Did the Listening-Reading method work for you?

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

Postby Le Baron » Wed Sep 22, 2021 7:24 pm

It'll be unpopular, but this is what I see going on:

1. Simply the reading of novels and following the audiobook of the novel. Nothing more.
2. That the addition of knowing the L1 text is beneficial in terms of putting you in a position of not being befuddled by plot details - so that you're not completely lost with the target language. Just like reading the novel assists you with parsing the film version (or vice-versa)...
3. But that reading along in the L1 text and the target audio does absolutely nothing, makes no sense, and is, to use a popularised word, complete 'woo'.
4. That reading a book and its accompanying audio is not a 'method', but actually just reading a book and the accompanying audio. Even if you do it multiple times with detailed focusing upon sentences and/or comparison translations (which is probably something else just incorporated). And resulting familiarity - with anything actually - will and always has had an effect on fixing bits of it in your passive and active memory.

I've read through a lot of posts, on here and by following links elsewhere, multiple times on multiple occasions now. Very often it looks to me like a rain dance, where folk really think that incantations and certain special patterns and acts are the cause of the (expected) result. The fact that some results do occur doesn't surprise me, because you'd expect to gain familiarity from reading books and listening to the audio if you did it repeatedly. There was the suggestion, probably rightly so, that books and audiobooks are a rather new arrival in the language-learning world. That's maybe true for very long-form audio and transcripts, yet it doesn't much change the fact that reading a book and listening to the same in audio is just that and not a 'method'.

Now the name 'listening-reading' is still a fair description of text novel+audiobook, but the 'method' bit, and the convoluted varieties of: 'L1, then audio, then L1 plus L2 audio then L2 + audio, then repeat, then audio alone...' or whatever magic steps people decide to take, looks like a lot of made up hocus pocus. And that the actual effect is just from very simple repeated reading and listening/reading.
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Re: Did the Listening-Reading method work for you?

Postby RyanSmallwood » Wed Sep 22, 2021 8:02 pm

Well, I don’t have anything against characterizing it as getting familiar with audiobooks through repeated listening and text. I don’t quite understand you characterizing as “woo or hocus pocus” while also not being surprised that people see benefits.

Anyways, I’ve already outlined how it works for me, why I see it as beneficial, and how people who think it would help them can see the mechanisms working for themselves in a relatively short amount of time if they’re so interested. But beyond that I have no strong motivation to convince any skeptics, but the information is there for anyone interested enough to try it out and I’ll leave it at that.
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Re: Did the Listening-Reading method work for you?

Postby Le Baron » Wed Sep 22, 2021 8:19 pm

There are no mechanisms though beyond reading/listening. The whole doesn't seem to be more than the sum of its parts.

Take note though that I am still doing this experiment. Still going through the book/audio and have tried a few arrangements based upon posts above. So I'm not dumping it and just writing out of frustration or despair or anything. I'm actually trying it. I think I will even try another book/audio to make sure it's not just a case of one book, one opinion. I'm going to give this a thorough run through. If it changes I will come back and eat my words.
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Re: Did the Listening-Reading method work for you?

Postby RyanSmallwood » Wed Sep 22, 2021 8:38 pm

Sure, I guess I never thought there was any mechanism beyond listening and reading, although that may be my preference to emphasize the continuity with other methods, and I can see how the original guide may lead people to think there's some additional magic. Its parallel texts with the convenience of modern audiobooks and some meta-strategies about how to start as a beginner.

I guess some other ways I'd explain it to emphasize the similarity with other methods would be, its just Assimil, except instead of having it presented from simple to difficult sentences, you get a range of simple to complex sentences thrown at you, and more repetition of things in new contexts, which I find more helpful since I often get more "stuck" with Assimil with more distant languages. (but if you prefer to be more direct and start with guaranteed simple sentences, then start with Assimil, or start with both).

Or its similar in end goal to how Steve Kaufmann looks up words with LingQ and listens to audio, except instead of going slowly and looking up every new word as they come up, it lets you go through extensively first, learn the most frequent words first, get more familiar with the story and the narrator's voice, and then you can pick out the last details more easily.

So yes, I'd just call it some helpful strategies to start incorporating listening and reading from native materials as a beginner that I don't see many people taking advantage of.
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Re: Did the Listening-Reading method work for you?

