Listening: The (Lower) Intermediate Plateau

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kulaputra
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Re: Listening: The (Lower) Intermediate Plateau

Postby kulaputra » Tue Jun 19, 2018 5:43 pm

NoManches wrote:I think the problem is when people think they can learn a language by jumping right info French radio shows for example thinking that they will somehow eventually learn French from doing so.


I believe the article I posted is that listening to material even with 0% comprehension, does, in fact, help.

NoManches wrote:Just want to make sure we are on the same page. I guess the question is: what level of comprehension do you need with a particular piece of audio for your listening to be "extensive" rather than "binge" listening to material that is not so comprehensible.


It's not about the level of comprehension, it's about the volume. With reading, however, reading extensively below 70% comprehension or thereabouts can be painful, so I don't recommend it. But listening doesn't have to be, if you pick the right materials.
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zKing
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Re: Listening: The (Lower) Intermediate Plateau

Postby zKing » Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:38 pm

kulaputra wrote:I believe the article I posted is that listening to material even with 0% comprehension, does, in fact, help.

Yes, but the question is how much? And what is the opportunity cost of that activity? Is there something significantly more effective that could be done instead?

kulaputra wrote:It's not about the level of comprehension, it's about the volume. With reading, however, reading extensively below 70% comprehension or thereabouts can be painful, so I don't recommend it. But listening doesn't have to be, if you pick the right materials.

I want to underscore the word "volume" above, as I usually agree with arguments about language learning that are based on that principle. And I'm curious about the second sentence of why you say it is less painful to extensively listen than to extensively read semi-understood content. I am guessing you are really comparing extensive reading (which basically requires 100% attention) against background listening of audio while doing something else, i.e. with partial attention... which I think is apples to oranges. Otherwise I don't see why 100% attention extensive listening is less painful vs 100% attention extensive reading.

I'd like to point out that we've seen far too many instances of people trying to "just listen" their way to fluency from very low levels of understanding with little to show for it in the end. To be honest, I've watched hours and hours of Cantonese videos, some with L1 subs, some with L2 subs, some with nothing at all and at my lower levels, I didn't pick up much. Almost all of it seemed like a wave of slurred syllables.

But I do wholeheartedly agree with, and actively use, background listening of audio while doing other things like driving or eating lunch as this is an extra activity that helps while costing little time that could otherwise be more effective. Even with a small % of understanding, it 'helps'.

I also understand that when someone is burned out from intensive studies, it's always nice to kick back for a while and just listen/watch some fun content, even if understanding is small or *gasp* even use L1 subtitles and just try to keep one ear on the audio. I do this too.

And for higher understanding levels (75-80%+?), gained either by intensive study or related languages, extensive listening/reading is definitely an enjoyable and effective path to continue to build your skills to high levels.

But IMO it is wasted time to do 100% focused extensive listening of barely understood content, when you could be doing intensive activities and you have the energy to do so.

When people use the word "volume" or, like a post above said, "12 hours" a day... I think they really mean just some partial attention background listening. And this I think is often way overestimated for many people. For me there is no way to have anything close to 12 hours a day in background listening. Yes, I work in a private office and in theory I could have Cantonese playing in my ears all day. But a) 99% of the time I couldn't pay the least bit of attention to it. b) This would actually be distracting to my work. I can't even listen to music with English lyrics when I'm working as it messes with my concentration. Also, given that I enjoy interacting with my wife, I don't want to walk around in the evenings and weekends with earbuds in my ears all the time. So I can get maybe 1-2 hours of background listening each day without it eating time better spent on something else or distracting from something more important. But, for the most part, I do try to use 'dead time' to extensively listen. But to me, this is a tiny side dish of my language learning activities, doesn't add up to a whole lot of extra hours, and only has a small effect on my skills.

Don't get me wrong, as my listening level gets higher, I absolutely will be switching more and more to extensive activities... with glee. But this is about the right tool at the right time. Someone pointed out emk's model earlier, and right now, to be effective with my time, I need a lot more "cheating" and can only do a little bit of "consolidating." That ratio will change as my level improves.

Edit: I should add that the suggestions to find some 'easy' content are good. I've looked before without much luck, but I think I might be at a level now where some anime or programs for kids might be above a useful threshold of understanding for extensive work. But I need to balance this with interest level. I won't last long watching Peppa Pig in Cantonese. (which I did for a little bit :lol:)
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kulaputra
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Re: Listening: The (Lower) Intermediate Plateau

Postby kulaputra » Tue Jun 19, 2018 8:05 pm

zKing wrote:
kulaputra wrote:I believe the article I posted is that listening to material even with 0% comprehension, does, in fact, help.

Yes, but the question is how much? And what is the opportunity cost of that activity? Is there something significantly more effective that could be done instead?


