Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

General discussion about learning languages
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reineke
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Re: Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

Postby reineke » Tue Mar 27, 2018 11:09 pm

The learning brain is less flexible than we thought

"New research from CMU and Pitt reveals that the brain has various mechanisms and constraints by which it reorganizes its neural activity when learning over the course of a few hours. The new research finds that, when learning a new task, the brain is less flexible than previously thought.

When faced with a new task, we’re finding that the brain is constrained to take the neural activity patterns that it’s capable of generating right now and use them as effectively as possible in this new task.”

“When we learn, at first the brain tends to not produce new activity patterns, but to repurpose the activity patterns it already knows how to generate,”

Acquiring a skill is very difficult, and it takes a lot of time and a lot of practice. But when you’re first starting to learn a new skill, your brain has to adjust quickly to the new task. The researchers found that the brain is constrained to take neural activity patterns it already knows and use them for the new task. By repurposing neuron patterns the brain is already capable of generating, the brain applies a “quick and dirty fix” to the new problem it’s facing.

“None of us predicted this outcome,”

https://engineering.cmu.edu/news-events ... chase.html

A Message From Your Brain: I'm Not Good At Remembering What I Hear
https://relay.nationalgeographic.com/pr ... ch-science

Rapid and automatic speech-specific learning mechanism in human neocortex

We report a robust neurophysiological index of memory-trace formation for novel words.

• Short perceptual exposure produces a rapid increase in word-elicited brain activation.

• This neural learning occurs automatically, irrespective of attention allocation.

This automatic mechanism works for native language but not for unfamiliar phonology.


"Word learning in a second language with unfamiliar phonology is thus not automatised; it is likely to be considerably slower and require higher level of attention than that for native words. This is also supported by previous observations of smaller brain response to words of a second language in learners with low proficiency in contrast to native-like activation in high proficient learners (Ojima et al., 2005; Wong et al., 2007). The critical prerequisite for fast mapping of new lexical items therefore seems to be an existing neural circuit for their low-level phonological constituents which they can be mapped onto, facilitating the assembly of those constituents to form new lexical units."

The Phonological Loop as a Language Learnig Device

"In the case of written input of verbal material, the visual analysis will be fed into the phonological store by means of subvocal speech by using the articulatory system. This system is also used for verbal output, which in the case of overt speech will lead to an auditory input that in turn will enter the phonological store. This process can be operated in the absence of overt output, as in the case of silent rehearsal, in which case the phonological store is activated in the absence of auditory input. Neuropsychological evidence is broadly supportive of this structure...

...the precise registration of phonological sequences while they are receded into a more durable form in phonological and lexical LTM. Note that it is important for such a system to make use of prior phonological and lexical knowledge but not to allow that knowledge to override the short-term representation of novel stimuli. A system that simply reflects existing knowledge will be inherently conservative and insensitive to novel inputs and as such will represent a poor learning system.

Conversely, a system that attempts to learn all novel events will run the risk of unnecessarily committing valuable storage resources. Consider the case of spoken language. Many of the utterances people hear are spoken in a range of different voices, accents, or are partially masked by ambient noise. Permanent storage of the novel tokens in each of these cases would be premature and of little value.

However, a system in which learning occurs incrementally over time, on the basis of the detection of repeated features of temporary memory representations, would allow a long-term record of new words to be based on abstractions of sound patterns consistent over several exposures. In this way learning of mispronounced stimuli or strangely accented forms is minimized, allowing effective use of limited learning resources to be focused on real new words. What is required therefore is some form of temporary representation that can both provide an accurate if brief record of specific potentially novel input while relating that input to the long-term system that represents the prior knowledge of the structure of language.

It is important to note that the phonological LTM is not an episodic memory system but rather represents the residue of accumulated
long-term phonological knowledge."