Postby luke » Wed Sep 22, 2021 10:25 pm

Le Baron wrote:What are 'typical results' in a scenario of widely different starting places, abilities, approaches, usage of the system...?

I'm not being obtuse here, I know that e.g. many people can buy the same tennis equipment and follow the same basic rules and still get different results - some put the equipment in a cupboard forever and some win tennis tournaments.

Linguaphone, e.g. puts forward a stepwise method for how a student proceeds. Of the thousands who follow it there will be differences in how they exactly carry this out, but everyone basically following the same steps and having been told what it is intended to achieve, should expect this to happen to a reasonable degree.

Is this an incorrect analysis?

Your tennis equipment is apropos here.

Linguaphone is different.

Linguaphone, as I understand it is a good course with audio and manuals, often identical between between languages (at least in the good old days, per Professor Arguelles).

But Linguaphone is course. A good one for systematically getting beginners up to speed. It's something you buy.

There is no Listen-Reading course.

Example: I can't buy the hyper-literal or outstanding parallel text + audiobook by a great narrator of the book I want to read. The book and "great narrator" will vary from person to person, but if 5% of books have great, extremely accurate literary translations and 5% of the narrators are "great", the math is .05 * .05 = .0025 or 1 in 400. Then you divide the 1 in 400 by personal taste and the universe of "Listen-Reading courses" drops even further. (winnowed further by parallel text availability, a phonology course and other things the author talked about).

The "math" there is just to indicate the difficulty of recreating the "method" or experiment.

It was hard to prove that the Sun bends light too, but it's possible and was done.

Le Baron wrote:It'll be unpopular, but this is what I see going on:

I wrote a point by point rebuttal of that summary, but it wasn't as amable (amiable, kind) as I would like to be, so <deleted> :)

The aYa "page of wonder" brings up a lot more than the what you summarized in #1.

The author gave a rule of thumb:
aYa Listen-Reading rule of thumb wrote:The rule of thumb: if you read the explanations below (it’s the most important post, you can safely ignore the rest), experiment a little bit, and the advantages are not immediately obvious, L-R is not for you.

I'll add my own.
If you're not fascinated by the sprawling "L-R the most important passages" manifesto, it's not for you.

My buddy RyanSmallwood will likely disagree with my "rule of thumb", but that just shows that the faithful are actually Awe Riders and there are many waves on this ocean and we are all both eternal and ephemeral.
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Re: Did the Listening-Reading method work for you?

Postby sfuqua » Thu Sep 23, 2021 1:36 am

When I hit my midlife crisis a few years ago, I didn't change religions or have an affair, I got an MS in Computer Science and went to work at NASA. While NASA tries to make its spacecraft safe and reliable, some of the computer equipment we worked on was very, very tempermental. NASA is full of people with a scientific outlook on things, but a running joke was that some of that equipment needed a little ritual to work right.

"Spin around once before you power up that switch."
"It wouldn't boot? Did you hold your mouth right?"

And my favorite thing was the supercomputer that would only boot if you went to lunch.

We had to power down the building one night to fix the aircon, and one of the supercomputers wouldn't boot. I was on call, so I went in at 3AM to work on it. I tried all my tricks. MY crew came in at 8AM and then we all worked on it. By 1130 AM we were out of ideas. Somebody had even suggested, "Have you called technical support?" Which got the usual, "You are technical support." I suggested that we go to lunch and see if a new strategy would occur to us. We all left, and I was leaving, my manager raced out to the parking lot, and I was ready for the scolding about eating while a critical piece of equipment was down... and he said, "Great work, X is just finishing its boot sequence now." "There'll be a little bonus for the whole team on Friday... " Which led to new superstitions about how to fix a stubborn supercomputer.... "Go to lunch and leave it alone." "Hit the power button and turn your back."
I really don't believe any of the superstitions, but still...

An organic system like L-R may have picked up some scruff along the way in the inventor's mind, but I still think the basic idea of L2 and L1 text and L2 (sometimes mayble L1) audio can be pretty amazing.


And I still don't know why that supercomputer wouldn't boot...
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Re: Did the Listening-Reading method work for you?

