Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

General discussion about learning languages
Dragon27
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Re: Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

Postby Dragon27 » Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:09 am

I'm not going to answer to every little point (just to what I think is the main reasoning line), because this overquoting is really not very productive.

olim21 wrote:Yes, it is a lot. But Compared to the amount of reading you will have to do to develop your understanding to a level comparable to your native language, this is nothing.

But it's not nothing. It's a huge amount of pretty dense activity (intensive listening, you called it), that will be a strong basis of all your future language progress (no matter how much the latter will take).
The hours of that very important first stage are dwarfed in comparison with later stages. But the importance is not.

olim21 wrote:Sure, but is it part of language learning? This is something you can do later when you already understand the language. When you have the best chance of success.

The order of learning activities... is a matter of debate for many people. I prefer to uphold the natural order - listening first. So do you. It will be pretty hard to correct the fossilized mistakes (already formed synaptic pathways), than getting them right from the beginning. It's easier to get different accents, when you already understand one accent (that shares some general language features - like phonemes - to a great degree with them), that you learn to do at the beginning of your language learning. It could be some widespread accent, or a neutral (without regional features) one.
So you try to get your listening skill properly developed at the beginning, and then develop your vocabulary and phrasal knowledge (and all the rest) with reading. And continue doing some listening "for enjoyment and checking the understanding" from time to time later. It's a good strategy. But what you've claimed at the beginning of this discussion (that listening is not a skill) is oversimplifying your experience. You develop your strong listening skill of the language first, which saves you from a lot of pain later. And you improve your listening skills after that, but it's largely facilitated by your language expertise developed by reading (which you call "understanding"). So, maybe, you don't even notice it?

olim21 wrote:It looks to me that you think you should prepare yourself for every accents possible in the eventuality you will somehow, one day encounter such a speaker.

No, I will only train myself to listen to the accents I care about. But I usually try acquire a good understanding of one accent first: spreading your efforts too much at the beginning is not very helpful, in my opinion.
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olim21
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Re: Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

Postby olim21 » Wed Mar 28, 2018 5:31 pm

amardeep wrote:I think you are being unnecessary hostile.


Having reread my post, I think you're right. I let my frustration take over for a minute. I guess that kind of low quality work flooding various fields of research that I try to follow are starting to get to me.

Sorry about that.

I hope nobody felt attacked, I was careful to limit my snarky comments to the work without pointing anyone in particular.

amardeep wrote: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.


Yes, I don't expect everyone to understand: we can't know everything. What I do expect however is that researchers study the relevant fields before drawing conclusions out of nowhere. I except them to base their explanations on preexisting strong knowledge. Otherwise this is just sand, and someone can come along, poke a hole somewhere and everything collapses. We can't build on it which is the all point of doing research in the first place.

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reineke
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Re: Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

Postby reineke » Wed Mar 28, 2018 5:56 pm



A Guide to the Perplexed: How to Identify Pseudo-Linguistic Articles in the Media

"1. Who is it by? While it is true that in science ideas are more important than authority, scholars are still expected to get some training in, or at least know a fair amount about, their subject. Thus, physicists generally limit their scholarly writings to physics, evolutionary biologists to biological evolution, and economists to economics—but everyone, it often seems, somehow feels qualified to write about language... Like any other scholarly subject, language presents a multifaceted, intricate and sometimes convoluted set of problems, the understanding of which requires a certain amount of intellectual immersion, disciplined study, and terminological precision..."

"Despite what many non-linguists think, speaking a language is neither a sufficient nor a necessary condition for being able to study it scientifically or even talk about it rigorously and cogently. Yet opining about linguistics issues, and making whimsical and unsubstantiated claims about them in the process, is a popular, even fashionable, pursuit among many scholars in other fields as well as lay persons."

"2. Conflating concepts and misrepresenting theories. Like cardsharps who cheat at poker, authors of pseudo-linguistic articles often perform tricks to take advantage of less-informed readers. Among the most popular sleights of hand are conflating fundamental—and fundamentally distinct—concepts and misrepresenting theories, both those of their opponents and their own..."

"Another way in which pseudo-linguists are often less than honest is misrepresentation: making the theories of their opponents sound silly while making their own seem more promising than they actually are."

