LIE to a Polyglot

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issemiyaki
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Re: LIE to a Polyglot

Postby issemiyaki » Sun Dec 18, 2016 5:40 pm

IronMike wrote:One must not discount the visual when it comes to listening. What's the stat? Communication is 80% visual? All I know is when I do my speaking test over the phone, w/o being able to see my tester, I routinely score a 1/2 point (2 vice 2+) than I do when I can see my tester, all other things being equal.

I understand my crazy Russian show Ревизорро much better when I can see what Elena Letuchaya is doing on the screen. (I've tested this by closing my eyes during some of the show.).


Glad you pointed this out.

I can't tell you how many times I have been able to figure things out thanks to the fact that I could SEE what was happening. However, I would not neglect pure listening. Such as radio. (Sometimes people say things that require you to look, such as: "This object HERE has been a source of inspiration.") But, in general, pure listening really puts your listening skills to the test. Even if you're speaking with a live person, he/she will most often be talking about something that happened in the past, or something hypothetical, all things you can't see. People don't walk around with a television to illustrate everything they're saying.

Also, with television, you can sort of fake it. Meaning, you can see the images and sort of guess what's going on. Some see the images and get distracted. Others get a vague idea of what's going on and convince themselves that they have understood. But if you ask them to repeat what was said, or explain the specifics of the plot, they are at a loss for words.

So, I get that pure listening is more challenging, but I'm also finding that it's where I'm seeing the most satisfying gains. Also, for me at least, there's a sense of accomplishment knowing that you put an idea together on your own, without any help from images.

This is also a skill that must be develop, particularly if you have to speak with people over the phone.
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Re: LIE to a Polyglot

Postby Ani » Sun Dec 18, 2016 7:53 pm

issemiyaki wrote:I can't tell you how many times I have been able to figure things out thanks to the fact that I could SEE what was happening. However, I would not neglect pure listening. Such as radio. (Sometimes people say things that require you to look, such as: "This object HERE has been a source of inspiration.") But, in general, pure listening really puts your listening skills to the test. Even if you're speaking with a live person, he/she will most often be talking about something that happened in the past, or something hypothetical, all things you can't see. People don't walk around with a television to illustrate everything they're saying.


The visual aids to listening while watching aren't only about judging the topic and items in discussion. The eye monitors the movement of the mouth to help listening comprehension and even phonemic discrimination. I have no idea how much benefit is gained by people with high auditory processing skills, but the 20-30% of people with genetically weak auditory processing (bottom of the bell curve) are missing a massive amount of learning opportunity by listening without watching the mouth move. I am assuming this is also what IronMike is referring to with testing over the phone because surely his DLI testers are not holding up objects :)

Even in my native tongue I routinely need people to look at me to be able to understand them so just listening in order to build some magical language parsing ability is not going to happen for me. I listened to the same song on repeat in my car every year for 6 weeks (a holiday song) and after 4 years I finally decided to look at sheet music for it because I couldn't memorize the fist -stanza- in all that time. (Native language song, trying to memorize words and chant). Not everyone is an auditory learner, and while strong auditory learners feel everyone should acquire auditory skills purely by doing, there are other methods that can tie in to build those strengths. It is much faster to play to your own learning strengths.
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Re: LIE to a Polyglot

Postby Finny » Sun Dec 18, 2016 9:00 pm

I recently wrote in a different thread that I needed to spend more time just purely listening (radio) rather than listening and watching (TV). I did this (and continue to do it) a lot with Spanish; the only TV I watched while learning were soap operas. I watched a lot of them, and I learned a lot from them, but while learning French, I think I forgot about how important pure listening was for me. I feel my brain tunes in when listening in a different way from when watching. To put it more precisely, I glean more overall information when watching, but my verbal skills develop more deeply with listening because I have to rely and focus more on that one sense.

So I think for me, the most efficient learning centers around pure reading (i.e., a fiction book), pure listening (the radio), and listen/watching (a series). I've shifted from watching whatever's on on the channels I choose to using the Internet (e.g., YouTube) to follow specific series I've discovered I like (e.g., Les carnets de Julie), which is what I did with Spanish. I don't think anything I did since I started learning French this summer was harmful, but just as switching from watching only the news to watching more "normal" channels was a big and helpful shift for me a month or two ago, I think shifting away from general TV to following specific series and reducing TV time and adding radio time will also help turbocharge things for me.

