How efficient are TV shows for improving listening comprehension?

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AlexTG
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Re: How efficient are TV shows for improving listening comprehension?

Postby AlexTG » Tue Apr 26, 2016 10:17 pm

Any time you convert a native language activity into a foreign language activity you get 100% efficiency. If you usually watch 5 hours of TV a week in your native language and you convert to watching 5 hours a week in your target language, your're investing 0 extra hours of your life per week but gaining 5 hours per week of practice. Free lunch, nom nom.
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Cavesa
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Re: How efficient are TV shows for improving listening comprehension?

Postby Cavesa » Tue Apr 26, 2016 11:03 pm

reineke wrote:TV series can be shorter or longer than audiobooks. Some great TV series are fairly short. Shogun, the audiobook, is 48 hours and 26 minutes long. The TV series is less than ten hours long. I have no problem getting used to either medium regardless of length. Difficulty levels will vary from episode to episode and more so for some TV series than others. Vocabulary size required to watch movies and TV is smaller than what is required for most adult books yet a lot of advanced language learners are unable to follow TV programs comfortably. Native speakers have a superior ability at deciphering language through background noise so watching TV is a good exercise in that regard. Consuming 100 episodes or 20 - 45 hours of language material will make a dent but I would disagree that anyone will achieve "solid listening skills" after some 30 hours of listening. If you're watching TV the only visual trap is the L1 subtitle. In order to match a particular image in the video stream to its meaning you also need to listen intently. You can't "rely on the image" without listening. Few interactions with native speakers are done with closed eyes :D


You're right about the huge differences among the various audiobooks. However one disadvantage stays: they are slow and extremely clear and stardard speech. Awesome at some point but a totally different beast than normal conversations. Yes, they include much more vocabulary, but as you said, there are many proficient second language readers who cannot follow a conversation or tv series, it is not about that.

I was counting more towards the 45 than the twenty hours and it is enough to give you quite solid skills in a language related to one you already know, I am trully not guessing about Finnish or Korean. I am now between 31 and 32 hours of Italian tv series, other listening practice have been course audio, songs. Yes, I've got a huge bonus from other languages, but it is still a new one and it is more similar to Spanish and French in the writen form than the oral one. And after such a short time, I can understand unexpectedly well stardard Italian in dubbed tv series, I am right now listening to an interview in news for the first time and can understand everything without efforts. I understood quite well native speakers in Italy (but far from everything at that point), depending on dialect, accent, background, speed, after approximately 20 hours of tv series. Of course, I get lost in different accents and dialects, I am far from perfection and C levels, there are tons of things I won't understand, should I grab a series like Gomorra (I'd say that one will be my long term goal, I am getting scared of it, having read some reviews). It is too early to expect any speaking improvement based on the listening practice. But I'd say this already is quite a solid listening level to build on. Of course 30 hours would be just a dent in a language I don't know two related to. Of course, if you mean C1 or C2 level as solid skills, than I am definitely not there and don't dare to guess where exactly on the scale I am. But should we agree that complete news comprehension and very good dubbed series comprehension are more than just a tiny dent, why couldn't most learners of langauges quite close to their own make similar progress in 45 hours?

I am not generalizing, not saying the timeline and learning curve are always that easy. I am just pointing out that improving one's listening comprehension with tvseries can, in some language combinations, be a much faster process than expected, not a matter of many years of frustration.

AlexTG, I love your efficiency definition :-)
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Re: How efficient are TV shows for improving listening comprehension?

Postby reineke » Wed Apr 27, 2016 12:17 am

Cavesa wrote:
You're right about the huge differences among the various audiobooks. However one disadvantage stays: they are slow and extremely clear and stardard speech. Awesome at some point but a totally different beast than normal conversations. Yes, they include much more vocabulary, but as you said, there are many proficient second language readers who cannot follow a conversation or tv series, it is not about that.

I was counting more towards the 45 than the twenty hours and it is enough to give you quite solid skills in a language related to one you already know, I am truly not guessing about Finnish or Korean. I am now between 31 and 32 hours of Italian tv series, other listening practice have been course audio, songs. Yes, I've got a huge bonus from other languages, but it is still a new one and it is more similar to Spanish and French in the written form than the oral one. And after such a short time, I can understand unexpectedly well standard Italian in dubbed tv series, I am right now listening to an interview in news for the first time and can understand everything without efforts. I understood quite well native speakers in Italy (but far from everything at that point), depending on dialect, accent, background, speed, after approximately 20 hours of tv series. Of course, I get lost in different accents and dialects, I am far from perfection and C levels, there are tons of things I won't understand, should I grab a series like Gomorra (I'd say that one will be my long term goal, I am getting scared of it, having read some reviews). It is too early to expect any speaking improvement based on the listening practice. But I'd say this already is quite a solid listening level to build on. Of course 30 hours would be just a dent in a language I don't know two related to. Of course, if you mean C1 or C2 level as solid skills, than I am definitely not there and don't dare to guess where exactly on the scale I am. But should we agree that complete news comprehension and very good dubbed series comprehension are more than just a tiny dent, why couldn't most learners of languages quite close to their own make similar progress in 45 hours?