"3. Not engaging with linguistic data. A third common symptom of an ill-conceived and badly written piece on language is the authors’ avoidance of actual linguistic data."

http://www.languagesoftheworld.info/unc ... z4Bg3OHCUR
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olim21
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Re: Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

Postby olim21 » Wed Mar 28, 2018 6:52 pm

Serpent wrote:but I couldn't process the language fast enough otherwise.


That's something learners often think: they are too slow. That's why we see slow-speed podcast and such. I don't think that's true, though. I see slow-speed audio as a way to recreate the advantage you have while reading, without reading. That's maybe something I would recommend to someone who doesn't like to read. But I don't think it's as efficient. If you can read it's better to read.

Serpent wrote:Historically, people have always learned languages by speaking.


Yes, but it doesn't mean it's a good way. People used to be illiterate, and baby can't read, so.

Serpent wrote:See Bakunin's posts.


That's the person I was talking about in another post. Yes, I have read Bakunin's posts, I find his method very interesting. He also created some good resources for it. However I would not use it, because of the drawbacks: you can't learn by yourself, it's way too slow and way to boring. The first one being a dealbreaker.

Serpent wrote:My reading speed is atrocious even in L1.


That bad? Of course if you don't like reading, I guess it makes no sense for you to read more. ;-)

Serpent wrote: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?


Hum, not sure what to think of that.

Serpent wrote: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).


That's what I tried to explain: listening is the medium, there is very little to learn from it, mainly pronunciation and prosody. While the rest is learned because of understanding. Without understanding you don't learn. So when we are at the beginning our understanding is in general too low to just listen. We need a way to lower the bar. One big advantage of reading is that, with the right tools, you can read what you want from day one.

Now, for related languages it's easy to fool ourselves in thinking we understand more than we actually do. Because we don't always realize that we understand through another language instead of understanding natively. It would be my case for example as a French speaker if I chose to learn Italian or Spanish. I can reconstruct a lot of the meaning when reading but that's not the same as understanding natively. When I listen to those languages I don't understand. They just sound familiar and I can recognize some words here and there, but nothing more.

Serpent wrote: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)


I guess we are in preference territory, now.

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olim21
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Re: Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

Postby olim21 » Wed Mar 28, 2018 9:46 pm

reineke wrote:I've shared my personal story. I have also mentioned plenty of times that I prefer to learn by ear.


I have no problem with that at all. If you read my answers to Serpent, you will see that we talked about Bakunin. Despite the fact that his method is almost at the exact opposite of mine, I mainly have positive comments about it. Because it's conceivable, I can understand how it works, it matches with what is known about how the brain works.

My reaction was about what you stated in one of your post: "Listening is by far the most important skill-set,", or your idea of "being naturally wired to acquire languages through listening,". All of that if not true for sure. Then I started to poke holes into the common misconceptions about the decoding, parsing, matching paradigm which is just a mask to hide the big reasoning holes. And give us a false sense of understanding without explaining anything about how it's supposed to work.

reineke wrote:At the same time I have tried to inform readers of the views by the leading experts in the field.


This is good thing. Maybe the realization is not optimal. My problem is that can't always tell to what you are responding, I'm not always sure if you are the one writing, or just quoting someone else. And most importantly you rarely share your opinion, why?

Why not post the link to the relevant page instead of quoting big chunk of it. Then a short summary if you feel like it, and then your thoughts on the matter. This way we could have real discussions. Isn't what a forum is for in the first place?

I guess what I'm trying to say is why so much reticence to discuss? I don't get it.

reineke wrote:Unlike my critics I do not pretend to understand the human brain


Who is? What I said is that, I think, we already have every thing we need to explain most of it, but are hesitant to cross the line because of what it tells us about ourself as a consciousness created by a brain. And also many experts can't see the connections because their knowledge, despite being deep, is too narrow.

What I do know for sure however, is to understand language learning you need to connect it to what we know about the brain and what we know about the world in general. You can't explain it in isolation.

reineke wrote: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.


I think it looks worse than it is. Continue to discuss you will see that everything is fine. You can't expect everyone to agree with you all the time. I read your posts, I even voted for some of them, because I thought they were interesting in some way.

reineke wrote: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.


I'm sorry I stepped on your dreams, it was not intentional.