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/do ... 1&type=pdf

...confirming what we know about automatic phonological loop activation in working memory during reading (in simpler words: whether we are aware of it or not, the brain automatically converts letters into sounds as we read, even when we are not reading aloud).

https://gianfrancoconti.wordpress.com/2 ... -learners/

"Another way in which L1-transfer affects pronunciation pertains to the fact that skilled L1-readers are very familiar with the written form of their native language, and automatically decode every grapheme (i.e. letter or cluster of letters) they read by producing a phonological representation of the sound (Snow,2002). This means that, when a learner reads a foreign language word its Working Memory will automatically match that sound with a first language phonological representation (i.e. will pronounce it the first language way). Thus, even if that learner reads a given word aloud following the teacher’s rendition of it, the L1 phonological representation of that word in the learner’s Working Memory will cause interference, with negative consequences for learning."

https://gianfrancoconti.wordpress.com/2 ... unciation/

Self-assessment of pronunciation
It is generally assumed that second language (L2) learners find it difficult to self-assess their pronunciation skills...

In our study, 46 advanced learners of German assessed their own articulation of different speech sounds in comparison with the sounds produced by a native speaker... In 85% of all cases the assessments of the raters and the self-assessments were identical. However,
the learners only identified half of the number of speech sounds which the raters believed to be inaccurate. The study therefore confirms that even experienced L2 learners seem to find it difficult to self-assess correctly their pronunciation skills."
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/a ... 1X08000602

Students tend to resist the use of audio

"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..."

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Re: Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

Postby tastyonions » Wed Mar 28, 2018 12:19 am

olim21 wrote:
tastyonions wrote:Because it is easy to fool yourself.


Why? You can't compare between what you hear and what you pronounce? I can.

I can manage pretty well by myself, I think, but listen to non-natives who learned as adults speak any language you care to mention, even ones who have been speaking the language for a number of years, and you will quickly find evidence that many people...can't. They may be understandable, but one can be perfectly understandable with a grating accent or even a significantly flawed pronunciation, provided that it's flawed in ways that don't erase too many distinctions present in the target language.
I can't say that I have. You can always find oddballs, I guess. What I have seen very often however is comments below a youtube video telling the guy in the video how amazing he is, speaking flawlessly, with no accent, like a native, when I would have described the performance as crappy at best.

That happens, too. Maybe some of those hyperbolic comments are even from natives trying to encourage learners. That's why it can pay to find someone who will just give it to you straight.

;)
Last edited by tastyonions on Wed Mar 28, 2018 2:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

Postby smallwhite » Wed Mar 28, 2018 1:27 am

desitrader wrote:
olim21 wrote:...

Hi Olim21,
I am finding your posts very thought-provoking and different from all the usual stuff one reads on language learning sites, ...

I agree. I know LLorg is heavily biased, but when I googled things myself, I found that many sites were just regurgitating info copied from one another. You need a lot of patience to sift through the repetition to find different opinions. So I thank olim21 for taking the time to patiently explain his thoughts to us. I know it's hard, we've always been rather hostile towards non-conformers. But for members for whom LLorg forms 99% of their knowledge and expectations about language-learning, and for members for whom 99% of their academic reading about the subject comes from extracts that are extracted by reineke, including myself, olim21's participation is invaluable. Thank you again, olim21.
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Re: Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

Postby Adrianslont » Wed Mar 28, 2018 1:45 am

smallwhite wrote:
desitrader wrote:
olim21 wrote:...

Hi Olim21,
I am finding your posts very thought-provoking and different from all the usual stuff one reads on language learning sites, ...

I agree. I know LLorg is heavily biased, but when I googled things myself, I found that many sites were just regurgitating info copied from one another. You need a lot of patience to sift through the repetition to find different opinions. So I thank olim21 for taking the time to patiently explain his thoughts to us. I know it's hard, we've always been rather hostile towards non-conformers. But for members for whom LLorg forms 99% of their knowledge and expectations about language-learning, and for members for whom 99% of their academic reading about the subject comes from extracts that are extracted by reineke, including myself, olim21's participation is invaluable. Thank you again, olim21.

I’ve been meaning to say something like this for some days now. I’ve found it a very interesting discussion, too. Thanks olim21 and others for the interesting read.

I will add that I especially liked olim21’s questioning of how the brain works - I personally think we shouldn’t just use a brain-computer metaphor. I think terms like store, retrieve, process and pattern matching are inadequate to describe what is going on in the brain. I think they give us a framework for research and discussion but I suspect that framework is delusional. I’m not so sure about mold, either, though! Maybe someone will be able to convince me of something regarding brains and earning one day.

