Listening vs Comprehension (and the case against TV) [interesting article]

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Re: Listening vs Comprehension (and the case against TV) [interesting article]

Postby s_allard » Wed Apr 26, 2017 10:20 am

As I follow the debate I'm not sure that the use of the term intensive listening means the same thing for everybody. In my opinion, intensive listening has two components: many repetitions and focused analysis of the linguistic content. The purpose of this is to improve the level of understanding - and ultimately that of speaking.

Intensive listening can only be done with relatively short samples of speech, but what is interesting is to work with a variety of different speaking genres. While a lot of talk has been made about TV series, there is a lot to be said about looking at other kinds of spoken language. Youtube is a fabulous resource for this.

As a concrete example, I look no further than the April 26 web page of the Spanish newspaper El mundo. In an article on a case of corruption in the Madrid area, the newspaper gives a transcript of a telephone conversation recorded by the police and then explains, not the linguistic contents, but more the political significance of this conversation.

Linguistically, it is interesting to see how very important politicians use informal language with lots of slang when speaking with each other and far from the cameras. Actually, there are elements that I don't understand. I'll have to bring them up with my tutor later today. This sort of stuff is very important for understanding real native informal speech.
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Re: Listening vs Comprehension (and the case against TV) [interesting article]

Postby PeterMollenburg » Wed Apr 26, 2017 1:20 pm

blaurebell wrote:
neofight78 wrote:It may be different for languages other than Russian, but from my experience what you've described there is a B1 exam and not B2. For a B2 exams you'll get real world audio clips complete with low quality recordings, background noise and scenes from films. B1 is where you'd get dialogs read by actors and crystal clear audio.


Good to know! I've listened to audio for B2 exams for Spanish and those neither had accents nor any background noise. The stuff was supposedly taken from the radio, but the way they went from one speaker to the next was so unnatural and weird that it can only have been voice actors - and bad ones at that. I don't know, maybe someone mixed up the files and it was really the audio for the B1 exam?


I've been doing some B2 listening activities from a DELF B2 exam prep. course and there most definitely are some deliberately poor quality recordings, as it's expected at this level to cope with such things.
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Re: Listening vs Comprehension (and the case against TV) [interesting article]

Postby smallwhite » Thu May 04, 2017 12:11 pm

smallwhite wrote:
rdearman wrote:
smallwhite wrote:But intensive listening in my case is not 50h but just 10-20h so I choose intensive, and then spend the difference (300-10) doing anything I want to - watching the same series, or another one in another language, or just anything. Understanding something 290 hours later than I could have is torture in itself!

Could you elaborate on your technique for intensive listening. A "For Dummies" guide would be greatly appreciated. :D

Just listening with transcript. Not too different from Ari's Chinesepod Method. And not "hard work" at all to me. I do 5- to 10-minute sessions. I remember blaurebell mentioning listening to a podcast about Bauhaus. So I would listen to it while reading the transcript.

Thought I'd write a bit more.

First of all, I had a short face-to-face chat with Ari once, his Cantonese was excellent, so Ari’s Chinesepod method is your friend.

My method is largely similar - first I listen to an audio clip together with its transcript, hearing it perfectly, then I re-listen to it multiple times. In practice,

* I use audio-transcript pairs where the transcript is easy (no or minimal dictionary look-up needed) and where the audio is hard at first but comprehensible (you can make out the words and syllables) after listening once or twice while reading the transcript. So a 2-minute audio clip would take 2 or 4 minutes to listen-read.

* Then I replay the clip in the background for an hour or two, paying attention here and there, eg. while waiting for a webpage to load. No need to pay full attention at this stage because the clip would still be fresh and easy (that's my excuse anyway).

* I keep a log of my audio clips and I pick things to replay in the background from this log.

That's it. So 2 to 4 minutes of dedicated time, then just background listening. Needs some getting-used-to at first, but after a few clips you'd know what kind of audio-transcript sets to go for and how hard they should be. Adjust playback speed if clips are too hard or too easy.

