Did the Listening-Reading method work for you?

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Dragon27
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Re: Did the Listening-Reading method work for you?

Postby Dragon27 » Mon Sep 20, 2021 7:23 pm

Le Baron wrote:I got lost in large parts of the story, not on the entire plot because I know the story, but in the sense of asking: what's being described exactly? Or knowing what's vaguely going on, but left with a huge surplus of words and constructions whose place and function I can't fathom at all. There are cognate words for both English/French I can easily work out and grammar I can transplant from French (though Spanish subjunctives are more widely employed). The following L2 text/audio just felt like an utter chore, maybe it has to be. Stuff registered, but you know stuff registers when I just read books and just listen to audio separately too. I didn't make any specific links between L1 text and L2. Other than the obvious fact that they are the same 'thing' in essence. Though translations tend to be works of art in their own right with their own 'feel'. I don't feel that they map onto one another in that way.
...
I'm still going to pursue this because I actually hope for it to offer something.

I don't know, kinda doubt it. Plowing through a large mass of text, just because you think you have to, not because you know what you're doing seems a little bit foolhardy to me. I mean, it still may click at some point, who knows, at the end of the incubation period if you did something right.
It would be better, of course, to proceed with the confident awareness of the mechanism, but as a beginner, you can probably only have a vague understanding at best. But you can't continue with purely faith-based approach indefinitely either, you have to think about what you're doing.
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Re: Did the Listening-Reading method work for you?

Postby Le Baron » Mon Sep 20, 2021 8:31 pm

Dragon27 wrote:I don't know, kinda doubt it. Plowing through a large mass of text, just because you think you have to, not because you know what you're doing seems a little bit foolhardy to me. I mean, it still may click at some point, who knows, at the end of the incubation period if you did something right.
It would be better, of course, to proceed with the confident awareness of the mechanism, but as a beginner, you can probably only have a vague understanding at best. But you can't continue with purely faith-based approach indefinitely either, you have to think about what you're doing.

What? You make seem like there is some known mechanism, but there clearly isn't. I'm following the steps as laid-out, so not just meandering about.
By all means point out this known mechanism to me so that I can follow it. But be sure to be accurate about what every step does and is supposed to achieve. I'd like to know what the very-experienced people are doing in what right now appears to be a pseudo-science.

Beginner... taking the bloody mick.
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Re: Did the Listening-Reading method work for you?

Postby RyanSmallwood » Tue Sep 21, 2021 2:49 am

Le Baron wrote:By all means point out this known mechanism to me so that I can follow it. But be sure to be accurate about what every step does and is supposed to achieve.


Well I can point out some mechanisms I notice, although I don't follow the original guide to the letter, so I don't know if it will be exactly the same as what the author intended or what others will say, but I'll try to differentiate my own experiences from what's in the guide, so hopefully some will help.

In the original guide it says step 1 (reading the text) and step 2 (L2 text and L2 audio) are optional, so I typically try to start out with step 3 (L1 text and L2 audio) and jump back to previous steps or do other kinds of study only if the process isn't working well.

My experience with step 1 is it depends a lot on the type of book. For a lot of popular fiction I didn't need it to follow the story, and since I'm not a heavy re-reader, I find sometimes it can even hurt my interest and focus in other steps if I'm too familiar. Since I've been trying more dense and complex texts, I've found they are sometimes harder for me to parse meaning with step 3, so that's when I find this step helpful, assuming its something naturally enjoy re-reading.

Step 2 personally feels weird to me and I don't do it as much, but the goal is to help you pick words out if the audio is still a blur. And the guide warns against doing this too much if you're not understanding and noticing too much new things, but in smaller doses it can be helpful. I've noticed some people like listening to L1 audiobooks while reading L1 texts, which also feels weird to me, so there might be some factor that makes this step more enjoyable for some people. I usually only try this for short passages or do other kinds of listening practice or repeat short passages in step 3 until I can notice words in audio more easily.

Step 3 for me is the core, and the original guide mentions its most important. Basically keeping the L1 text and audio in sync forces you to keep paying attention to the audio while reading in your L1, and the goal is to notice as many features in the audio as possible that you can figure out from the translation. If you notice the same thing in multiple contexts you start noticing it automatically and eventually in other contexts without translation. The more things you understand automatically the more new things pop up to your attention. I find with closely related languages even though I already "know" a lot of cognates, once I build up more automaticity of recognition, its easier to notice other new aspects of the language. Usually the easiest way to notice new things is when they're repeated a few times in a short time span, they usually forcibly jump to your attention, or sometimes seeing the same word a few times in the translation can cue you to listen for the same sound repeated even when the audio is largely incomprehensible. Also when the narrator is expressive and you re-listen to certain line readings, whole lines can get stuck in your head, if they're way above your level you may recognize the line but not understand the components, but once you learn enough of the components in other contexts, the rest will usually click very easily. When going through a text on a subsequent pass, you should remember things you noticed before, and notice new things that went over your head the first time.

