Listening vs Comprehension (and the case against TV) [interesting article]

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Listening vs Comprehension (and the case against TV) [interesting article]

Postby NoManches » Wed Apr 19, 2017 11:53 am

I came across this article and found it interesting, even though it discredits (to some degree) my current belief that watching thousands of hours of television will improve my language skills.

Any thoughts on this article? Do you agree/disagree?

http://www.lookingforwords.com/listenin ... rehension/
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Re: Listening vs Comprehension (and the case against TV) [interesting article]

Postby blaurebell » Wed Apr 19, 2017 12:06 pm

Watching all of Star Trek was the basis for my listening comprehension in English, all of Stargate for listening comprehension in Spanish, all of Buffy for French. I usually develop my listening comprehension like this: Dubbed series with TL subtitles -> Dubbed series without subtitles -> native radio / podcasts if bearable -> native series -> native movies. The key is that input needs to be comprehensible and if visual cues help in the beginning, that's actually a great help. However, I usually watch while cooking, so with lots of background noise and partly not even looking. As soon as I can I integrate listening only I do because it helps to get out of the comfort zone of relying too much on visual cues. So, I agree with the article, but believe that TV helps anyway.
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Re: Listening vs Comprehension (and the case against TV) [interesting article]

Postby emk » Wed Apr 19, 2017 12:53 pm

NoManches wrote:Any thoughts on this article? Do you agree/disagree?

I'm not impressed by the article. It think it makes a few good points, but that the net effect will be to discourage intermediate students from watching TV, when TV is one of the most powerful tools they have.

I'm speaking here as somebody who took his French listening skills from poor (could understand 40% of the "Facile" French podcasts) to pretty solid (could channel surf and enjoy well over half of native TV) with the use of TV, and who had ~40% comprehension of unfamiliar episodes of Korra within 100 hours of starting Spanish.

  • Input needs to be more-or-less comprehensible. I think Victor over at the Mandarin Experiment pretty conclusively demonstrated that learning from incomprehensible TV (with no personal interaction, like you'd get in real life) is ridiculously slow. If you don't have at least 40% comprehension, find something easier or more familiar.
  • Game of Thrones is probably a poor choice below C1 level. Even the dubbed French version is one of the harder series on French television! Choose something fun and easy.
  • If you don't have at least 3 seasons of a single easy series, and the ability to binge-watch multiple episodes every day, you may not have great results.
  • The article claims, "The short version: to efficiently improve basic listening skills, students need comprehensible input without contextual visual support." Personally, I'd argue that "contextual visual support" is the whole point.
I know language learners in real life, too. In my experience, intermediate language learners who binge-watch TV tend to progress by leaps and bounds. The article, on the other hand, recommends:

The short version: to efficiently improve basic listening skills, students need comprehensible input without contextual visual support, self-checking with written materials, and repetition*.

But this is intensive listening. I did extremely little intensive listening, and yet somehow watching semi-comprehensible TV and reading SF novels improved my listening massively.

Of course, I'm in favor of reading alongside TV, preferably in huge amounts as well. :-)
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Re: Listening vs Comprehension (and the case against TV) [interesting article]

Postby aaleks » Wed Apr 19, 2017 12:57 pm

All I can say, I’ve used tv-series and news as a learning tool and it hasn’t done any harm to me :) . In fact, listening is my strongest skill in English.
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Re: Listening vs Comprehension (and the case against TV) [interesting article]

Postby Serpent » Wed Apr 19, 2017 1:15 pm

Over the course of a summer, students watched 2-minute segments of an English-language movie
Ugh :roll: :roll: :roll:

Intensive listening is helpful but not essential. And you really don't need to get the most out of every 2 min segment (unless you're learning a rare language obv).
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Re: Listening vs Comprehension (and the case against TV) [interesting article]

Postby smallwhite » Wed Apr 19, 2017 2:03 pm

emk wrote:
The short version: to efficiently improve basic listening skills, students need comprehensible input without contextual visual support, self-checking with written materials, and repetition*.

But this is intensive listening. I did extremely little intensive listening, and yet somehow watching semi-comprehensible TV and reading SF novels improved my listening massively.