For Italian, I have 6:07 hours of such clips, so the initial listening-with-transcript part would have taken me 6 to 12 hours. Allow for overhead and filing time, so I said recently that I had spent 12 to 24 hours on intensive listening in Italian. 4:17 hours of the clips are from textbooks like Teach Yourself, 0:50 hours from this podcast, and 0:59 hours from LingQ. I also listen to the radio.

Further elaboration here, 07-12-2017.
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Re: Listening vs Comprehension (and the case against TV) [interesting article]

Postby smallwhite » Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:23 am

smallwhite wrote:I have B2 listening (per mock tests) in Italian (scored 80%), German (scored 80%) and Swedish (actual score unknown). ... This is what I did before getting those scores:

Italian: 1 movie which I didn't understand much of; 12 to 24 hours of intensive listening.
German: 1 movie and 1 episode of TV which I didn't understand much of; 10 to 15 hours of intensive listening.
Swedish: 13 to 15 hours of intensive listening; 8 hours of TV recently.

I also have audio in the background sometimes, ...

PS.: I didn't try the C1 tests. Maybe I can pass them, maybe not; I don't know.

My Nth attempt to lead horses to water, Xmmm is not going to say that I'm coy about my listening methods!

In case anyone thinks I'm born good at listening - I didn't use this transcript method when learning Mandarin and Japanese, and my listening ability in these 2 languages is very low. The other day I listened to someone sing a slow Mandarin song that I also used to sing at Karaoke. I remember the chorus and could sing along with him, but I don't remember the verse and understood next to nothing of what he was singing. I probably just caught the I's and you's, if that. I studied Japanese up to N2 (4th level) while my listening remains at about the middle of N5 (1st level). With Dutch I did use this method but not much, and already my listening is weaker although I do listen to the radio.

Some advice-givers tell you WHY their method works, because the brain this and because your ears that. I don't like to do that because I think it's just conjecture. I prefer to just state effort vs result.

Just to add the latest info on what I did before I scored B2 in Greek listening at Dialang. The method itself is described earlier in this thread and in some of my posts elsewhere.

587 hours dedicated study + around 148 hours background listening, over about 160 days over 263 calendar days. Scored B1 in listening about halfway and B2 after.
Out of the 587 dedicated study hours, 56 hours was listening work; at least 9 hours of that was admin work, and the remaining 47 hours or less was typical listening work.
Almost all of the 47 hours involved a transcript in one form or another.
Besides that, 141 (24%) of the 587 hours dedicated study was (5,709) vocabulary flashcards with computer voice. (But didn't seem to help listening much).
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Re: Listening vs Comprehension (and the case against TV) [interesting article]

Postby Xmmm » Tue Feb 13, 2018 5:31 pm

smallwhite wrote:My Nth attempt to lead horses to water, Xmmm is not going to say that I'm coy about my listening methods!


I actually tried your method when you first outlined it. My hours for listening in Italian and Russian count the "intensive" first pass on the various dialogues, but not the background listening. I probably did 100 hours of background listening in each language.

Unfortunately, I kept watching TV at the same time, so I have no scientific conclusions. It felt more useful in Russian (where I have real listening comprehension issues), and less useful in Italian (where I don't know some vocab but can hear the word boundaries fine).

My overall conclusion: People who are A2 or less in listening comprehension could definitely try this approach. Graded content and transcripts definitely make things less intimidating. It might be helpful to bring them up to a B1 level, at which point they should abandon this approach and watch TV. :)

Speaking of Italian, I watched Nebbie e delitti a couple nights ago and was amazed that my comprehension was about 70%.* I watched that show about a year ago and was just picking up individual words. I tested B1 on Dialang a while back so should be pretty close to a B2 by now in listening comprehension, with just 300 hours of extensive listening and 100 hours of 'the smallwhite method'. The 300 hours of TV was definitely more fun, that's for sure.