I’m not a fan of questioning orthodoxies just for the hell if it. I’m not a complete contrarian but I’ve enjoyed olim21’s calm questioning of certain orthodoxies - while he also promotes viewpoints that are not so alien to many on this forum ie lots of reading is good for you and you need to get on top of the phonology! Like smallwhite i enjoyed the “patient” explanation.
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Re: Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

Postby olim21 » Wed Mar 28, 2018 3:00 am

reineke wrote:The learning brain is less flexible than we thought


What "flexible" is supposed to mean here? Because the brain is capable to take the shape you want with the right training and time. Seems pretty flexible to me.

If it means it takes time. Then this a good thing. You don't want a brain jumping all over the place, changing immediately when you want to learn something new. Your consciousness would be very chaotic, you would think that things happen outside your control. You would go crazy very quickly.

Our brain "use" an "algorithm" that give it the ability to gradually change toward a solution. Your brain changes all the time, continuously and gradually. Each time you see, hear, feel, smell, each time it receives a signal in fact, your brain changes slightly, those changes are so small they are unnoticeable, but over time they add up in a particular "direction", slowly approaching some sort of solution. It works that way because nobody knows what the solution is in advance, you don't know, your brain doesn't know. So it can't jump to it.

reineke wrote:“When faced with a new task, we’re finding that the brain is constrained to take the neural activity patterns that it’s capable of generating right now and use them as effectively as possible in this new task.”


Isn't that obvious? What were they expecting?

reineke wrote:“When we learn, at first the brain tends to not produce new activity patterns, but to repurpose the activity patterns it already knows how to generate,”


Of course. But it doesn't repurpose, it just keeps doing what it was doing, taking new input and gradually, unnoticeably tending toward a new solution that will maybe solve the problem at hand.

reineke wrote:Acquiring a skill is very difficult, and it takes a lot of time and a lot of practice.


Really, who would have thought?

reineke wrote:By repurposing neuron patterns the brain is already capable of generating, the brain applies a “quick and dirty fix” to the new problem it’s facing.


So the brain is just patching itself. How amazing: an explanation with no explanatory power.

reineke wrote:“None of us predicted this outcome,”


Oh boy, it makes me so sad...

That's exactly the kind of study that should not have been published, full of childish made up explanations (in other words a story) of some observed phenomenon with no connections to the real world. No connection with physics, neurobiology, AI, philosophy or any of the others possibly related fields.

Like you could explain how the brain works in isolation, ignoring everything else. But because we have named and located a few new things, and we have a story for it, we somehow think we have learned something.

Important note:

I haven't read the full article, not very encouraged by the few passages quoted by reineke.

I finally decided to read it. And I have nothing to change.

--
OM
Last edited by olim21 on Wed Mar 28, 2018 5:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

Postby amardeep » Wed Mar 28, 2018 3:41 am

olim21 wrote:
reineke wrote:The learning brain is less flexible than we thought


What "flexible" is supposed to mean here? Because the brain is capable to take the shape you want with the right training and time. Seems pretty flexible to me.

If it means it takes time. Then this a good thing. You don't want a brain jumping all over the place, changing immediately when you want to learn something new. Your consciousness would be very chaotic, you would think that things happen outside your control. You would go crazy very quickly.

Our brain "use" an "algorithm" that give it the ability to gradually change toward a solution. Your brain change all the time, continuously and gradually. Each time you see, hear, feel, smell, each time it receives a signal in fact, your brain change slightly, those changes are so small they are unnoticeable, but over time they add up in a particular "direction", slowly approaching some sort of solution. It works that way because nobody knows what the solution is in advance, you don't know, your brain doesn't know. So it can't jump to it.

reineke wrote:“When faced with a new task, we’re finding that the brain is constrained to take the neural activity patterns that it’s capable of generating right now and use them as effectively as possible in this new task.”


Isn't that obvious? What were they expecting?

reineke wrote:“When we learn, at first the brain tends to not produce new activity patterns, but to repurpose the activity patterns it already knows how to generate,”


Of course. But it doesn't repurpose, it just keeps doing what it was doing, taking new input and gradually, unnoticeably tending toward a new solution that will maybe solve the problem at hand.

reineke wrote:Acquiring a skill is very difficult, and it takes a lot of time and a lot of practice.


Really, who would have thought?

reineke wrote:By repurposing neuron patterns the brain is already capable of generating, the brain applies a “quick and dirty fix” to the new problem it’s facing.