I am not generalizing, not saying the timeline and learning curve are always that easy. I am just pointing out that improving one's listening comprehension with tv series can, in some language combinations, be a much faster process than expected, not a matter of many years of frustration.

AlexTG, I love your efficiency definition :-)


Each time you convert a useless L1 activity into something fun and useful you are ahead and each time you revisit an old flame you are finding lost time. Audiobooks are read at a constant rate and word for word they will cover more words than your average DVD/TV watching activity. However, you will miss out on quick dialogue exchanges which are read out at high speeds and on a huge variety of dialogues that are hardly ever present in audio books. The elation of breaking through the opaqueness of a semi-transparent language can make one think that greater progress has been made than is actually the case. Congratulations on your breakthrough with Italian, by the way. I don't want to take away from it but French and Spanish are a powerful combination for understanding Italian. I can tell you that I have *always* been able to follow the gist of Spanish programming thanks to Italian and French. I got C1 on the Spanish placement test with no previous study other than having listened through an audio course a few years ago. This does not change my belief that learning Spanish won't be easy.
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Re: How efficient are TV shows for improving listening comprehension?

Postby Cavesa » Wed Apr 27, 2016 12:42 am

reineke wrote:Each time you convert a useless L1 activity into something fun and useful you are ahead and each time you revisit an old flame you are finding lost time. Audiobooks are read at a constant rate and word for word they will cover more words than your average DVD/TV watching activity. However, you will miss out on quick dialogue exchanges which are read out at high speeds and on a huge variety of dialogues that are hardly ever present in audio books. The elation of breaking through the opaqueness of a semi-transparent language can make one think that greater progress has been made than is actually the case. Congratulations on your breakthrough with Italian, by the way. I don't want to take away from it but French and Spanish are a powerful combination for understanding Italian. I can tell you that I have *always* been able to follow the gist of Spanish programming thanks to Italian and French. I got C1 on the Spanish placement test with no previous study other than having listened through an audio course a few years ago. This does not change my belief that learning Spanish won't be easy.


Thanks, but I know it is powerful combination. That's why I mention it just as an example and I'd quite expect any romance language native learning another romance language to progress just as well or better in such an amount of time. It sounds like just one language combination out of many, but it is actually one of the most common language combinations on this forum or in Europe. A romance native, apart from English, is very likely to choose another romance language. A non romance native, who has learnt one romance language, is quite likely to choose another romance language as an L3. So I wasn't trying to boast or to assume a larger progress than really happened. I was trying to illustrate that many learners could improve so much in so little time. No need to spend years frustrated "I don't understand enough, this is a waste of time" at all.

But if leave the specific cases like this and get back to the originally mentioned amount, we might get to some reasonable estimates of the effects of one SC, which nowadays equals to 9000 minutes (150 hours). I would say those 150 hours over the course of 20 months (or less, depending on the participant) certainly suffice for learners of not too distant and hard languages to get to a solid level of listening skill. Perhaps we could do a survey among the SC participants? We might already get some nice data from the last round. And we could make a preSC15/16 and postSC15/16 surveys. Would anyone be willing to participate?
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Re: How efficient are TV shows for improving listening comprehension?

Postby lusan » Wed Apr 27, 2016 12:54 am

reineke wrote:
Cavesa wrote:This does not change my belief that learning Spanish won't be easy.


I just wonder about how easy is really learning Spanish. Last night, my wife and I were talking to my mother and I refer to my brother as my mother's "bebo." My wife, who speaks fluently English, Spanish, German and Polish thought that she understood. She was completely wrong. After the phone call, I explained her the subtle difference in meaning for a dominican between "bebo" and "baby" and, what is even crazier, "baby" is an English word. I am beginning to think that to become native is really really, ok let me say again, really hard. :!:
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Re: How efficient are TV shows for improving listening comprehension?

Postby reineke » Wed Apr 27, 2016 1:08 am

Cavesa wrote:
But if leave the specific cases like this and get back to the originally mentioned amount, we might get to some reasonable estimates of the effects of one SC, which nowadays equals to 9000 minutes (150 hours). I would say those 150 hours over the course of 20 months (or less, depending on the participant) certainly suffice for learners of not too distant and hard languages to get to a solid level of listening skill. Perhaps we could do a survey among the SC participants? We might already get some nice data from the last round. And we could make a preSC15/16 and postSC15/16 surveys. Would anyone be willing to participate?


