ari's statement "Listening will strengthen words I already know, but for teaching me new ones, it's super slow and inefficient, for me". This may be true for those two, but I'd like to add some evidence for my conviction that it's entirely possible to learn languages through listening and interaction.

1) In many developing countries with multi-ethnic societies, multilingualism is the norm, and the vast majority of those people are not literate in those of their languages which are not promoted by central governments. As an example, I have friends in Thailand who speak Khmer at home, Lao in the market and when interacting with people from the region, and Thai in school and when interacting with people from other parts of the country. They have never seen a single word written in Lao but are nevertheless proficient in that language.

2) More generally: For the vast majority of multilingual people in human history, reading hasn't been an option at all.

3) Swiss-German is a spoken language with almost no literature or other written texts. There are some textbooks but they don't get you very far. There are many proficient speakers of Swiss-German who have immigrated to the country as adults, and they all have learned most, if not all, of the language through listening and interacting with native speakers.

4) Linguist doing field work with undocumented languages often seem to learn the languages they are researching.

I don't want to question schoenwaelder's and Ari's experience, but based on the examples given I would conclude that for the majority of people listening is as valid in the learning process as is reading. While it is possible that reading is a more efficient use of your time (evidence, anyone?), for most people it can't be true that listening is "super slow and inefficient" and should only serve to consolidate knowledge acquired through reading.

I'm not arguing against reading, not at all. By all means: read, and read a lot! But for a large part of us (if not the vast majority), extensive listening and interacting with people can be a valuable and enjoyable source of new vocabulary.
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Bao
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 Message 45 of 105
29 March 2013 at 11:12pm | IP Logged 
There's a big difference between listening to informative content, and listening to people while you're interacting with them. Or: I do not zone out when another person is going out of their way to make their language comprehensible to me.
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jhaberstro
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 Message 46 of 105
30 March 2013 at 3:35am | IP Logged 
Bao wrote:
There's a big difference between listening to informative content, and listening to people while you're
interacting with them. Or: I do not zone out when another person is going out of their way to make their language
comprehensible to me.
That, plus if you don't understand a word, you can just ask.
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BobbyE
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 Message 47 of 105
06 December 2013 at 2:20pm | IP Logged 
These 3 rules sum up what in my experience has been the only way to see gains in
listening. Very cool to see explained clearly.

I've also never once learned a new word by listening, without a text, and guessing the
meaning. In Mandarin, it has taken me a long time to even learn to hear syllables, let
alone guess meanings.

Old post, but OP is great advice and I just want to give props.
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Serpent
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 Message 48 of 105
06 December 2013 at 3:05pm | IP Logged 
The OP is actually controversial to some extent, but the whole thread is a great discussion.
Ari wrote:
I think there's little point in listening to largely incomprehensible audio. The "getting a feel for the sounds of the language" and "spotting for words you do know" arguments are, in my opinion, weak. You might get some benefit, but you can use the time better.
I'm more inclined to agree with leosmith on this. The main reason for the disparity between one's level of reading and listening is that a good coursebook CAN teach you to understand newspapers and easy novels, but a coursebook with audio is not enough for the same level of listening.

Formal materials focus on the intensive activities too much, which can be okay with reading but are definitely not enough for listening. If you learn to read slowly, you can then learn to read faster. If you listen to short segments and with a lot of pausing, proper native materials require a much longer leap.

If you put off native audio until you can understand "enough", it will never happen. And if you don't listen to natural speech, you'll have a crappy pronunciation.

Edited by Serpent on 06 December 2013 at 3:07pm



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