NoManches wrote:I really enjoy reading these responses!
I'd be lying if I told you that I posted this link with no desire for everyone to reassure me of how much television can help with language learning. After reading some of the responses I just got motivation to binge watch as many shows as I possibly can on Netflix.
The author did present some information that sounded legitimate and I'm glad that people were able to counter it with personal experiences.
s_allard wrote:I read the original article and tend to agree with the author. But first, I must disagree with the title of the thread. There is no case against TV.. Even though we may feel that watching native-language television and movies is an enjoyable way to gain exposure to natural language, depending on the listener’s fundamental linguistic skills, the bulk of speech may never move from input to intake.[/i]
What the author does suggest is that periods of intensive study of short segments of audio only are an optimal way to increment true comprehension skills. The operative word here is optimal. I would say the most efficient. So, binge-watching 20 hours of your favorite series with or without subtitles may be very enjoyable - and you will learn something. But in terms of actually improving listening comprehension, a complementary approach might be something along the lines of working systematically and repetitively on a couple of short segments.
This approach is more bottom-up, meaning that it concentrates on looking at the individual words and grammatical details, as opposed to the top-down approach of simply watching the program with all the visual and contextual clues. My individual take on the author's suggestion is a bit different. It involves the following steps:
1. Make transcripts of short segments (2 - 5 minutes) of recordings representing desired kinds of speech. This kind of detailed work is very useful because one is forced to repetitively listen to the recording in order to decipher what is being said. Often one will need the help of a tutor or a native speaker to understand what was actually said. This is also good practice in writing and spelling.
2. Review and research any major elements of grammar and vocabulary. A tutor here may be very useful.
3. Listen to this segment a few times with and without the transcript. My rule of thumb is at least 12 times.
4. Shadow the recording to develop prosody and fluency.
In a short while, it is easy to have a dozen 5-minute segments with a variety of voices, accents, topics and speaking styles. Repeatedly listening of these recordings will, in my opinion, provide a very significant boost in listening comprehension that will make that extensive TV watching all the more enjoyable.
Part of the reasoning behind this approach is that speech is highly redundant linguistically. One episode of a television series will most likely contain all of the grammar and a good part of the vocabulary of all the episodes. Therefore there is something to be said for studying systematically just one episode in detail, especially if one has access to a native speaker.
I have found that watching videos with a native speaker is a very enlightening experience. My question is always: Am I understanding this program like a native speaker would? The answer is always no. There are definitely very different ways of understanding, especially for humor and regional accents.
Spoken speech is highly idiomatic. There can be different levels of meanings and usage of formulaic language that initially escape the non-native.
So, somewhat along the line of what the author of the article suggests, I believe in the didactic value of working intensively with a variety of short recordings in the target language all the while enjoying lots of TV input.
No one can binge watch intensively. If you have time to binge watch there is also no reason why you cannot include some intensive activities. This is especially true if you are not convinced by the extentensive approach, if you are investing serious amounts of time into listening, if your listening is just an exercise anyway, and, finally, if you are not seeing any progress after a reasonable amount of time.
NM, from your log I gather that you dedicate time for vocabulary study and intensive listening activities. You have also reported that listening skills are still your weakest point despite "the thousands of hours of listening". I'm glad to read that you are determined not to become discouraged. However, unless the "thousands of hours" were a rhetorical flourish, you need to take a closer look at your activities and your actual weaknesses. Unless you are judging yourself too harshly maybe intensive, targeted listening is exactly what you need to progress to the next stage.