Postby Dragon27 » Thu Sep 23, 2021 7:13 am

Le Baron wrote:reading a book and its accompanying audio is not a 'method', but actually just reading a book and the accompanying audio.

I'm a little confused by this harping on the idea the L-R "is not a method". It seems to me a complete non-issue, whether you call it one way or the other (whether your personal subjective criteria of what could be considered worthy of being called a 'method' are met or not), yet this is not the first time you repeat this claim. What for? What kind of point are you trying to get to?
I have no problem calling it a method, even with its variations, that may or may not have been specified by the author, if what I believe are the core principles remain the same.

Le Baron wrote:Simply the reading of novels and following the audiobook of the novel. Nothing more.

Le Baron wrote:And resulting familiarity - with anything actually - will and always has had an effect on fixing bits of it in your passive and active memory.

Le Baron wrote:There are no mechanisms though beyond reading/listening. The whole doesn't seem to be more than the sum of its parts.

I guess, if we're being reductionists, we can just say that all methods are essentially just ways of organizing repetition of various language elements (repetition of their production or comprehension), modified by additional psychological factors (like our emotional state).
I'm not sure what kind of 'woo' you were expecting. The basic principles have been laid out by the author, and there's nothing supernatural about them.
Also, there seems to be no middle point in your criticism. It's either 'woo' with no scientific mechanism behind it, or just this and that already known activity, and nothing more to it.

I'm not sure what's wrong with 'sum of its parts' thing. If you just read a text in translation, you won't learn any foreign language. If you listen to the text in the target language you barely learn anything either. If you listen to the text in the target language while reading translation and trying to work out correspondence in meaning you will learn some foreign language. Is that what you're talking about?

Le Baron wrote:But that reading along in the L1 text and the target audio does absolutely nothing, makes no sense, and is, to use a popularised word, complete 'woo'.

Why does it make no sense? It seems pretty straightforward: the translation is there to help you with comprehension. What other possible role could it play?
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Re: Did the Listening-Reading method work for you?

Postby Le Baron » Thu Sep 23, 2021 9:47 am

Dragon27 wrote:I'm a little confused by this harping on the idea the L-R "is not a method". It seems to me a complete non-issue, whether you call it one way or the other (whether your personal subjective criteria of what could be considered worthy of being called a 'method' are met or not), yet this is not the first time you repeat this claim. What for? What kind of point are you trying to get to?
I have no problem calling it a method, even with its variations, that may or may not have been specified by the author, if what I believe are the core principles remain the same.

There is no 'harping on'. I'm not the one who named it a 'method', so I think questioning it is perfectly legitimate. It's also nothing to do with subjectivity, methods are fairly explicit and defined in things specifically called methods. The word 'method' has an actual meaning. In truth anything can be loosely called a methodology if someone defines steps, but for something to be worthwhile it has to have some sort of defined and predictable outcome. Like the method of making tea, which may turn out well or badly depending on the skill of the person doing it, but the steps for doing it are defined and known and predictable with a defined end product. You may 'believe' the core principles remain the same with a lot of extraneous stuff wrapped around it according to taste, but I don't.

Dragon27 wrote:I guess, if we're being reductionists, we can just say that all methods are essentially just ways of organizing repetition of various language elements (repetition of their production or comprehension), modified by additional psychological factors (like our emotional state).

It's not reductionism, it's looking at something and describing what it is, rather than adding whimsical extras. If questioning dubious private orders of steps, supposedly producing an outcome (though not in any reproducible way) is reductionism, then good name me a reductionist. I prefer it.

Dragon27 wrote:I'm not sure what kind of 'woo' you were expecting. The basic principles have been laid out by the author, and there's nothing supernatural about them.

I'm not expecting any kind of woo. I'm actually expecting there to be no woo. The 'basic principles' are a description of reading books while listening to the accompanying audio. After that the 'steps' seem to be both defined as fixed, but also according to taste. All bases covered.

Dragon27 wrote:Also, there seems to be no middle point in your criticism. It's either 'woo' with no scientific mechanism behind it, or just this and that already known activity, and nothing more to it.

I don't even know what that is supposed to mean. What and where is 'the middle'?

Dragon27 wrote:Why does it make no sense? It seems pretty straightforward: the translation is there to help you with comprehension. What other possible role could it play?