The point of using longer texts is to get more repetition of words in new contexts, because usually you need to see things in multiple contexts to click, and it also helps you keep focused longer because the story is new while you're reviewing, and creates a spaced repetition effects as you notice things in different intervals. Also if portions of the text are incomprehensible, you need to find enough comprehensible portions to start making the incomprehensible portions become comprehensible.

Its also worth pointing out that the original guide recommends longer texts under the assumption that you are doing a lot of focused hours of Listening-Reading all day. Personally as I described earlier in the thread, I think it can be beneficial to repeat some early short sections of a text before doing a full read through, especially if you're new to the process and/or not doing it as intensively as originally described. This way you can kind of see how it works sooner, and make sure that you're focused enough and the narrator expressive enough, that certain parts of the language are getting hooked into your brain, and then when you have more confidence its working for you with this specific text at your specific level, you can go through more extensively. Also if its a text I'm unsure I'll re-read right away I find re-reading just sections before getting to the end helps me get more repetition in while staying interested and focused.

So to try to encapsulate the goal of step 3 (L1 text and L2 audio), its to help me focus on partly incomprehensible audio, while following the story, and trying to understand more parts of the audio than I did before and get line readings of the narrator stuck in my head, until I have enough core vocabulary/comprehension and familiarity with the narrator, that I can start re-listening to the audiobook normally without a translation and just use context to try and figure out remaining vocab.
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Re: Did the Listening-Reading method work for you?

Postby Dragon27 » Tue Sep 21, 2021 8:08 am

Le Baron wrote:You make seem like there is some known mechanism, but there clearly isn't.

Well, for me, the known mechanism that is at the core of the method is acquiring language through massive comprehensible exposure (as the author put it). You have the input (a book in the audio form), the means to make it comprehensible (translation, tape manipulation, preliminary language knowledge, i.e. of grammar and other systems, etc.), and all you have to do is to subject your brain to massive amounts of that comprehensible input. Of course, emotional state is an important component too. If you enjoy the book and the process, it will compel you to continue and make the language stick stronger in your brain.

The main step (listening to L2, reading L1 - or Step 3) is supposed to be executed with that idea in mind. If you listen to the text but can't make out the meaning using the translation (at least to some degree), then it's not working as intended. You're still doing some work, like getting accustomed to sounds/syllables and picking out some basic words, etc. The previous step (listening to L2, reading L2) is mainly targeted at this (becoming accustomed to the native flow of speech and to the sounds), so ideally that should be (partially) taken care of (the original Step 1 and Step 2 are there to just facilitate the Step 3). If the audio in the target language flies by without making the proper impression, then you should slow down. Listen to sentence by sentence, with pauses and relistening (or looping), trying to make sure you make out the words or phrases, grammar, sounds or other things you deem important, use L2 text to help you out (but don't let it do all the work for you). I've already quoted the author's L-R routine as a beginner with Japanese on the previous pages.

Of course you can't hope to immediately understand every element of the language perfectly (especially with more difficult texts) right from the start. RyanSmallwood made a good breakdown of the process: how your brain picks out the commonly repeated features and uses them to decipher more obscure parts, or takes its time recognizing the components of a complex phrase (it already knows the meaning of). And how additional passes through the (already familiar) text help you make out the stuff that you couldn't handle the first time (as well solidifying what you already know). Doing it too much though gives diminishing returns, you might find better exposure with new texts, when the old ones get stale (and the common language will repeat itself anyway).

Another thing I want to mention is taking into account the laziness of your brain. It heavily depends on the person, but I seem to notice that in myself. Relying on translation and other helpful tools is nice and all, but you have to make your brain independent in the end and not let it become too complacent. It should learn to understand new input without assistance. After many hours of listening if it doesn't start happening by itself, you should start nudging your brain in that direction.

A tangent.
I think, traditional textbooks usually rely on drilling your brain with certain structures and memorizing them or acquiring a skill of using them through targeted repetition. The patterns are often organized by difficulty so that you're able to build your (basic) language skill in an orderly fashion. In that regard I consider L-R akin to input-heavy approaches, that throw you in the sea of natural (as opposed to carefully constructed) material, where words and patterns repeat themselves following their actual usage. When you encounter a word or a phrase in the input you don't try to memorize it right then and there, you just make it meaningful for a second, and then let it go. It still makes an impression in your mind, and subsequent encounters with the word make it deeper. The spaced repetition is still there, it's just organized differently. Do you think it makes sense?