As Ani noted, it's all about playing to your strengths.
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Re: LIE to a Polyglot

Postby leosmith » Tue Dec 20, 2016 12:50 am

Finny wrote:To put it more precisely, I glean more overall information when watching, but my verbal skills develop more deeply with listening because I have to rely and focus more on that one sense.
I agree, and that's why I do both. Sometimes I do classes without video too. I don't want to run into a situation down the road where I have a hard time making a phone call, can't understand an announcement over a loudspeaker, etc.
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Re: LIE to a Polyglot

Postby Cainntear » Tue Dec 20, 2016 11:04 am

leosmith wrote:It seems every time I have an epiphany moment, I end up reading an article or study that supports what I thought I had “discovered”. It can be a little annoying, but I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’ll probably never discover anything new in the world of language learning.

I reckon you're looking at that the wrong way.
You, as an independent amateur, continue to come to the same conclusions that people who dedicate their lives to studying the field have drawn. Instead of feeling annoyed you're not first, why not simply feel proud that you're right?

But if you do really want to find something new, then just keep going, keep reading about the ideas you have and the ideas other people have had, and when you find the boundaries of current knowledge, push past one, and see what's on the other side.

Or content yourself with simply exploring. I've always loved exploring the woods around the village I grew up in, even the whole area was extensively mapped before I was born. I'm not discovering anything no-one has seen before, but it's still exploring, and even all these years later, it's still fun.
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Re: LIE to a Polyglot

Postby reineke » Sat Feb 11, 2017 4:14 pm

leosmith wrote:This is me trying to explain my latest epiphany to you.

The last time I made the effort to write out my learning method, I called it synergy. In addition to using the method myself, I wanted to draw attention to the fact that all language skills reinforced each other, and that practicing them concurrently is very beneficial.

While I still believe strongly in synergy, a few years ago I began to think I was missing something major. My pondering started as a general disappointment with how slowly we acquire listening. Then I started thinking about input - reading and listening. It seemed to me that the true source of input was listening, not reading. Reading hasn’t been around nearly as long, and isn’t even needed to learn how to speak. ...that’s when and why it hit me – Listening Is Everything to a polyglot. Every other thing I do, I do it for the main purpose of propping up my listening, or at least that’s the way I should look at it. Listening really is, in my mind, the origin of everything, and by knowing this fundamental truth we should be able to reap some benefit. So I started to look for a way to do that.

I haven’t made much progress yet, but my goal is to create a language learning method that places importance on/draws attention to this truth. I call it LIE. I’m still going to use synergy, but I want lie to be primary. Why am I interested in doing this? First of all, just like with synergy, I feel that the importance of listening is underplayed, ignored or unknown by a great deal of language learners...

Here is my prescription for becoming a good listener:

1) First, listen a lot. It takes 1500-2000 hours of listening for your brain to acquire the ability to parse a foreign language at normal speeds (source). You can understand a language to varying degrees with less listening, but the time on task listed above is required to become a good listener.
2) Although a lot of pure listening is required to become a good listener, doing nothing but listening not very inefficient. This is because in addition to parsing, you have to be able to understand thousands of words and grammar. The following is a sample of things you can do, other than pure listening, to support the acquisition of listening.
a) Read. Reading the transcript for the material you are listening to is ideal, but any reading is beneficial to listening because it improves your grammar and vocabulary. Reading also gives you a visual memory of words, which helps your recall.
b) Write. Like reading, writing familiarizes you with vocabulary and grammar, which in turn helps your listening.
c) Speak. Speaking familiarizes you with vocabulary and grammar, which in turn helps your listening. When you speak you hear your own voice, which is listening practice, and one of the many reasons why reading out loud is a good skill to practice.

I decided to end the list here because not only does it show some ways to become a good listener, but also the study of these three skills, and therefore the learning of the entire language, can be considered to be in support of listening.
It seems every time I have an epiphany moment, I end up reading an article or study that supports what I thought I had “discovered”. It can be a little annoying, but I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’ll probably never discover anything new in the world of language learning. Anyway, rdearman posted a link to this study, so I’ll close by including some key excerpts.

[b]Listening Skill Requires a Further Look into


Let me pat myself on the back for your epiphany and for pointing forumers to this and other studies about listening comprehension. I have been urging people to listen more and "from the beginning" on HTLAL since April 1st, 2007.

My personal view is that if you want to develop listening comprehension you need to...listen and that complementary activities should be implemented judiciously. You can push your skill to the point you're able to pick up new grammar and vocabulary through listening. You may discover that all of a sudden words and structures stick, and that you're making fast progress.

The 1500-2000 hours of listening you mention is not a conclusion of any particular study but one person's personal experience. My experience is different. I think that personal anecdotes can be valuable, however. There are many factors involved that determine how quickly learners develop listening comprehension and I have provided a number of resources here for learners to gain some insight into this issue.