So the brain is just patching itself. How amazing: an explanation with no explanatory power.

reineke wrote:“None of us predicted this outcome,”


I think you are being unnecessary hostile. As someone who studied computer science and AI, all of this does sound common sense to me now, but it is not true of everybody. Especially, when you think of these in terms of challenges involved in learning a new language. For me, it was an epiphany when i realized that the reason Pimsleur Japanese worked amazingly for me, and Pimsleur Russian didn't work at all, was to do with the fact that japanese phonemes were easily matched to my existing repertoire of phonemes, so i was able to hear what was being narrated, but this was not true of Russian at all, and i needed to first focus deliberately on being able to pronounce these new sounds and learn to be able to distinguish these new novel sounds - and that is a slow process.
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Re: Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

Postby olim21 » Wed Mar 28, 2018 3:53 am

Adrianslont wrote:Thanks olim21 and others for the interesting read.


Thanks.

I was wondering if people other than those already participating in the discussion were reading. Happy to see that you are re-thinking about the subject.

Adrianslont wrote:I personally think we shouldn’t just use a brain-computer metaphor. I think terms like store, retrieve, process and pattern matching are inadequate to describe what is going on in the brain.


I do think the brain is a computer (no metaphor). But a computer in the most basic sense, i.e. a device that transforms an input into an output in a repeatable way.

But also, I agree that in a lot of minds the term "computer" means something like a PC with a processor, memory and everything that you can program to do what you want. And those ideas of parsing, storing, etc comes from there. We have heard and read them so many times that we now think they are real and forgot that they used to be just metaphors for something we do not fully understand.

Adrianslont wrote:I think they give us a framework for research and discussion but I suspect that framework is delusional.


Exactly.

Adrianslont wrote:I’m not so sure about mold, either, though!


Yes, not too happy myself. :-)

I use the mold idea more to illustrate the difference of speed between the two processes. Of course the brain is not a mold either. This idea comes from how we talk about certain machine learning algorithm. But that idea makes sense when you understand it, I think.

Adrianslont wrote:I’m not a fan of questioning orthodoxies just for the hell if it.


I don't think many people enjoy going against the current. I'm not a fan either. Having to convince the established majority is never a comfortable position to be in.

--
OM
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Re: Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

Postby Serpent » Wed Mar 28, 2018 4:33 am

olim21 wrote:Was it listening? Or more like hearing?
Listening. I understood the easy stuff for learners and I recognized familiar words in songs but I couldn't process the language fast enough otherwise.
Well, there is if you trained correctly from the beginning.
We have different definitions of training correctly.
What I'm trying to make people realize is that most of the learning happens during reading.
Historically, people have always learned languages by speaking. See Bakunin's posts.
Also, we vary a lot in how easily we can read in a new language, etc. My reading speed is atrocious even in L1.

that forum, and HTLAL before it, are full of failed experiments of people trying to learn just by listening. Is there even one success story?
Depends on what you consider success. At one point I used subtitled videos to get my Spanish reading to the level of my listening. Is that перемога success?
Because if you listen without understanding, what are you supposed to learn?
I never mentioned listening without understanding. In a related language you have some understanding from the very beginning (okay there are some complicated cases like Danish).
One solution to resolve this would be to lower the amount of vocabulary tremendously and increase the amount of context and repetition. Basically trying to recreate the situation you have when reading. And in that case you will be able to learn again. It will be slow, painful and boring but it will work. However that's not how I would like to learn, looks too much like torture to me.
Still better than going through a typical textbook :P If you use visual clues, generally there's much more interesting video stuff than books with pictures. (and children's books are expensive and have very little text)
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Re: Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

Postby reineke » Wed Mar 28, 2018 6:12 am

We already have several "listening sucks because it's slow" threads here and over at HTLAL. If I recall correctly, we even had a "liistening is crap for vocabulary" and "how can you possibly learn grammar from listening" types of discussions. I've shared my personal story. I have also mentioned plenty of times that I prefer to learn by ear. I cannot help it if you "forget" about it and choose to keep bringing up one of the two guys who years ago decided to attempt to learn Mandarin through a listening "experiment". I've researched the relevant HTLAL posts and I have seen references to my experience by both "experimenters". Somehow it is more convenient to poke fun at the people who are not present to speak for themselves.

Re SLA orthodoxies.