Le Baron wrote:taking the bloody mick

Hey, a new idiom for me!


edit:
Another important factor I forgot to mention. Obviously, if the text in your native language doesn't correspond to the text in your target language the learning mechanism is compromised. If you're just starting out with the method, you don't already have some workable knowledge of the language that can make up for it, and the translation significantly diverges from the original, you're screwed. I wasn't able to make the method work when I started out with Polish with the first book I chose for this exact reason. Fortunately, I was able to substitute it with another book the next day, that had a better (more faithful to the original, at least at first) translation.
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Re: Did the Listening-Reading method work for you?

Postby Le Baron » Tue Sep 21, 2021 11:38 am

It does look a lot like a description of just: input. Granted input all put together in one great plan, but really just: input. And input can be done in any organised way without it having a specially-devised new name or a prescriptive set of steps (which are made to look like a method).

Now I did read your entire post in good faith and I can also perhaps even modify how I approach this thing with some varied tactics based upon your discussion. However, this is not the description of a methodology, it is discussion about trial and error and bespoke approaches for different people which include or exclude this or that which 'may work for you'.

I learned German (and Dutch for that matter), for the most part, by listening to audio and watching television programmes, plus some study, plus reading books, plus talking to people - over time. The variety seems to me essential and also the rate of input spread among different mediums, not necessarily combined, but interacting and influencing one another. The L-R view seems to be more like hammering one particular thing in, like someone copying out one entire book to force familiarity. I don't think this is a foolproof plan or has any history of particular success behind it. I'm also highly sceptical of the view that it does anything for oral production above ordinary shadowing of audio, reading aloud etc.

I have to include the possibility that I am just totally wrong about this. That there are people who start a language, use this method and rapidly become proficient in the target language, but I've not come across such a person. I believe that if someone starts this and then three months later says: I learned the language, that they should then be able to e.g. get the train in a country where the language is spoken, interacting with people and understanding all the signs and signals. Can read the paper sufficiently and follow the TV; can go to the government offices and understand the forms they get; can be surprised in the street with a request and respond without looking like a deer in headlights... Or are people just reporting that they made it through a novel in a foreign language and went back through to deliberately fill in all gaps? What is L-R actually geared towards, because I think it is geared to working through a particular novel and preparing you for further novels. Certainly not to physically speaking to people or listening to multiple speakers.

It's very difficult to be a critic of something because people generally retort that it's part of a whole, even though it actually claims to be a holistic methodology! And that it's all about the 'mindset'. If that philosophy were true though homeopathic 'medicine' should also work if I just alter my mindset and be positive about it and accept the tenets, right?

Maybe I need to think more about this and to pursue further what I already started to see what happens.
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Re: Did the Listening-Reading method work for you?

Postby luke » Tue Sep 21, 2021 12:15 pm

Dragon27 wrote:A tangent.
I think, traditional textbooks usually rely on drilling your brain with certain structures and memorizing them or acquiring a skill of using them through targeted repetition.

An important thread in the aYa posts was making the learner independent of "the man". aYa didn't use that phrase, but he/she did decry some textbooks and teachers as self serving and detached from student outcomes.

He/she gave plenty of reasoning behind the method, but one thread in the reasoning is student independence. The student gets to pick the book they want to read in the language they want to learn. If they end up able to do that and perhaps read it aloud and understand it and have a conversation, only the most evil arrogant academic would say, "that doesn't count, they don't know what the genuflective is".

He/she didn't say "no grammar". She was a teacher. She loved her students. If a student didn't like grammar but loved a particular book, I'm sure she said, "give it a try" and "let me help you". If they got stuck, he/she was smart and intuitive enough to tell the student, "hey, there's this book of Harry Potter spells, but it's in Polish (your mother tongue). It's still very cryptic and secret - it doesn't even seem like a Harry Potter book - but it may help unlock some other keys in the The Philosopher Stone". She pulled out the grammar book and directed the student to a "helpful incantation" here and there if the student was having trouble putting some facet of the story together. Encourage the student. Get them exploring. Get them thinking. Make them independent.
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Re: Did the Listening-Reading method work for you?