At the beginning of the last 6WC I had trouble following European Spanish. I remember one movie and one scene in particular that was especially problematic. After the challenge the movie was much easier to follow. When I re-watched the cabin scene and there was only one sentence I couldn't catch. Turning L2 subtitles helped me determine that I knew all the words except one (from the entire scene) already prior to the 6WC and that all the comprehension trouble was due to the rapid rate of speech and the peculiarities of Spanish pronunciation. A good idea for anyone participating in this challenge who's at advanced beginner/lower intermediate level would be to choose a few problematic scenes/episodes/passages, write down their observations and then re-watch them after 6 weeks. Take a look at emk's log for a detailed description of his progress with a TV show.
Last edited by reineke on Sun Jul 10, 2016 4:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: How efficient are TV shows for improving listening comprehension?

Postby Cavesa » Wed Apr 27, 2016 1:10 am

I never said or thought learning Spanish to a native like level overall would be easy. It would be really hard, near impossible without dozens of years in the country. Just we are speaking about listening comprehension. And getting to really high level of listening comprehension through tv series (or combination of tv series and other input, even though the original question is just about tv series) is definitely possible and not that hard. You definitely can get to C2 level comprehension, if you put in enough time and efforts. And C2, despite not being the native level of course, is a goal damn worth striving for. And as the OP states his goals involves movies and tv series + native speakers compehension without trouble, they can attain it with listening to tv series. Of course there will always be some gaps here and there, especially in very colloquial speech. But I don't think any other method, than spending tons of time listening to gradually more difficult input, can get you significantly further to a native level. Certainly not the popular classroom method, dissecting a few tiny bits of audio here and there with multiple choice test being the main outcome, certainly not staying within one's comfort zone all the time.
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Re: How efficient are TV shows for improving listening comprehension?

Postby Cavesa » Wed Apr 27, 2016 1:16 am

reineke wrote:
Cavesa wrote:
But if leave the specific cases like this and get back to the originally mentioned amount, we might get to some reasonable estimates of the effects of one SC, which nowadays equals to 9000 minutes (150 hours). I would say those 150 hours over the course of 20 months (or less, depending on the participant) certainly suffice for learners of not too distant and hard languages to get to a solid level of listening skill. Perhaps we could do a survey among the SC participants? We might already get some nice data from the last round. And we could make a preSC15/16 and postSC15/16 surveys. Would anyone be willing to participate?


At the beginning of the last 6WC I had trouble following European Spanish. I remember one movie and one scene in particular that was especially problematic. After the challenge the movie was much easier to follow. When I re-watched the cabin scene and there was only one sentence I couldn't catch. Turning L1 subtitles helped me determine that I knew all the words except one (from the entire scene) already prior to the 6WC and that all the comprehension trouble was due to the rapid rate of speech and pronunciation. A good idea for anyone participating in this challenge who's at advanced beginner/lower intermediate level would be to choose a few problematic scenes/episodes/passages, write down their observations and then re-watch them after 6 weeks. Take a look at emk's log for a detailed description of his progress with a TV show.


Yes, emk's log is an awesome example. Very detailed progress report. And he is another of the second romance language learners, reaping the fruits of having known French. But I don't think 6wc has much to do with this, not all the learners spend their 6wc on input and the Super Challenge. Therefore testing listening comprehension may not make much sense for some. I really loved Radioclare's overview of the Super Challenge-Croatian. She described her progress quite in detail. However, despite spending lots of time reading logs, I don't think we've got that many SC stories there, compared to the amount of participants.
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Re: How efficient are TV shows for improving listening comprehension?

Postby NoManches » Wed Apr 27, 2016 1:30 am

I'm glad I posted this because there is a ton of excellent information here! I will definitely bookmark this and come back and read everything over again just to make sure I'm not missing any valuable advice.

I came home from work and started to watch the dubbed version of "Master of None" on Netflix. I have already seen the 1st season in my native language, although it was a few months ago. I'll say this: I am understanding about 90-95% of everything said and it is super motivating! I understand a few things: 1) It is not native content. 2) The speech is very clear. 3) It is much easier to comprehend compared to a show made for native speakers.

As I watch, I keep saying: This is too easy. I need to push myself...I need to "throw myself in the deep end". But, it reminds me of emk's consolidation theory which he was kind enough to repost for me earlier today:

viewtopic.php?t=723#p1119


I always forget that I'm not limited to only one resource or method (which others have told me before). So, I will continue to watch some native materials but for fun, extensive listening, and just overall relaxation I will also watch a few dubbed shows each week. Hopefully the dubbed material let's me "consolidate" material as user emk said.
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Re: How efficient are TV shows for improving listening comprehension?

Postby reineke » Wed Apr 27, 2016 2:05 am

Repetitio est mater studiorum. I keep running into long chunks of text and audio that I understand perfectly but that I would not be able to recall or paraphrase to save my life. Repetition and careful language production should take care of that.
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