Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

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reineke
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Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

Postby reineke » Sun Apr 16, 2017 6:16 pm

I wanted to share this introduction to John Field’s five-phases listening comprehension model. As I've mentioned before, I find it sufficient to "just listen". If anyone has any other ideas about this subject, I'm all ears.

Why we have been teaching listening skills wrongly for decades
(excerpts)

"Listening is by far the most important skill-set, especially if we are preparing our students for the real world, where 45 % of communication occurs through the aural medium and only 25 % through reading and writing. Moreover, the human brain is naturally wired to acquire languages through listening,...

Why traditional listening instruction is ineffective

The main reason why many students fail at listening is that MFL teachers do not actually teach aural skills. In fact, as I found out through several surveys I conducted over the years, although MFL teachers claim to be teaching listening skills, when asked to make a list of the aural skills they impart in their lessons they are unable to provide an answer. Difficult to teach what you do not fully understand.

I, myself, started to understand listening very late in my career, after coming across work by Richards and Field a few years back. Up until then, like many other colleagues, I had been teaching listening by playing an audio-track and quizzing students on its content...

In my opinion, the best and most teacher-friendly skill-based account of listening comprehension to-date was provided by Field (2014), who identifies the following skill-set as crucial to the effective processing of aural input:

A decoding phase - input is ‘translated’ into the sounds of the language

A lexical search phase - in which the listener searches his brain (long-term memory) for words which match or nearly match these sounds.

A parsing phase - in which he must recognise a grammar pattern in a string of words and fit a word to the linguistic context surrounding it

A meaning-building phase - in which, having ‘broken’ the speech flow, identified the words he heard and how they fit grammatically in the sentence he finally makes sense of it

A discourse-construction phase - in which the understanding of each unit of meaning (e.g. sentence) is connected to the larger context of the narrative. In this phase, one’s background knowledge will help enhance comprehension.

Field’s account provides MFL teachers with a useful reference framework for curriculum design, as it suggests the direction that listening instruction should take.

MFL teachers need to reconsider the way they teach listening. First of all, they need to drastically increase the students’ exposure to aural input, whether to L.A.M tasks or oral-interaction tasks. Secondly, they need to teach decoding skills extensively from the very early stages of instruction. Thirdly, they must teach vocabulary aurally, as much as possible, in high-frequency chunks, rather than in isolated words as they often appear in word lists.

Finally, and more importantly, we must train our students in grammatical-pattern recognition and analysis through the aural medium, not only to facilitate the development or listening skills, but, more importantly because pattern-recognition promotes acquisition."

https://www.tes.com/news/blog/why-we-ha ... ly-decades
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Re: Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

Postby reineke » Sun Apr 16, 2017 6:56 pm

This was open in my browser. Sufficient reason to share? I like the little nuggets of information I gather from these studies.


The nature of the language input affects brain activation during learning from a natural language

Abstract

Artificial language studies have demonstrated that learners are able to segment individual word-like units from running speech using the transitional probability information. However, this skill has rarely been examined in the context of natural languages, where stimulus parameters can be quite different. In this study, two groups of English-speaking learners were exposed to Norwegian sentences over the course of three fMRI scans. One group was provided with input in which transitional probabilities predicted the presence of target words in the sentences. This group quickly learned to identify the target words and fMRI data revealed an extensive and highly dynamic learning network. These results were markedly different from activation seen for a second group of participants. This group was provided with highly similar input that was modified so that word learning based on syllable co-occurrences was not possible. These participants showed a much more restricted network. The results demonstrate that the nature of the input strongly influenced the nature of the network that learners employ to learn the properties of words in a natural language.

Introduction

When a language is unfamiliar to a listener, it is often not obvious initially where one word ends and another begins in continuous speech. Only a small percentage of words are uttered in isolation (about 9% based on reports by Brent & Siskind, [2001] and Fernald & Morikawa, [1993]). More typically, multiple words are heard as a nearly continuous speech stream. The ability to detect individual words in running speech is a fundamental early requirement for language acquisition.