Postby RyanSmallwood » Tue Sep 21, 2021 1:31 pm

Le Baron wrote:It does look a lot like a description of just: input. Granted input all put together in one great plan, but really just: input. And input can be done in any organised way without it having a specially-devised new name or a prescriptive set of steps (which are made to look like a method).

Yes, Listening-Reading is just another way to get input, its not re-inventing the wheel, to me I prefer to present it to people like this, its just like other learning methods you use, just try using native audiobooks, translations, and transcripts of books (which a lot of people seem allergic too, because it doesn't come pre-packaged together). The key aspect of Listening-Reading to me that I can't get from other methods, is the factor of keeping the TL audio and translation manually synced makes it so I can pay attention and learn to native level content without sacrificing story comprehension. With most other approaches I've seen it seems like you decide between (A) Comprehensible Input that usually isn't super interesting, beginner courses, or baby shows like Peppa Pig or (B) Incomprehensible Input that's more interesting, that you either have to use sentence mining or dictionary lookups and work through slowly to learn from. Listening-Reading offers a different tradeoff that some people may prefer over the above, you can get compelling comprehensible input using native-level books as a beginner, but it doesn't really become efficient unless you have books you naturally enjoy and get absorbed in re-reading. (Although if you can find beginner materials that are compelling and extensive enough, that would still be the best way to learn I think.)

To me it seems like the original author explains it like a 1 stop solve all your problems method, because what they want to do most in the world with their language is re-read their favorite books over and over again, so they use Listening-Reading until they 100% understand certain audiobooks, and then they can do other activities like watching TV, listening to radio, figuring out how to move passive to active vocabulary, all the activities other learners do, they just don't talk about it, because for them the learning process is about getting books they want to read to 100% comprehension first, and after that the others are easier.

For me personally, I enjoy reading, but I don't have too many books I can naturally enjoy re-reading right away a lot, so for me Listening-Reading is not the only thing I do, but it does play a key role in my language studies that I haven't found other methods to substitute for. So for me I kind of have two time slots during the day for language learning a short time slot for deliberate study, which is mostly just Anki reps, but if I have more time/energy some days can also be any kind of course-work or skill development I think I'm lacking, and a time slot for reading, which for beginner languages is a more casual version of Listening-Reading. Doing Listening-Reading in this casual way, I don't learn as many new things per minute as I do in my timeslot for deliberate study, but I do keep learning new things even at lowest possible energy levels, so it gives the benefit of (A) extending my study time in a day when I don't want to do any more deliberate study (B) It helps consolidate things I learned through deliberate study so I don't have to review as much and things naturally "click" easier, (C) It builds familiarity with certain books, so if/when I chose to re-read them I can leverage my background knowledge to learn more easily from them. This casual way may not necessarily be better than say watching television without subtitles if you enjoy it (especially with closely related languages with lots of cognates), but I prefer to learn using books, and this is the best way I've found to learn from books as a beginner.

So this is why I talked about Listening-Reading in your thread "Do you ever just get sick of language learning?", is that I see lots of people in the language learning having issues with, is they don't find their beginner materials fulfilling and motivating, and they don't find the amount of time investment until they can enjoy native materials worth it, and so they scale back the languages they want to study. For me Listening-Reading solves this, although it may not solve this for everyone, as you'd have to have lots of books available in translation and audiobooks formats that you're excited to go through.

I talked about this earlier in the thread, but currently I'm learning Mandarin listening, and Listening-Reading plays a key part in my routine. If you told me I would have to spend the 2200 FSI classroom hours + however many outside class hours assuming I'm as dedicated as an FSI student that whole time, I would probably say I'd never try to learn Mandarin. I'd rather just read stuff in translation than put that many hours of my life away to appreciate things in the original. But what I did find an acceptable tradeoff is to do a very casual version of Listening-Reading where I repeat the early sections of long books, and then go through them more extensively, and don't necessarily plan to re-read them right away unless I feel so motivated, and I also do some daily Anki study that I find manageable with the Chinese Spoonfed Anki deck, which I found more efficient for learning vocabulary as an absolute beginner, (and if I wanted to do other activities besides reading I would probably use other learning materials and not wait for Listening-Reading to do everything for me). So far its made the beginner and early intermediate phase of learning Mandarin a lot more enjoyable and sustainable as a hobby for me, and the stronger my foundation gets, the more easily I learn stuff from Listening-Reading and I have more and more books I'm familiar with that I can go through again as I transition to unassisted listening. So I'm many hundreds of hours in now, and quite happy with how I've progressed, I dunno how efficient I will be in the long run compared to someone who is trying to learn Mandarin as fast as possible, but since most of my study hours have been leisure reading, I also haven't "lost" many hours doing Mandarin study for its own sake (just some daily Anki), so in terms of efficiency of my personal goals of reading for fun and learning to understand more of the source language along the way, its quite efficient I think.