Dragon27 wrote:I'm not sure what's wrong with 'sum of its parts' thing. If you just read a text in translation, you won't learn any foreign language. If you listen to the text in the target language you barely learn anything either. If you listen to the text in the target language while reading translation and trying to work out correspondence in meaning you will learn some foreign language. Is that what you're talking about?

Regarding the bit in bold: says who? There's no known or proven research outcome that reading translations while listening to target audio aids meaningful learning apart from picking out things by sheer guesswork. It even assumes a sort of 'intelligibility' between translations which are literary constructions in their own right according to the particular languages used.
No better than guesswork when reading translated subtitles when watching a film. They don't even map together the majority of the time. Which is why I think it is quackery. The suggestion is that it somehow 'reveals itself' by sheer force of repetition. I don't believe it. L2 text/audio yes, L1 text/L2 audio no. That would be like reading the piano reduction of a symphony whilst listening to a symphony and trying to map the orchestral writing. In fact that is probably easier, but why do it when you can just read the orchestral score and learn directly?

I don't think there is actually very much in language learning that can be called 'a method'. Certainly not beyond just personal ways of organising the few known quantities. Somehow we just have to get familiar with words and structure and the only known ways of doing it are:

1. Exposure to language in context = talking and listening to people/reading and listening.
2. Some explanations of what is happening in this process when things are unclear.

So that the vast majority of 'my method' approaches are just guesswork, or just descriptions of how a person personally does a basic thing anyone else can do. It may well help or it may not. The raw materials though are the same: reading/listening/speaking/recognition/repetition/familiarity. If anyone can provide a meaningful explanation of how L-R is something more than just reading a book you're already familiar with, but in a target language and listening to its accompanying audio, I'd like to hear about it.
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Re: Did the Listening-Reading method work for you?

Postby Kraut » Thu Sep 23, 2021 11:11 am

The method and a promise

http://ear2memory.com/

Ear2Memory (E2M; install here) is a free Power Repeat app by Bernd Sebastian Kamps that will help you learn any language in the world. By efficiently managing your language audio files, E2M will enable you, within less than four months, to clearly distinguish and understand, word for word, one hour of foreign speech (you’ll ‘conquer an island of total understanding’).

In the process, you will

Learn your first 1000 to 2000 words
Have excellent spelling skills
Develop an intuitive comprehension of important grammar rules
Acquire a fairly genuine accent
Learn a robust method via which you will be able to learn even more languages in the future (because you know how good it is; that the time you need is quantifiable; that success is quickly visible, etc.)

As progress in language learning is a direct function of time, be prepared to dedicate at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. E2M will help you keep your motivation high.
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Re: Did the Listening-Reading method work for you?

Postby RyanSmallwood » Thu Sep 23, 2021 11:23 am

I'm still really confused by a lot of the distinctions you're using between method and guesswork. As for what's the difference between this and just re-reading with audio, well obviously the goal is re-reading with audio, the difference is Step 3 L2 Audio L1 Text. I've tried skipping this step a lot when I was starting out, just listening a familiar story and absorbing the language sounds nice, but obviously my level was too low so I didn't get far. With a translation I learn a lot more and can see progress, which is a lot more helpful and encouraging. I actually don't think the translation accuracy is a big deal as long as you avoid some big pitfalls like translations from different editions, abridgements, or non-literal translations of poetry, 90% of the translations I pick are much more helpful than not having a translation. Sometimes an author won't translate something literally, and it will go over my head, but then I can pick up the vocabulary in other contexts and then I start to notice when an translation is substituting a different expression that could be used in a similar context. So these are fun little tests that show me my understanding is progressing. A translation doesn't need to explain everything perfectly immediately to have use, as long as you can figure out some things, then it becomes easier to keep figuring out more.

Again not sure what magical criteria you're looking for, its just a helpful way to learn from books that are above your level as a beginner. I mean in language learning there are a lot of things we’d understand better if they were more rigorously tested, but for a lot of things learners just stick with what they find useful even if they’re only partially clear about all the factors involved. You can use it if you find it helpful, motivating, and enjoyable to learn with books as opposed to whatever other kinds of content/methods.
Last edited by RyanSmallwood on Thu Sep 23, 2021 12:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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