The article was not trying to claim that only intensive listening works and that extensive listening does not work. I spot the word "efficiently" and I think that's the key.
The article wrote:If your goal is to relax and maybe pick up a few words here or there, then watching a show with or without subtitles seems like a great choice. However, if your goal is to effectively improve your listening and linguistic skills, then there are better means to optimize your time spent studying.
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Re: Listening vs Comprehension (and the case against TV) [interesting article]

Postby reineke » Wed Apr 19, 2017 2:31 pm

Listen to voices from smaller countries where people watch foreign television with interest. These guys were not "inputting" while jumping up and down in their seats and yelling "are we there yet?"

"According to Albanians I met during my studies in Pisa, the most important reason why they can speak Italian is that they are able to watch Italian Television from Albania, therefore allowing them to pick up the language since they are children.

Also, many dream about studying in universities in Italy, and this may enhance the motivation for studying and speaking Italian."

Giancarlo

"Honestly in my personal exp, I loved watching cartoons and the Italian ones on Rai & Canale5 were nicer than the Albanian ones. We had just come out of communism and Italian TV was the first approach with the outside world. The rest is history… :)"

Eri

" And the answer is Dragon Ball Z | Goku. Italia Uno"

Elvis

"... after democracy took place in Albania, Italian channels were the hit thing here up until the 2000s. Every kid of the 90s would watch the shows. "

Comment: According to the General Assembly of the Italian Language in the World the levels of Italian proficiency actually dropped in Albania after the switch to digital broadcasting. I dare say that Albania had more qualified Italian teachers in 2016 than it did in the 1990s. See also "learning without the Internet and other distractions."

"In my opinion, every single person has her / his own way to learn English. For me, the best way has always been watching films, cartoons, tv shows and certain tv channels like BBC or Sky news. Since I was little I watched cartoon network and despite I didn't understood a word I kept watching and now I see that it was a good thing to do :) About the films, in Portugal none of the films are translated but instead we have subtitles. That is a very good thing.. "

"Hello! My name is Alexandra. I believe that “there are two things that define you: Your patience when you have NOTHING, and your attitude when you have EVERYTHING.” (Unknown author)...

When I started, I had little knowledge of english language (we didn't learn english in school. I knew english from CartoonNetwork channel – many people find that to be funny, I guess it is) but that didn't stoped me. Fast forward in time, in 2009 I've started international freelancing and in March 2010 I got hired by a Marketing Company from USA, working remote. The story is in progress.."

http://www.socialpsychology.org/member/vezure

"Italian and French translator Anna Minoli learned English by watching undubbed versions of her favorite movies, while Croatian translator Ivan Stamenković suddenly realized he could speak English in fifth grade, after years of watching the Cartoon Network without subtitles. "
http://blog.ed.ted.com/2016/01/19/how-t ... anslators/

What happened to CN?

" I grew up watching CN too, and i also learned fluent english by watching it (i'm romanian), but nowdays almost all the good shows are off to the advantage of stuff like B-daman (wtf?) or Transformer (god i h8 that...it'z zo lame) And besides...now it's TRANSLATED into Romanian... "

" yes :( I grew up watching CN, that's how I learned most of my english vocabulary... I remember I used to be completely pissed when the channel ended and another one started, TNT I believe.. "

http://forum.deviantart.com/devart/gene ... 0#comments

" I learned most of my early english from TV. I grew up in the Netherlands, speaking Frisian at home and Dutch at school. At the time dutch tv did not offer much programming aimed at children, the more interesting cartoons to be found on cable tv were on english language channels. I would tape Transformers episodes and watch them over and over. Later on I started consuming other media (video games + video game magazines, american comics), so that by the time they started teaching english to me at school I was already relatively fluent."

A generation of Romanian kids learned English from Cartoon Network

https://steemit.com/life/@ionescur/a-ge ... on-network

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"I went into the TV room of our dormitory, and I spent the next several hours watching cartoons: “Die Retter Der Erde”, “Die Simpsons”, and “Die Familie Feuerstein.” Around twelve o’clock, I ran back to my room, during a commercial, and made a stack of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, with the crusts cut off. Accompanied by a glass of chocolate milk I ate my sandwiches while watching shows for big people, like “Raumschiff Enterprise”, “Ein Käfig voller Helden”, and “Unbekannte Dimensionen.”

I watched till I thought my retinas would burnout. It was a struggle, but I knew this was the price I would have to pay if I wanted to learn German.