As for the claims of the original guide, I'm not sure I entirely buy into them or trust the author to accurately evaluate their skill level. But during the times I have been naturally motivated to re-read the same book in a short time span, I have noticed the amount I learn from the method goes up, so I can kind of imagine that if I was hyper-obsessed with certain books the way I was about certain kinds of media when I was younger, it could have the potential to be very fast (though again, I don't know if as fast as the original author claims). I would say though its better not trying to go into it trying to replicate this kind of intensive super fast style of learning, it seems like something that would rather happen to you, in that you'd have to wait to find a book you naturally are obsessed enough to re-read, which might never happen for some people. But again, I think even using the method more casually has a lot of benefits not offered by other methods, and if you get lucky and find stuff to obsess over, all the better.

Anyways sorry this post became quite long, but to kind of sum it up, I'd just say for me Listening-Reading is just the most effective way I've found to learn from books as a beginner and enjoy the process. Its just one potential tool/activity among many others, and I just encourage anyone who is learning language for reading to try it out and see if it finds a place in their routine. And if you're not primarily interested in reading, feel free to keep using other activities that more directly develop other skills.
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Re: Did the Listening-Reading method work for you?

Postby Le Baron » Tue Sep 21, 2021 1:45 pm

Don't apologise! It's a good comprehensive post and worth reading. It's good to have something to balance against my own long-winded diatribes. :lol: I'll come back later and read it again (in true L-R spirit...jest) so that I can identify what might make this process more useful for me or if it is right for me at all.

So yes, thanks for taking the trouble.
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Re: Did the Listening-Reading method work for you?

Postby einzelne » Tue Sep 21, 2021 1:56 pm

Le Baron wrote:It does look a lot like a description of just: input. Granted input all put together in one great plan, but really just: input. And input can be done in any organised way without it having a specially-devised new name or a prescriptive set of steps (which are made to look like a method).


Well, that's how I read it when I first came across it. For me, it was an organic continuation of Assimil (I described my experience earlier in this thread). If you cut all the nonsense and boasting in the description of this "method", this is what it is.
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Re: Did the Listening-Reading method work for you?

Postby lusan » Tue Sep 21, 2021 2:10 pm

Le Baron wrote:I learned German (and Dutch for that matter), for the most part, by listening to audio and watching television programmes, plus some study, plus reading books, plus talking to people - over time. The variety seems to me essential and also the rate of input spread among different mediums, not necessarily combined, but interacting and influencing one another.


An ideal method as far as my own experience. Love it. Any basic book to get grounded, then listen, watch serials, read increasingly difficult books, a little grammar study, a little talk here and there and done. It is trivial. Why to make it so difficult? That's what I did for both French and Italian. French done in 2 years, Italian in 8 months. Knowing English and being native Spanish helps a lot. Not with Polish!

Le Baron wrote:The L-R view seems to be more like hammering one particular thing in, like someone copying out one entire book to force familiarity. I don't think this is a foolproof plan or has any history of particular success behind it. I'm also highly sceptical of the view that it does anything for oral production above ordinary shadowing of audio, reading aloud etc.


100 %.

Le Baron wrote: I have to include the possibility that I am just totally wrong about this. That there are people who start a language, use this method and rapidly become proficient in the target language, but I've not come across such a person. I believe that if someone starts this and then three months later says: I learned the language, that they should then be able to e.g. get the train in a country where the language is spoken, interacting with people and understanding all the signs and signals. Can read the paper sufficiently and follow the TV; can go to the government offices and understand the forms they get; can be surprised in the street with a request and respond without looking like a deer in headlights...


I don't believe anyone talks about learning a language in less than 1 year and without a LOT of work or prior experience. Actually, I am not even sure to understand what they mean by knowing a language AT ALL. I studied Polish for more than 5 years and I don't dare to say that I know Polish.

Le Baron wrote: Or are people just reporting that they made it through a novel in a foreign language and went back through to deliberately fill in all gaps? What is L-R actually geared towards, because I think it is geared to working through a particular novel and preparing you for further novels. Certainly not to physically speaking to people or listening to multiple speakers.

It's very difficult to be a critic of something because people generally retort that it's part of a whole, even though it actually claims to be a holistic methodology! And that it's all about the 'mindset'. If that philosophy were true though homeopathic 'medicine' should also work if I just alter my mindset and be positive about it and accept the tenets, right?



100 % d'accord!
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