If you do some research, you may also discover that active approach towards mastery of L2 phonology plays an important role in developing listening and speaking skills and that early exposure to written language and random speaking exercises may prove detrimental. I think that most learners go overweight on written sources and listening is at best a weak complementary activity. Phonology is optional or an afterthought.

leosmith wrote:
reineke wrote:Listening Skill Requires a Further Look into Second/Foreign Language Learning
...
http://www.hindawi.com/journals/isrn/2012/810129/

Thank you very much for posting that. I’ve been hearing it forever, but this is the first real study I’ve seen. And this is the first time I’ve seen actual ratios!

Finally, I don't want to discourage you from developing your own method. Please do and share it with us.
Last edited by reineke on Sun Feb 19, 2017 11:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: LIE to a Polyglot

Postby blaurebell » Sat Feb 11, 2017 6:53 pm

I do a ton of listening myself and it has always made a big difference. The way I do it is by watching and re-watching series while cooking or eating. I have watched this way all 22 seasons of Stargate in Spanish dubs, a few other series and gazillions of movies. Just hearing the language all the time is a huge help and this explains why after months of hardly speaking any Spanish I can still hold conversations without struggling too much. It's insanely good for language maintenance. Normally I pay more attention to the frying pan than to the screen and it's usually loud, so a lot of the time it's listening with lots of noise, with a quick glance if it's getting too visual. In language classes I was by far the best at the listening comprehension tasks, because I could still understand stuff with heavy background noise or with strange accents thanks to this "listening under less than ideal circumstances" approach.

The only problem I see with it is the limited scope of dialogue in series and movies. If you only watch series and movies for maintenance or improvement, your literary vocabulary will atrophy or not develop. I may have had tons of listening input in Spanish, but my literary vocabulary is rather undeveloped. I can't listen to audiobooks, because I miss half of the descriptive language, definitely something I have to work on. That said, I do understand everything I could possibly hear in everyday conversations, in large part because I've watched / listened to so much TV.

In French I've gone the reading route first and after a Super Challenge worth of reading I can listen to audiobooks just fine. I feel like my understanding has more precision in comparison to my Spanish, because I'm also a fairly visual person. So, I really wouldn't underestimate the importance of reading. This was actually something I always disliked about school, it was so listening heavy, while I'm really not that good at retaining information I just heard. I have an easier time picking up things via visual means and a lot of people are like me in that respect. So, I can't hope to learn new vocabulary just by listening. However, it's still super important to listen a lot to really get used to different accents and to the grammatical structures used in context. If you want to actually have conversations in a language, then listening and watching TV is really the best you can do if you don't have any language partners available all the time.

I'm still continuing with more of my dubbed series approach in French and have already about 200h of French listening input behind me with that approach. I rarely miss a sentence now, so I think the 2000h are maybe a little of an overestimation. I think about 500h should be a good start for a solid C1 understanding, as long as it is done when you already have enough vocabulary to understand most of what you hear and you make sure to cover the accents evenly.

Currently my plan for any new language is: Assmil + Duolingo, 5000 pages reading, 500h of listening starting with 200h of dubbed series, continuing with native series and movies + audiobooks once the reading part is done. If I want to use the language actively I also do the Duolingo reverse tree to get me started instead of torturing any native speakers with my uhms and ahs while I'm hunting for words.
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Re: LIE to a Polyglot

Postby Seneca » Sun Feb 12, 2017 8:30 pm

Leosmith, do you have an example of how you'd implement studying in this manner? Say it is in a romance/Germanic language so we can set aside learning a new alphabet. What would a LIE-focused study pattern look like?

Something like the following is what came to mind when reading your post:

Listen to your Assimil/Linguaphone/Podcast/Whatever through 10 times before looking at the text at all.

Listen while reading along silently 7 times.

Listen and pause after each sentence. Then write each one out while saying it out loud. Do this 3 times.

Read along out loud with the recording 5 times.

By the time you did that you will have:
Listened 25 times
Read 15 times
Spoken 5 times
Written 3 times

Would you fiddle with those ratios, or am I not on the right track? I think maybe I am missing something because your opening post seems to say Listening is Everything but then that the prescription is still synergy because, to become a good listener, one must practice all of the four skills (listen, read, write, speak)? It seems a bit circular, so that is why I was thinking maybe a concrete example of what you had in mind would be useful for me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
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Re: LIE to a Polyglot

Postby emk » Sun Feb 12, 2017 10:59 pm

leosmith wrote:Anyway, that’s when and why it hit me – Listening Is Everything to a polyglot. Every other thing I do, I do it for the main purpose of propping up my listening, or at least that’s the way I should look at it. Listening really is, in my mind, the origin of everything, and by knowing this fundamental truth we should be able to reap some benefit.