*It's amazingly wonderful that my Italian improves relatively quickly, but then I think about Russian and get depressed.
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Re: Listening vs Comprehension (and the case against TV) [interesting article]

Postby smallwhite » Tue Feb 13, 2018 5:49 pm

Xmmm wrote:
I actually tried your method when you first outlined it.

As I remember, you were doing what Ari was doing but not what I was doing. You were using material with lots of unknown words. I use material with zero unknown words or as few as possible.

If I am like you in Italian, hearing okay but not knowing vocabulary, I would work on vocabulary and count the work as vocabulary time rather than listening time, even if it involves audio. Like the flashcard time in my last post.

You said you did background listening for 100 hours, then you said you did sw method for 100 hours. ??? What was the listening-while-reading-transcript time / desk time?

I don't love the method either but TV is worse :)
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Re: Listening vs Comprehension (and the case against TV) [interesting article]

Postby Xmmm » Tue Feb 13, 2018 6:24 pm

smallwhite wrote:As I remember, you were doing what Ari was doing but not what I was doing. You were using material with lots of unknown words. I use material with zero unknown words or as few as possible.


Well, yes. I was using material with some unknown words. Not lots of unknown words, though. I was doing pod101 "beginner" and "lower intermediate" stuff. With pod101, they are not building their dialogues off a frequency list so maybe it's very hard to find things with no unknown words, except at the "absolute beginner" level where the dialogues are 6 seconds long.

smallwhite wrote:If I am like you in Italian, hearing okay but not knowing vocabulary, I would work on vocabulary and count the work as vocabulary time rather than listening time, even if it involves audio. Like the flashcard time in my last post.


Yeah, I'm working hard on vocabulary these days. I don't like anki at all, but I'm trying to follow Paul Nation's advice these days (paraphrased as "learning words in isolation is lame, but it's so fast compared to other methods that you ought to do some just for the heck of it"). Knowing more words in Italian seems to solve most of my problems in Italian.

You said you did background listening for 100 hours, then you said you did sw method for 100 hours. ??? What was the listening-while-reading-transcript time / desk time?


For Italian, it was about 6 hours at the desk. Then for background, I listened sometimes in the car (in the beginning when it was not as boring), and then later while working when it became true background listening. And it was 100 hours +/- 30.

For Russian, it was more like 12 hours at the desk. Instead of listen 2x with transcript, more like 4-5x.
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Re: Listening vs Comprehension (and the case against TV) [interesting article]

Postby smallwhite » Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:03 am

Xmmm wrote:I was using material with some unknown words. ...
For Russian, ... Instead of listen 2x with transcript, more like 4-5x.

You see, I find it hard to describe my methods to people. To me - and I understand not to everyone or even anyone - using easy material is an important element of my method. Because, at the very least, that's what allows you to cover 1 hour of material in 2 hours (by listening just once or twice). And it lets you achieve i+1 rather than i+2. And I want my later background re-listening time to consist of 100% known words and be well understood, or as close as possible (thus 100% productive and 0% noise); I want the words in the audio to jump into my ears by themselves rather than have me straining to catch them... the list of reasons go on.

You said I'm coy about operational details of my methods but I did tell:

smallwhite wrote:* I use audio-transcript pairs where the transcript is easy (no or minimal dictionary look-up needed) and where the audio is hard at first but comprehensible (you can make out the words and syllables) after listening once or twice while reading the transcript. So a 2-minute audio clip would take 2 or 4 minutes to listen-read.


Xmmm wrote:With pod101, they are not building their dialogues off a frequency list so maybe it's very hard to find things with no unknown words, except at the "absolute beginner" level where the dialogues are 6 seconds long.

I understand it could be hard to find material exactly at that level. I would search harder, use LingQ, use material I don't love, slow down the audio, learn more vocabulary first and use this material later, learn the article's vocabulary first.
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Re: Listening vs Comprehension (and the case against TV) [interesting article]

Postby Xmmm » Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:27 pm

smallwhite wrote:
Xmmm wrote:I was using material with some unknown words. ...
For Russian, ... Instead of listen 2x with transcript, more like 4-5x.