Before I knew it, night had come, and I was still glued to the TV. I wasn’t understanding everything, in fact, I probably understood less than 20%, but I knew that I was learning. So, the next morning, instead of going back to the university, the site of my defeat, I stayed home and watched TV. I set up a rigid schedule for myself of watching TV and working out (to burn off the Captain Crunch) and I stuck to it. Over the next several weeks, I saw my listening and speaking grow by leaps and bounds.
. I would watch “The Godfather,” “Simpsons,” “Star Trek,” — anything I enjoyed watching I watched again in German. German students would come in the TV room and ask me “Did you understand all of that.”

“No.”

“You shouldn’t watch that.”

“Why, are you going to ship me off to a camp?” Sometimes I actually said things like this as a way of getting Germans to leave me alone. Sometimes, I felt like practicing my speaking, so I continued the argument. It was like a free German conversation lesson, the cost of which was a little anger.

“Aren’t you worried that you don’t understand everything?” asked the German.

“Why? Do we have a test?”

“You shouldn’t be watching TV and reading things you don’t understand.”

“But if I only read things I understand, I won’t learn anything. Besides, it would be really boring because I would only be reading children’s books.”

“But ‘The Simpsons’ is a cartoon. Cartoons are for children.”

“Don’t say, that!”

http://www.hackwriters.com/CaptainCrunch.htm

INFLUENCE OF CARTOON NETWORK
ON THE ACQUISITION OF AMERICAN ENGLISH DURING CHILDHOOD

Sorry about the caps

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Re: Listening vs Comprehension (and the case against TV) [interesting article]

Postby emk » Wed Apr 19, 2017 2:55 pm

smallwhite wrote:The article was not trying to claim that only intensive listening works and that extensive listening does not work. I spot the word "efficiently" and I think that's the key.
The article wrote:If your goal is to relax and maybe pick up a few words here or there, then watching a show with or without subtitles seems like a great choice. However, if your goal is to effectively improve your listening and linguistic skills, then there are better means to optimize your time spent studying.

This gets back to my whole argument about "cheating and consolidating". Intensively listening to a 2-minute segment of a movie, repeatedly and using a transcript, would fall under the category that I referred to as "cheating"—you're using every tool at your disposal to boost your comprehension. And that's great, as far as it goes.

But once you've reached B1 or B2, learning using purely extensive methods is like trying to drain the ocean with a spoon. You can listen to a lot of 2-minute clips with a transcript and not see much overall progress (I certainly tried). Laboriously deciphering 2-minute clips gives you lots of "cheating" but virtually no "consolidating". You need lots of easier, N+1 input to actually burn in the relevant skills and make them second nature.

If you pick an easy TV series and watch 2 or 3 episodes a night for several weeks, you can see a ridiculously dramatic improvement (especially if you've extensively read a couple books). Do it with, say, 5 series over the course of several months, and you'll probably be able to understand most native TV. Quite a few people on this forum have tried this, with great results.

I think the easy availability of interesting target language TV series is one of the greatest victories for language learning in our time, and that students should be encouraged to watch as much as they can.
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Re: Listening vs Comprehension (and the case against TV) [interesting article]

Postby smallwhite » Wed Apr 19, 2017 3:34 pm

emk wrote:
Laboriously deciphering 2-minute clips...
TV series..

Both sound like torture. I need a third option :|
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Re: Listening vs Comprehension (and the case against TV) [interesting article]

Postby blaurebell » Wed Apr 19, 2017 5:10 pm

I've never done any intensive listening, but I have watched some films over and over simply because I liked them so much and at some point I knew every single line by heart. Matrix and Fight Club for example. With the next movie I'd be lost again though because all the voices would be different and the game would begin all over. Getting my hands on a box set of Star Trek TNG DVDs was the breakthrough for my English. I watched them all in German and then because I didn't want it to end I re-watched them all in English. I was supposed to be studying for my A-Levels and I binge-watched Sci Fi series instead. Then I watched Voyager, DS9. Later I continued with Battlestar Galactica, the new Enterprise. Sex and the City, Gilmore Girls. Imagine, Gilmore Girls, they speak so fast and almost every line is half a joke! When I watched that and realised that I understand all of it I felt like I was 3 meters tall! 8-) My parents always hated that I watched so much TV. Funny that binge watching TV was the key to academic success for me :D

Sadly TV isn't quite as fun a method for all languages. Some languages have great series - e.g. English, French -, but I found Italian TV unwatchable and even the more watchable Iberian Spanish series are as close as it gets to torture. I can't bear Mexican telenovelas either. I have to force myself to watch those sorts of things for the sake of my listening comprehension. I guess learning can't always be fun.
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