That's my point though. Listening has a comparative advantage over most other language learning activities because you can listen while engaging in all kinds of other activities. You can listen to Canto-Pop while in the shower, turn on the radio while you're shaving, while you're just walking or commuting, etc.

zKing wrote:I want to underscore the word "volume" above, as I usually agree with arguments about language learning that are based on that principle. And I'm curious about the second sentence of why you say it is less painful to extensively listen than to extensively read semi-understood content.


That seems self-evident. Trying to read a book you can't follow well is tough, but you can listen to (for example, music) without understanding it well and still enjoy it.

Not just music either! Rewatching movies you've already seen, dubbed into your TL, can be quite powerful in my experience. I'me a huge LOTR nut and every time I've rewatched the movies in a language I've picked up a considerable amount, because:

1. I've already seen the movies so many times I'm abundantly familiar with the plot and even down to individual lines spoken by the actors in some segments
2. Over the course of the ~10 hours of all three films, there's a lot of repetition. A poor man's SRS, basically.

So for example in French the first time I watched the series I started with 10% comprehension but by the end I was up close to 50% comprehension of the series. And I found that random French sentences were swirling around in my head during the day and I actually had an idea of what they meant.

zKing wrote:I am guessing you are really comparing extensive reading (which basically requires 100% attention) against background listening of audio while doing something else, i.e. with partial attention... which I think is apples to oranges. Otherwise I don't see why 100% attention extensive listening is less painful vs 100% attention extensive reading.


Ok, suppose you eat one apple. You really like apples, so you like eating that apple. Now you eat ten apples. Now you eat a hundred apples. No matter how much you enjoy apples, sooner or later it's gonna be too much. A person can only eat so many apples before he gets sick, even if she's the most fiendishly apple-addicted person in the world. At some point, you're better off switching to oranges.

Extensive reading with poor comprehension requires a lot more energy, is exhausting, and requires full attention. Extensive listening doesn't require these things necessarily. That's the bottom line.

zKing wrote:I'd like to point out that we've seen far too many instances of people trying to "just listen" their way to fluency from very low levels of understanding with little to show for it in the end.


Who, exactly?

zKing wrote:To be honest, I've watched hours and hours of Cantonese videos, some with L1 subs, some with L2 subs, some with nothing at all and at my lower levels, I didn't pick up much. Almost all of it seemed like a wave of slurred syllables.


Why would you expect otherwise? The first step to understanding a language is not understanding a language. If you did understand the content, then you wouldn't need to listen in the first place, you'd already know Cantonese, and we wouldn't be having this conversation.

zKing wrote:But I do wholeheartedly agree with, and actively use, background listening of audio while doing other things like driving or eating lunch as this is an extra activity that helps while costing little time that could otherwise be more effective. Even with a small % of understanding, it 'helps'.

I also understand that when someone is burned out from intensive studies, it's always nice to kick back for a while and just listen/watch some fun content, even if understanding is small or *gasp* even use L1 subtitles and just try to keep one ear on the audio. I do this too.

And for higher understanding levels (75-80%+?), gained either by intensive study or related languages, extensive listening/reading is definitely an enjoyable and effective path to continue to build your skills to high levels.


Precisely.

zKing wrote:But IMO it is wasted time to do 100% focused extensive listening of barely understood content, when you could be doing intensive activities and you have the energy to do so.


Perhaps, but remember that OP said he was lacking energy already from intensive work due to all the different programs he was using.
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Iha śāriputra: rūpaṃ śūnyatā śūnyataiva rūpaṃ; rūpān na pṛthak śūnyatā śunyatāyā na pṛthag rūpaṃ; yad rūpaṃ sā śūnyatā; ya śūnyatā tad rūpaṃ.

--Heart Sutra

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zKing
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Re: Listening: The (Lower) Intermediate Plateau

Postby zKing » Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:14 pm

kulaputra wrote:Trying to read a book you can't follow well is tough, but you can listen to (for example, music) without understanding it well and still enjoy it.

Music I get, I agree, fun stuff. (Cantonese has its own special issues with music lyrics, but that isn't important) And video content you already know in some way (e.g. dubbed L1 movies), OK... but then you are using focused time to point your eyeballs at a screen, that isn't background listening. So we'd be talking about adding language learning time or replacing intensive studies.

kulaputra wrote:Over the course of the ~10 hours of all three films...

There's the rub. Some of us can't spend 10 hours watching movies in another language without sacrificing something more important.
Occasionally I can find a movie in Cantonese my wife would like to watch, and we do. But generally we don't watch a lot of TV or movies.
Personally, I need language learning activities that fit within 1-2 hours per day of focus time (absolutely maximum) or bits of dead time when I'm driving or maybe eating lunch.

kulaputra wrote:Extensive reading with poor comprehension requires a lot more energy, is exhausting, and requires full attention. Extensive listening doesn't require these things necessarily. That's the bottom line.

