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 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
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leosmith
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United States
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 Message 1 of 90
06 April 2007 at 11:04am | IP Logged 
Up for a debate?

Over the past couple years, I've been hearing more and more about a method where people start learning languages by only listening. I've heard of several variations. In the most extreme versions, learners cannot speak, read or write. They are not supposed to focus too hard, or try to "figure things out" while they listen. Endurance of this stage also varies. I've heard everything from "a couple weeks" to 800 hours.

Do you think this is a good idea, and if so, which version?



reineke
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 Message 2 of 90
06 April 2007 at 11:37am | IP Logged 
I did that for Italian as a kid. I liked watching cartoons so it wasn't really a "method". I took forced breaks during winter or whenever the weather was bad. One day someone asked me what the heck am I staring at something I don't understand, and I told them the gist of the plot. I frankly do not know when I started understanding, as I was too much into the stories. It was a massive amount of tv time but it's still the language I know the best, I'm near-native, kinda like a native speaker that's been away for very long and needs some refreshing, if you know what I mean. That's mostly due to my laziness though heh.



LilleOSC
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 Message 3 of 90
06 April 2007 at 11:38am | IP Logged 
I think listening a lot is good, but I think that to get a good feel for a language (fluency for example) you must practice speaking.



reineke
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Studies: German

 
 Message 4 of 90
06 April 2007 at 12:32pm | IP Logged 
I forgot to mention that this is also exactly how I learned German. I bought my first satellite dish in 1990 and German channels were the most numerous. I spent a frightful amount of time on it. I did finish three years of elementary school German on my own and I stopped there (lazy bum). My German is lacking. I can understand just about everything (written and spoken) unless it's too technical but I'm at the point where I need to do a lot of reading (like I did for English and Italian) and grammar study or I won't progress any further. Compared to Italian, when I try to pronounce things I'm obviously foreign. I can fake it real well but I trip easily. I was relatively young when I started but not young enough. My advice is, yes it's possible but after "only" 800 hours you might be a little disappointed with your results. It might be different though if you try learning a related language. Another thing to think about is that you need massive amounts of material. And when I say massive I'm not kidding. You need several tv channels, access to a few thousand dvd's and many interesting radio channels. Boring material will cut you in the bud. No one has the spine to take 1000's of hours of boring material with this type of method. That's also one of the problems I'm currently facing with languages that are seemingly rather rich in multimedia material, namely Russian and Portuguese.

I just reread your post. I don't understand the part about not "focusing too hard" or "trying to figure things out". If you mean conscious effort, I don't think it's a problem with interesting material as it will draw you in. I did even as a kid occasionally peek in the dictionary though. I also sometimes pronounced things aloud for the heck of it. Doppio maglio perforante! Hahahaha. I think it's a silly rule.

Edited by reineke on 06 April 2007 at 1:01pm



leosmith
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Studies: Korean

 
 Message 5 of 90
06 April 2007 at 1:53pm | IP Logged 
reineke wrote:
I don't understand the part about not "focusing too hard" or "trying to figure things out".

I'm just repeating some of the stuff I've been hearing. Unfortunately the people at
http://www.algworld.com/
have updated their site (I think that's where I read that they don't want you to concentrate). But here's an interesting quote:
Quote:
Practice cannot help and in fact it damages one's ability to learn naturally.

edit:fixed misquote


Edited by leosmith on 06 April 2007 at 2:49pm





jeff_lindqvist
Diglot
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 Message 6 of 90
06 April 2007 at 2:09pm | IP Logged 
Ideally, you're better at producing sounds you have heard a lot, so with that in mind it seems to be a good point. But, depending on your reason to learn the language, you may not "afford" to spend hundreds of hours on just listening to the language.

Let's say I'm going abroad in a few months - no way I will listen to 600 hours before trying to utter a single sentence. I want to speak it NOW.

By the way, I wonder if there's actually any harm taking that "short cut" and go through the listening part at a later stage.



Farley
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 Message 7 of 90
06 April 2007 at 2:37pm | IP Logged 
Their URL as changed but the Writings page still has the Word documents that explain the listen only method. Check the "Learning Languages Like Children" document for the main overview.

They have an equation for what they call 'hours of understood listening'. They say we need around 1000 hours of understood input to learn another language subject to an easiness factor. So, for example, an English speaker needs 720 hours of understood listening to learn French, but 1800 hours for Thai. Understanding is elusive, because in a normal day what is understood may only amount to seconds! So to acquire the language this way could take years. That is usually what most of us are trying to avoid. In their case they advocate a certain curriculum to maximize the 'hours of understood listening'

It is interesting to contrast this method (which was all the rage last year here on the forum) with the 10,000 phrases approach advocated by bloggers, or for that matter the FSI approach advocated on this site. One method says it is listening, another says it is reading, or speaking or writing.

EDIT: One thing their site does not address is how you would apply “understood listening” to self learning when you have limited (or no) access to native speakers? Or what you do when you have reached the language threshold and there is no one to speak with? I think a lesson learned from all this is that we can cheat on audio courses and turn them in to listening as well as speaking exercises, and once we have the “sound” in our heads, use reading as “understood listening”.

Edited by Farley on 06 April 2007 at 2:53pm

1 person has voted this message useful



frenkeld
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 Message 8 of 90
06 April 2007 at 3:29pm | IP Logged 
Farley wrote:
It is interesting to contrast this method (which was all the rage last year here on the forum) with ...


We seem to have gone through a number of trends in the discussions in this forum, but the ones that have been most noticeably put into practice seem to be specific courses (e.g., Assimil, Pimsleur, FSI).

I've been wondering if anyone had actually picked up on one of the other previously discussed innovative methodologies and has a success story to tell.


Edited by frenkeld on 06 April 2007 at 3:44pm




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