Now if you want me to go away, just tell me, I'll go away. There are plenty of other threads.

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Serpent
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Re: Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

Postby Serpent » Wed Mar 28, 2018 9:55 pm

That's something learners often think: they are too slow. That's why we see slow-speed podcast and such. I don't think that's true, though.
Why?
I see slow-speed audio as a way to recreate the advantage you have while reading, without reading.
What about the learners who can understand a lot in writing but still need those podcasts?
That bad? Of course if you don't like reading, I guess it makes no sense for you to read more. ;-)
I actually like reading, I'm just slow. Please avoid making assumptions.
One big advantage of reading is that, with the right tools, you can read what you want from day one.
Have you heard of the LR method?
When I listen to those languages I don't understand. They just sound familiar and I can recognize some words here and there, but nothing more.
That's still a good starting point. If you can find something you want to understand and put in the hours, you're going to understand more. And depending on the language combination the similarities may well be clearer in the spoken language.
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Kraut
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Re: Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

Postby Kraut » Wed Mar 28, 2018 11:10 pm

@olim 21
That's what I tried to explain: listening is the medium, there is very little to learn from it, mainly pronunciation and prosody. While the rest is learned because of understanding. Without understanding you don't learn. So when we are at the beginning our understanding is in general too low to just listen. We need a way to lower the bar. One big advantage of reading is that, with the right tools, you can read what you want from day one.


The basic mistake you are making when you insist on your "learning" and "understanding" via "listening" or "reading" is that you do not know what the concept of "linguistic sign" with its two facets of what Saussure calls "signifiant" and "signifié" mean, nor do you have a grasp of what a "phoneme" does in a language system.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signified_and_signifier
Last edited by Kraut on Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Bex
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Re: Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

Postby Bex » Thu Mar 29, 2018 6:30 am

Ok, firstly this is a great thread and extremely interesting.
olim21 wrote:That's what I tried to explain: listening is the medium, there is very little to learn from it, mainly pronunciation and prosody. While the rest is learned because of understanding. Without understanding you don't learn. So when we are at the beginning our understanding is in general too low to just listen. We need a way to lower the bar. One big advantage of reading is that, with the right tools, you can read what you want from day one.

I just wanted to add that my language learning experience does not reflect this, I still cannot read in my L2 but I can listen and understand.

Edit: spelling.
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olim21
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Re: Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

Postby olim21 » Sat Mar 31, 2018 3:42 am

Kraut wrote:The basic mistake you are making when you insist on your "learning" and "understanding" via "listening" or "reading" is that you do not know what the concept of "linguistic sign" with its two facets of what Saussure calls "signifiant" and "signifié" mean,


After reading the wikipedia article you linked (the French version is more interesting in this case), I don't see what you are trying to show me.

First of all I already new about it, this is something I read (some of it at least) a long time ago when I was in school. So even if I did not really think about it, or used the vocabulary you expected, I am quite familiar with the concept. And I don't know if this is because I read it then forgot or if I am missing something, but it seems obvious, it didn't even occurred to me that anyone would think differently.

And as far as I can tell it fits very nicely with my own conception of the world.

So, please can you explain more?

Kraut wrote:nor do you have a grasp of what a "phoneme" does in a language system


What? Please explain that too.

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olim21
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Re: Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn

Postby olim21 » Sat Mar 31, 2018 4:17 am

Bex wrote:I just wanted to add that my language learning experience does not reflect this, I still cannot read in my L2 but I can listen and understand.


It would be very nice if you could elaborate a little. What language are we talking about? Is it Spanish? What are you trying to read with what kind of level? And more importantly what is preventing you from reading? For example if someone makes you a transcript of something you can understand when you listen, can you read it then? Why not?

And even if you can't read, which I find a little puzzling but OK, it's not in contradiction with what I have been saying. My position is: if you trained properly your pronunciation at the beginning (and check from time to time to make sure you haven't slipped), read a massive amount of text (how massive, I'm not sure exactly but let's say 5 million words maybe less), then you should be able to listen and understand without too much trouble. I'm talking about understanding natively or close. From there you will still have to get used to the few differences between the written language and the spoken language and familiarize yourself with the relevant accents for your situation. You also are ready to easily learn to speak and write.

So you see my position is not in conflict with what you described.

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