I'm not sure I entirely agree with that, except in the case where the listening has other accompanying channels of input, i.e. music or video. Video requires attention. But I agree music is good for background listening.

kulaputra wrote:
zKing wrote:I'd like to point out that we've seen far too many instances of people trying to "just listen" their way to fluency from very low levels of understanding with little to show for it in the end.

Who, exactly?

I'd have to take the time to do a search, but I assume I'm not the only one who saw these threads appear regularly on HTLAL?

kulaputra wrote:Why would you expect otherwise? The first step to understanding a language is not understanding a language. If you did understand the content, then you wouldn't need to listen in the first place, you'd already know Cantonese, and we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Umm, yeah, I get that. I didn't listen for a couple of hours and give up. The point is, it not only started that way... it stayed that way. After a LOT of listening.

kulaputra wrote:Perhaps, but remember that OP said he was lacking energy already from intensive work due to all the different programs he was using.

I was the original poster. And I didn't say I was lacking energy, in a nut shell I said it was frustrating that progress was slow... but I knew that was just the way it is. And I'm now saying that replacing my intensive listening with extensive listening to content which I don't understand well would make progress even slower. And I'm saying that there isn't some magical dozens of extra hours that appear if I did more extensive listening... it would need to eat more time which doesn't work for me.

I appreciate the feedback, I really do, but I think our situations may be different, particular how we can spend our time. I have actually tried what you suggest. It wasn't, and still isn't, all that effective for my level in my current TL (Cantonese). I will say that Italian was an entirely different animal. After only 2-3 months of studying, and given all the cognates, my understanding quickly jumped north of 50% for a lot of content and I switched to extensive activities very early.

As I said previously, I will definitely be making that leap for Cantonese once it makes sense.
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kulaputra
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Re: Listening: The (Lower) Intermediate Plateau

Postby kulaputra » Wed Jun 20, 2018 3:15 am

Sorry I got this thread confused with another thread also about Cantonese. In any case, I feel my advice still largely applies, but if you feel otherwise, feel free to disregard what I've said.
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Iha śāriputra: rūpaṃ śūnyatā śūnyataiva rūpaṃ; rūpān na pṛthak śūnyatā śunyatāyā na pṛthag rūpaṃ; yad rūpaṃ sā śūnyatā; ya śūnyatā tad rūpaṃ.

--Heart Sutra

Please correct any of my non-native languages, if needed!

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Re: Listening: The (Lower) Intermediate Plateau

Postby reineke » Tue Jun 26, 2018 4:50 am

"We have tons of data from ER but almost nothing for EL. This seems totally weird and unbalanced to me... Everything we know about ER's benefits (for vocab learning, for overall motivation, for language consolidation, to build fluency etc etc etc) need to be confirmed (or rejected) for EL. All the canonical work done in ER needs to be mirrored with EL. E.g.

What's the uptake of vocabulary from EL?
What known/unknown word ratio facilitates this?
How much listening is needed?
How does one's EL ability develop?
What prevents/ encourages comprehension in fluent listening?
How do students segment the sound stream in EL?"

Rob Waring

This researcher advocates a very high comprehensibility percentage for extensive listening activities.

Are there studies that support the value of early listening? Sure but they're technical and deal with things like phonotactics and statistical learning. You'll need to build phonological, lexical, and structural knowledge in your target language and that'll take time. Intensive activities should not interfere with your ability to chill out with native resources.
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Re: Listening: The (Lower) Intermediate Plateau

Postby Expugnator » Mon Jul 02, 2018 1:26 pm

I was going to refrain from posting as the situation with Cantonese is unique and my transitional resources, like audiobooks with text, won't apply. But then you mentioned cartoons and I think you might make a better use of them.

My experience with background listening is that it doesn't teach you comprehension from the lower levels but it's effective for consolidating and for learning aural-awareness of the language, segmentation and the likes.i had good results with background listening to French and Georgian, to the extent that my listening skills in Georgian are even with my reading skills, i.e. I usually miss what I lack in terms of vocabulary anyway, or I might even be luckier and understand more from audio thanks to intonation and natural segmentation.

Now with Russian I started watching cartoons that supposedly have easy vocabulary, but they helped a lot in terms of automaticity. When I started some four months ago, If I picked the transcripts to those cartoons I'd probably be able to read them extensively, missing one word here and there. Listening is a different ballgame. At first I relied entirely on the subtitles; then I noticed I could listen as well; then I started to listen more as the subtitles crashed; the final cut was being able to understand the cartoon naturally even when it was boring and I'd browse away, keeping only the audio. That is what I like to call listening as second-nature, it's when you are confident about listening on the background the way you do in your L1, zoning in when something more challenging comes up but mostly just following through. That is another level in the road to C2 listening. My experience is when you reach this level with easier audios, your brain and ears feel more readily capable of tackling n+1 or slightly harder audios. That can be done with less effort and less time a day (9 min in my case in Russian) and it helps not only the skill itself but also with confidence.
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