I am disappointed that the aforementioned ideas about reading are being seen as a challenge to the SLA "establishment". I've always tried to share new ideas and research that challenges the status quo and fights the general ignorance in the subject. At the same time I have tried to inform readers of the views by the leading experts in the field. I don't know how many times I've shared Paul Nation's book about balanced language learning strategies even though I personally dislike vocabulary cramming, flashcards, graded readers and the like. Unlike my critics I do not pretend to understand the human brain and I have to borrow heavily from psycholinguists, SLA researchers and others. I do read and reread these studies as best I can and sometimes I do "custom research" when I spot a statement that contradicts what I believe to be true in language learning. I do believe that adult learners are their own worst enemies. The main idea behind my posts was to help others while at the same time challenging certain established views so this posturing above about the bravery to go against the current is so much more insulting. For this thread I had in mind to reunite the most interesting new research about listening that I buried in my log and around the forum.

Let me regurgitate one last time some research and blog posts that are relevant for this discussion that now includes reading. You can be sure that none of this is established orthodoxy.

This review argues that the first language one was taught to read, and the instructional method by which one was taught, can have profound and long-lasting effects on how one reads, not only in one’s first language, but also in one’s second language. Readers who first learn a transparent orthography rely more heavily on the sublexical phonology pathway, and this seems relatively impervious to instruction. Readers who first learn a more opaque orthography rely more on morphological/orthographic information, but the degree to which they do so can be modulated by instructional method. Finally, readers who first learned to read a highly opaque morphosyllabic orthography use less sublexical phonology while reading in their second language than do other second language learners and this effect may be heightened if they were not also exposed to an orthography that codes for phonological units during early literacy acquisition. These effects of early literacy experiences on reading procedure are persistent despite increases in reading ability..."

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articl ... po=57.0122

"Sound may have been the original vehicle for language, but writing allows us to create and understand words without it. Yet new research shows that sound remains a critical element of reading.

The results add to mounting evidence that words are fundamentally processed and catalogued by their basic sounds and shapes."

https://www.scientificamerican.com/arti ... ken-aloud/

The Impact of Orthography on L2 Phonolexical Acquisition

The acquisition of L2 sound contrasts is notoriously difficult. ...Difficulty at both the phonetic and phonological/lexical levels...

depleted attention from the auditory input
–having to establish novel sound-letter correspondences
–unintuitive, arbitrary graphemic representation

Conclusion

• There is more to L2 speech processing than meets the eye. :)
• ...unfamiliar spelling can hinder the acquisition of a phonological contrast in a second language.
More work is needed to fully understand the interrelationship between orthography and L2 phonological acquisition.

The influence of foreign scripts on the acquisition of a second language phonological contrast
First Published September 3, 2015

Abstract

Besides revealing, for the first time,that foreign written input can significantly hinder learners’ ability to reliably encode an L2 phonological contrast, [/b]this study also provides further evidence for the irrepressible hold of native orthographic rules on L2 phonological acquisition[/b].

http://slr.sagepub.com/content/32/2/145.abstract

LEXICAL REPRESENTATION WITHOUT PERCEPTION: HELP OR HINDRANCE FOR THE LEARNER?

In L1, the lexicon and input match: the contrasts that are phonologically represented in the lexicon are those that are perceptually distinguished in the input. However, what we see here is a mismatch between input and lexicon for listeners attempting to acquire these difficult contrasts. What implications follow from this for the learner of an L2?

As described by Escudero (2015), the inclusion in the lexicon of a contrast that is indistiguishable in perception has been viewed in some literature as evidence that orthographic information (the implied source of the distinction) can assist the L2 learner...

However, what if the lexical representation does not match the perceived input?

...a very serious hindrance arises when a distinction that cannot be perceived in the input is incorporated in the lexicon.

L2 learners are doing themselves no perceptual favor at all by incorporating into their lexicon (whether by using information from orthography or from any other source) a distinction that they cannot reliably perceive in the input.

...phonemic repertoire is not the only phonological information that L2 learners must master.