In the last two decades, experimental studies grounded in learning theory have suggest that the ability to segment words in running speech is a product of a more general tendency of listeners to track regularities (Gómez, 2006; Newport & Aslin, 2004; Saffran, 2003). In particular, a statistical learning framework proposes that learners track distributional information in their environment and use that information to extract structure and principles about the sensory input they receive. This learning is considered unguided, in that it is not necessary to focus learners on particular aspects of the input and learning occurs in the absence of overt feedback. This tendency to attend to distributional information is not limited to language input, but is general to many types of stimuli including visual symbol sequences...

Discussion

Consistent with the idea that learning based on the presence of statistical relations in the input results in rapid, unguided learning (Gómez, 2006; Newport & Aslin, 2004; Saffran, 2003), participants who received input with strong statistical cues to word units learned the Target words after relatively little exposure to Norwegian sentences. Somewhat surprisingly, participants who were given input that lacked strong statistical cues also learned to differentiate between real and pseudo-words, although the time needed was three times as long....

The Norwegian words used as input in the present study occurred at a much lower frequencies than is typical of the analogous artificial language studies. Furthermore, our American learners encountered Norwegian phonemes that were foreign to them...

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articl ... po=2.50000
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Re: Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

Postby Ani » Sun Apr 16, 2017 9:30 pm

reineke wrote:A decoding phase - input is ‘translated’ into the sounds of the language

A lexical search phase - in which the listener searches his brain (long-term memory) for words which match or nearly match these sounds.

A parsing phase - in which he must recognise a grammar pattern in a string of words and fit a word to the linguistic context surrounding it

A meaning-building phase - in which, having ‘broken’ the speech flow, identified the words he heard and how they fit grammatically in the sentence he finally makes sense of it

A discourse-construction phase - in which the understanding of each unit of meaning (e.g. sentence) is connected to the larger context of the narrative. In this phase, one’s background knowledge will help enhance comprehension.



The problem as I see it, with a list like this is that most of these aspects are handled in the brain exactly like in the native language. You really don't have to teach through a "lexical search phase" because that is what people do when they pay attention and try to figure something out. The "decoding phase" however, could use an enormous amount of work and teaching as phonemes, accenting and rhythms may be all new and difficult to hear. I think it might be more productive to identify the areas we can actually teach and which ones need to be acquired by "just listening". I don't have an answer but I am becoming a big fan of early, thorough, explicit instruction in phonology... And then cartoons.

I'd love to hear if there are other ideas out there on which aspects of listening can actively be taught to speed up the rate of skill acquisition. It seems so often like "listening drills" are simply quizzes, not actually skill building tasks.
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Re: Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

Postby DaveBee » Sun Apr 16, 2017 9:59 pm

Ani wrote:
reineke wrote:A decoding phase - input is ‘translated’ into the sounds of the language

A lexical search phase - in which the listener searches his brain (long-term memory) for words which match or nearly match these sounds.

A parsing phase - in which he must recognise a grammar pattern in a string of words and fit a word to the linguistic context surrounding it

A meaning-building phase - in which, having ‘broken’ the speech flow, identified the words he heard and how they fit grammatically in the sentence he finally makes sense of it

A discourse-construction phase - in which the understanding of each unit of meaning (e.g. sentence) is connected to the larger context of the narrative. In this phase, one’s background knowledge will help enhance comprehension.



The problem as I see it, with a list like this is that most of these aspects are handled in the brain exactly like in the native language. You really don't have to teach through a "lexical search phase" because that is what people do when they pay attention and try to figure something out. The "decoding phase" however, could use an enormous amount of work and teaching as phonemes, accenting and rhythms may be all new and difficult to hear. I think it might be more productive to identify the areas we can actually teach and which ones need to be acquired by "just listening". I don't have an answer but I am becoming a big fan of early, thorough, explicit instruction in phonology... And then cartoons.