I strongly agree with this idea! When I felt like trolling a bit in my log (not that I would ever do such a thing!), I would post things like, "Language learning doesn't really start until you can watch TV in your target language for fun." Reading is wonderful; reading is great. But in the end, listening comprehension is central, because it's the only way to get vast quantities of interesting input in the informal register, and because you can't carry on a conversation with somebody until you have halfway decent listening skills.

leosmith wrote:1) First, listen a lot. It takes 1500-2000 hours of listening for your brain to acquire the ability to parse a foreign language at normal speeds (source). You can understand a language to varying degrees with less listening, but the time on task listed above is required to become a good listener.

There's actually a trick to learning how to process (limited!) full speed input in several dozen hours instead of a couple thousand. I first heard about this in the context of the Koch method for teaching Morse code:

Traditionally, Morse code has been taught by struggling through all the codes at a slow speed and then (slowly) progressing towards higher speeds.

Koch's method, on the other hand, dictates that you should start learning at the desired speed - but you start with only two characters. Each session is five minutes long, and whenever you get 90% or more correct, you add another character.

The basic idea is that if you start with very slow audio, you'll train yourself to laboriously "look things up" in your head and translate them, and—in the case of Morse code—you'll have an extraordinarily difficult time breaking the 15wpm barrier. So instead, you start with full-speed input from the very beginning, but you start with extremely limited input. So instead of starting slow and getting faster, you start fast-but-narrow input and then widen the subject areas you cover. In practice, this seems to produce people who can understand 25 wpm to 30 wpm input in several months, which compares extremely favorably to traditional methods.

That was one of my goals with all that subs2srs/substudy experiment I did: I wanted to find a way to work with full-speed audio very early. And the result was that my Spanish was ridiculously narrow, but as long as I stuck with one TV series, I had maybe 40% comprehension of previously unwatched episodes within 100 hours of study since beginning the language.

And then life happened, and I had to put my Spanish down. On the bright side, full-speed listening seems to decay much more slowly than formal grammar study and vocab lists.
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Re: LIE to a Polyglot

Postby reineke » Mon Feb 13, 2017 1:02 am

Ani wrote:
issemiyaki wrote:I can't tell you how many times I have been able to figure things out thanks to the fact that I could SEE what was happening. However, I would not neglect pure listening. Such as radio. (Sometimes people say things that require you to look, such as: "This object HERE has been a source of inspiration.") But, in general, pure listening really puts your listening skills to the test. Even if you're speaking with a live person, he/she will most often be talking about something that happened in the past, or something hypothetical, all things you can't see. People don't walk around with a television to illustrate everything they're saying.


The visual aids to listening while watching aren't only about judging the topic and items in discussion. The eye monitors the movement of the mouth to help listening comprehension and even phonemic discrimination. I have no idea how much benefit is gained by people with high auditory processing skills, but the 20-30% of people with genetically weak auditory processing (bottom of the bell curve) are missing a massive amount of learning opportunity by listening without watching the mouth move. I am assuming this is also what IronMike is referring to with testing over the phone because surely his DLI testers are not holding up objects :)

Even in my native tongue I routinely need people to look at me to be able to understand them so just listening in order to build some magical language parsing ability is not going to happen for me. I listened to the same song on repeat in my car every year for 6 weeks (a holiday song) and after 4 years I finally decided to look at sheet music for it because I couldn't memorize the fist -stanza- in all that time. (Native language song, trying to memorize words and chant). Not everyone is an auditory learner, and while strong auditory learners feel everyone should acquire auditory skills purely by doing, there are other methods that can tie in to build those strengths. It is much faster to play to your own learning strengths.


I don't wish to invalidate your other points, but I believe that the majority of auditory learners, should such a class of learners exist, would complain that listening to a foreign language is hard and rely heavily on written sources. This is nothing new:

"Language teachers know that the wide use of tapes, recorded by native speakers, does help the pronunciation of the student who learns a foreign language in a classroom situation; however students tend to resist the use of tapes and resort to reading to prepare class assignments, even when admitting that the contacts with the spoken language are helpful..."

1977

http://www.jstor.org/stable/340399

People with actual processing deficiencies should listen more. Unfortunately a lot of mouth movement information is unusable.Repeating something over and over is certainly a listening strategy but so is listening to a variety of content.
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