Phonotactic constraints are language-specific also (and L1 phonotactics can interfere with L2 listening even at very high levels of L2 proficiency; Weber & Cutler, 2006). Suprasegmental information such as pitch can be lexically distinctive in one of a speaker’s languages but quite irrelevant for distinguishing between words in another. The phonological shape of words differs across languages, as does lexical
prosody... While alphabetic writing systems provide reasonably good information about phonemic repertoires (especially when grapheme-to-phoneme mappings are highly consistent), the rest of the phonological information that L2 learners need to acquire is hardly available from reading at all. Give or take a few indirect implications and an occasional language that makes certain phonological structures explicit, the natural availability of nonsegmental phonological information in orthography is unimpressive:

1. Sentence prosody:
2. Lexical prosody:
3. Phonotactics:
4. Casual speech processes:

In summary, very little information about phonology is available in written text.

Listeners whose L1 does not have lexical stress are known to experience great difficulty encoding and recalling stress patterns... L2 learners from such backgrounds also perform poorly on tests of stress mastery in their L2 even when they can accurately perceive an equivalent nonlinguistic contrast... Conversely, listeners whose L1 is another stress language are able to perceive and store the stress patterns of their L2, even if the L1 and L2 stress placement rules differ...

None of this suggests that L2 learners can expect much true and lasting help from recourse to orthography in their quest to master an L2 phonology. Obviously mastering the orthography of an L2 is necessary for full use of the language, and it relationships between words, appreciating morphological structure, and more...In both L1 and L2, lexical representations are abstracted from input evidence, and every aspect of such a representation that has as its source other than spoken input must be solely based on abstract knowledge.

In conclusion, using orthography or other abstract speech-external information to incorporate a distinction into lexical representations certainly works. However, the side effects of gaining the distinction solely in such a way, without perceptually attainable support, are added competition, and hence processing delay in word recognition, which can be quite inimical to learners’ progress in their L2."

http://www.mpi.nl/publications/escidoc-1868203

Native English speakers learning Arabic: The influence of novel orthographic information on second language phonological acquisition

"Orthographic information may “override” auditory information when…auditory and orthographic information “conflict” and auditory information is unusable because learners cannot perceive the auditory contrast... Orthographic input may cause learners to misremember the phonological forms of newly‐learned L2 words and create non‐target‐like phonological representations for L2 syllables."

Second Language Experience Can Hinder the Discrimination of Nonnative Phonological Contrasts

"In summary, the current study has presented a case in which naïve listeners were more accurate at the discrimination of a nonnative contrast than novice L2 learners of the language. In the speech perception literature, ‘L2 experience’ is typically operationalized as phonetic input or some variable, such as length of residence, that is presumed to reflect the amount of phonetic input the L2 learner has received. Typical L2 experience outside of the laboratory, however, is multifaceted, comprising not just linguistic input, but also explicit metalinguistic instruction and exposure to written language...

http://www.karger.com/Article/PDF/443312

Phonetic input, phonological categories and orthographic representations: a psycholinguistic perspective on why language education needs oral corpora

"The preference accorded to written documents over oral material in traditional formal language education. This is mostly due to practical reasons: lack of oral data and material, stability of written language (useful for metalinguistic analysis – which is linked to the limited capacity of our working memory), etc.

As psycholinguists know, ...not only do the linguistic properties of oral and written stimuli differ, but so does their psycholinguistic processing by language learners, from low-level perceptual process (reading process vs listening process) to higher-level mnesic encoding in the phonological and/or orthographic lexicon... In this case, there is often an imbalance between orthographic and phonetic input, due to limited linguistic exposure...

...while multiple-talker training leads to consistently good results, training with stimuli produced by only one talker may fail to promote generalization to new stimuli and talkers.

When we examine in detail the influence of written input (in L1 and/or L2) on oral L2 learning and more specifically on L2 phonology learning, either on a segmental or syllabic level, we realize that using orthographic transcriptions and/or transliterations of oral data can hinder the development of oral skills..."
https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00370729/document

Representation of second language phonology

"None of this suggests that L2 learners can expect much true and lasting help from recourse to orthography in their quest to master an L2 phonology."
http://www.mpi.nl/publications/escidoc-1868203

How to lessen the negative interference of our learners’ mother tongue on their target language pronunciation Phonology

In the specifics of foreign language pronunciation L2-learners transfer refers to the L2-learners’ application of their L1-phonological categories to decode and represent the foreign language sound system. This phenomenon is exacerbated by the fact that their motor commands (their control over larynx, phrarynx and articulators) have been conditioned by years and years of first language pronunciation.