I'd love to hear if there are other ideas out there on which aspects of listening can actively be taught to speed up the rate of skill acquisition. It seems so often like "listening drills" are simply quizzes, not actually skill building tasks.
Dictation seems to be a significant part of french children's french language education. Wouldn't that be a practical method for self-study of listening skills?
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Re: Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

Postby blaurebell » Sun Apr 16, 2017 10:02 pm

Ani wrote:I'd love to hear if there are other ideas out there on which aspects of listening can actively be taught to speed up the rate of skill acquisition. It seems so often like "listening drills" are simply quizzes, not actually skill building tasks.


In my experience it all just depends on vocabulary and the actual time of listening without understanding can be reduced to a bare minimum by building vocabulary with intensive reading, as long as one hast the phonology in place beforehand. With French I did Wyner's pronunciation trainer, followed by a bit of FSI French phonology and shadowing half of Assimil. Then I read 5000 pages intensively, no listening at all during that time. It took me then only 2 seasons of Buffy French dubs to get to 95% comprehension, one season with Subtitles, one without. The whole 7 seasons got me to 97-99%, it was amazingly fast.
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Re: Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

Postby Ani » Sun Apr 16, 2017 10:08 pm

DaveBee wrote:Dictation seems to be a significant part of french children's french language education. Wouldn't that be a practical method for self-study of listening skills?


Dictée is largely for teaching spelling/orthography, though. I'm sure it is done differently in many places, but usually the dictation is studied in advance. Given out on Monday/tested on Friday type thing. I do think it might be useful but not necessarily any more useful to listening skills than learning individual sentences, or learning words in chunks as described in that first post. Unless we are saying that good spelling leads to good listening. Which it might, idk :)
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Re: Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

Postby reineke » Mon Apr 17, 2017 1:36 am

Dictation is similar to transcription. You'll find these exercises and plenty of vocabulary tips in Paul Nation's book about language learning (link below). In order to complete dictation or transcription exercises the learner needs to be able to capture large language chunks in his working memory and render them word by word in writing. Needless to say, in order to do that the learner needs to be able to extricate words from a stream of speech. If we were to try boosting this process, we could take a look at specific approaches, tools, or adapted materials.

HPVT - High Variability Phonetic Training

http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=328

Slowed down speech - an umbrella term...

viewtopic.php?f=14&t=3745&hilit=Slowed+down+speech

SRS?

Paul Nation's page. Includes a free book:
What you need to know to learn a foreign language.The book includes some common sense advice and suggestions.
http://www.victoria.ac.nz/lals/about/staff/paul-nation
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Re: Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

Postby Voytek » Mon Apr 17, 2017 5:59 am

reineke wrote: The ability to detect individual words in running speech is a fundamental early requirement for language acquisition.


That's why I was using the L-R method (particularly the 1st phase) in the very beginning of my study of Swedish. It really helped me to acquire that skill and it took me about 4 hours maybe to do so.
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Re: Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

Postby Arnaud » Mon Apr 17, 2017 6:10 am

Ani wrote:
DaveBee wrote:Dictation seems to be a significant part of french children's french language education. Wouldn't that be a practical method for self-study of listening skills?


Dictée is largely for teaching spelling/orthography, though. I'm sure it is done differently in many places, but usually the dictation is studied in advance. Given out on Monday/tested on Friday type thing. I do think it might be useful but not necessarily any more useful to listening skills than learning individual sentences, or learning words in chunks as described in that first post. Unless we are saying that good spelling leads to good listening. Which it might, idk :)
Yes, dictations are done only for orthography.
In my time, the dictations were not prepared in advance: it was "today, dictation: open your notebook and write...", and you wrote during 1/4 hour.

That being said, I think dictations can be useful when you learn a language that is not written as it is spoken, like russian or french: I regularly do little dictations in russian (with a book+CD for 1st to 4th classes: lot of animals and trees names at the beginning), and it usually turns out to be a deep wound for my ego 8-)
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Re: Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

Postby Voytek » Mon Apr 17, 2017 6:35 am

May be it's a good idea to make an animated series for kids with the karaoke like subtitles to teach them that skill quite easily.
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