You see, I find it hard to describe my methods to people. To me - and I understand not to everyone or even anyone - using easy material is an important element of my method. Because, at the very least, that's what allows you to cover 1 hour of material in 2 hours (by listening just once or twice). And it lets you achieve i+1 rather than i+2. And I want my later background re-listening time to consist of 100% known words and be well understood, or as close as possible (thus 100% productive and 0% noise); I want the words in the audio to jump into my ears by themselves rather than have me straining to catch them... the list of reasons go on.

You said I'm coy about operational details of my methods but I did tell:


I'm not complaining, right? I tried to follow the instructions as I understood them. I didn't feel it was a waste of time the way that I did it. It is boring, though, relative to the TV method.

I know you hate TV but there's a lot of variety. I hate a great deal of TV also, but there is stuff a lot better out there than LingQ or Pod101 dialogues.

smallwhite wrote:* I use audio-transcript pairs where the transcript is easy (no or minimal dictionary look-up needed) and where the audio is hard at first but comprehensible (you can make out the words and syllables) after listening once or twice while reading the transcript. So a 2-minute audio clip would take 2 or 4 minutes to listen-read.

Xmmm wrote:With pod101, they are not building their dialogues off a frequency list so maybe it's very hard to find things with no unknown words, except at the "absolute beginner" level where the dialogues are 6 seconds long.

I understand it could be hard to find material exactly at that level. I would search harder, use LingQ, use material I don't love, slow down the audio, learn more vocabulary first and use this material later, learn the article's vocabulary first.


This involves work, work, work, and work. TV is an effortless approach.

Let's say you can get the same results in 100 hours of work that someone watching TV can get in 300 hours. For most people, your method is more efficient in terms of time, but less efficient in terms of "work units".

I can say with authority that watching "La casa di carta" was no work at all. Very entertaining show, and I didn't need any subtitles or rewinding. I watched it just like I would have watched in English, and that's all I did. And since Italian is a more pleasant language to listen to than English, and the Italian voice actors are always very enthusiastic ... to me watching it dubbed into Italian actually enhances the experience (that particular show was originally in Spanish, but it applies to everything).

I think you are on the extreme end of TV hating (maybe at the 100 mark). I'm more at the 80 mark. Most things I can't stand to watch, but I can drop them after 15 minutes and I still get 15 minutes listening credit.
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Re: Listening vs Comprehension (and the case against TV) [interesting article]

Postby smallwhite » Thu Feb 15, 2018 3:57 am

Xmmm wrote:
I'm not complaining, right?

No no, you're not. I am! :P

Anyway, I don't want to attach my name to this method because it is hardly a method. I'll leave it to Benny and Lucas et al to attach their names to their earth-shattering methods.

And re-listening is Ari's method, or what I see as the main idea of his method. I think his method is great and easy to apply, and I've recommended it many times already. I added details on how I do it myself only to bump the thread, really. And both times only for rdearman, really, but he's not tempted :P

Xmmm wrote:Most things I can't stand to watch, but I can drop them after 15 minutes and I still get 15 minutes listening credit.

I know, but I press the play button and they don't start talking until 3 minutes later? They show stupid things like handsome men and naked girls and hot sex scenes, but they don't talk?

Xmmm wrote:Let's say you can get the same results in 100 hours of work that someone watching TV can get in 300 hours.

You're comparing the 100 hrs background listening to the 300 hrs dedicated TV.
I compare the 6 hrs dedicated LR to the 300 hrs dedicated TV.

If you can pay ~90% attention to the audio while you drive, that's not the background listening that I mean. You could've done a Michel Thomas lesson, so re-listening while driving is actually taking away your study time. I only re-listen in otherwise dead time, eg. while working. So it's my 6 hours vs your 300 hours, not my 100 hours vs your 300 hours.

And I don't use this method exclusively either. I listen to the radio as well. So, desk time with transcript + re-listening in background + radio in background.
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