Negative transfer is more likely to cause error at pronunciation level, when speech occurs in contexts that are difficult to monitor or which require a greater mastery of motor skills. So, for instance, a beginner foreign language learner talking spontaneously in the context of uncontrolled communicative practice will have less time to monitor pronunciation because his/her Working Memory is focused on higher metacomponents such as meaning and grammar;

Another way in which L1-transfer affects pronunciation pertains to the fact that skilled L1-readers are very familiar with the written form of their native language, and automatically decode every grapheme (i.e. letter or cluster of letters) they read by producing a phonological representation of the sound (Snow,2002). This means that, when a learner reads a foreign language word its Working Memory will automatically match that sound with a first language phonological representation (i.e. will pronounce it the first language way). Thus, even if that learner reads a given word aloud following the teacher’s rendition of it, the L1 phonological representation of that word in the learner’s Working Memory will cause interference, with negative consequences for learning.

How can we reduce the negative impact of L2-transfer on pronunciation?

Firstly, in order to avoid interference from a grapheme’s L1 phonological encoding on first introducing a new word it would be preferable not to expose the learners to its written form – this would avoid automated representation of the native phonological representation in Working Memory. In other words, it is better to present it orally, first in association with an image and, after some listening practice, to show it in its written form. Secondly, L2 learners should be exposed to as much listening as possible in the context of a mute period before engaging in oral activities. Thirdly, ...students seem to perform challenging L2 phonemes (sounds) more effectively when pronounced in isolation... Finally, students need lots of practice in the context of structured and unstructured communicative activities.

Traditional pronunciation drills (audiolingual style), minimal pairs and tongue-twisters or any other activities focusing students on pronunciation can be thrown in at the pre-communicative stage...
https://gianfrancoconti.wordpress.com/2015/05/19/how-to-lessen-the-negative-interference-of-our-learners-mother-tongue-on-their-target-language-pronunciation/

Eight listening-research findings every teacher should be aware of and their implications for teaching and learning

7. Many foreign language teachers are not fully aware of the differences between Reading and Listening processes (Conti, 2014 – forthcoming).

Let us Lund (1991) remind us of the main issues in which reading and listening comprehension diverge:

In listening, the complete text is not available for perusal. It is heard as it is uttered. In other words, whilst in reading text exists in space, in listening it exists in time, lasting in the brain only two seconds whilst the listener is only 0.25 seconds behind the speaker. The difficulty is exacerbated by the fact that in listening tasks the students only hear the text twice;
The listener cannot control the pace of the text (unless s/he is in control of the output source);
Listeners are compelled to resort to parallel distributed processing. In other words, they need to juggle several processes at the same time at each stage of comprehension, having to tap into many micro-skills simultaneously with the obvious interferences this causes, especially at lower levels of proficiency;
The sound system of the L2 poses a significant problem;
Gaps in speech are not the same as the gaps one finds in written texts;
Cognates identical in print usually sound differently in continuous speech;
Spoken texts, moreover, have intonation, stress, regional accents, background noise and other variations of acoustic features;
Whereas intermediate readers benefit (as Lund’s experiment showed) from repetition of text, intermediate listeners don’t (they make a first-pass hypothesis and stick to it);

An L2 reader remembers more ideas and details about a text they read than an L2 listener about a text they heard.

Macaro (2003) adds another important difference: in listening we use more top-down strategies and prior knowledge to compensate for the issue Lund lists above (such as: guessing from context, prediction, knowledge of the task, etc.)

https://gianfrancoconti.wordpress.com/2 ... -learning/

"The view that input is comprehended speech is mistaken and has arisen from an uncritical examination of the implications of Krashen’s (1985) claims to this effect. …… Comprehending speech is something which happens as a consequence of a successful parse of the speech signal. Before one can successfully parse the L2, one must learn it’s grammatical properties. Krashen got it backwards!

Learners do not attend to things in the input as such, they respond to speech-signals by attempting to parse the signals, and failures to do so trigger attention to parts of the signal. Carroll’s Autonomous Induction Theory is too complicated for me to offer a brief summary of, but in my opinion, Carroll’s assertions that it is possible to have speech-signal processing without attention-as-noticing or attention-as-awareness are persuasive."

https://criticalelt.wordpress.com

A road-map for bridging research and practice in pronunciation teaching

“Language is sound”.

"Pronunciation is indissociable from the rest of language behavior."

"• To make the language come alive requires the behaviors related to listening, speaking, reading and writing.
• Phonological, lexical, and structural knowledge lie at the heart of the language"

“They sound the same, but I know they are different”

Dissociated mechanisms for phonetic and lexical learning in a second language

Spoken word recognition and
the L2 mental lexicon

– phonetic perception and lexical
encoding are related
– L2 learners differ from native
speakers in lexical behavior

• Experiment series 1: Merged L2 lexical representations?
• Experiment series 2: Fuzzy or not fuzzy? Two hypotheses about the form of words in the L2 lexicon

Segmental “deafness”

Good part : Don’t feel bad (and there is hope!)
Distressing part : Perceptual learning gives no guarantee

Bad part : We don‘t know what‘s going on
– Role of orthography (e.g. Showalter & Hayes-Harb, 2013; Escudero et al. 2008).
– Phonological licensing
Interesting part : What can we do about it?"

You'll need to Google for the document.
Last edited by reineke on Thu Mar 29, 2018 5:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Fortheo
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Re: Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

Postby Fortheo » Wed Mar 28, 2018 6:24 am

olim21 wrote: Since I don't know you I can't really judge and compare with what I know. But I have a few comments. I will try to be nice, however if you feel offended by some of them, feel free to ignore.

Fortheo wrote:I've been able to read French books fairly easily for about a year now.


Just to be clear, here. It's not really about being able to, but more a question of level.

For example, I can read Finnish quite easily this days, but my vocabulary only cover 70-80% of the words of a random text still. So despite being able to read and understand quite a lot, my listening is still not very good, yet. I can read better, (or so it seems), because I can break some of the words I don't know into pieces that I do know, or use the context to infer the meaning of some other words, or reread to solve issues when I misunderstand.

But if you remove all the advantages that help me read better, my comprehension level is the same whether I read or listen. It has been this way from the beginning and when my reading improves, my listening improves with it.


I couldn't give you an exact standardized answer for what my reading level is, but I can say that I haven't had any big comprehension problems reading a French book for a while now. That said, I'm not reading academic books with high brow writing--more-so just modern day fiction writers, websites, comics or what my friends write to me, etc etc. Don't get me wrong, my reading comprehension in French isn't flawless, but it's not far off from my reading in English.


Fortheo wrote:I've also read out loud for various French people in order for them to criticize my pronunciation


olim21 wrote:I don't know why you need someone else to evaluate your pronunciation. Can't you do it by yourself?


I have access to native speakers, so why wouldn't I want to hear their input on my accent? Especially since it's their accent and their pronunciation that i'm trying to mimic? Native speakers are a useful tool and they're part of the reason why my accent has improved over the years. I can critique my own accent, but when in doubt, I'd rather go to a native speaker for advice.


olim21 wrote: Because then you have to interpret what they mean. What do they mean by good pronunciation? Does that mean, they can understand you? Does that mean this is not that bad for an English speaker? Does that mean this is very impressive?


I'll be sure to ask my friends what "good" means, but if you want every single critique I've ever received it would be common errors like slipping up on the u / ou distinction in French. I've always suspected I've slipped up on nasal vowels from time to time, so I point them out to native speakers and ask for advice, but apparently I pronounce them correctly. So my guess is good means good, but definitely not perfect.

To be clear, this is a work in progress for me and has been for a while. My reading isn't perfect. My accent isn't perfect. I cannot give you the definite answers that you want in regards to my reading level or in regards to my pronunciation because these are very hard for me to qualify and I've never been tested or critiqued in a truly professional/scientific/linguistic context in regards to my French language abilities; and because of that, any response I give would be anecdotal and could lead into an endless circle of questions and equivocations. This is just a hobby for me--i can't give you the exact, well studied answers that you need.

All I can say for certain is that my reading comprehension is above my listening comprehension and that my pronunciation has never posed a comprehension problem with native speakers.

This is just a fun hobby for me and my post was just anecdotal. I hope you find somebody willing to be a case study for you, because you have a lot of good questions, but I think they'd be better asked in a controlled experiment/ environment, and I can't provide that for you.

Take care. It's always nice to see people bring in different ideas.
Last edited by Fortheo on Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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