kulaputra wrote:I feel I'm repeating myself so I'm probably going to let this topic be after this post.
You aren't -- you're defending your standpoint and explaining where you're coming from, which makes for a productive discussion.
So if you had the luxury, you would pick material that is more comprehensible to work with over material that was not very comprehensible?
But beginners do not, by definition, have that luxury.
True, but that still leaves open the question of whether or not it is worth just putting more time into active study techniques in preparation for exposing yourself to authentic materials.
You feel that it is:
@zKing Even in a Cat V language like Chinese, someone who listens to very large amounts of Chinese from day 1 alongside whatever course he's working through will learn faster then someone who waits until they reach some acceptable level of comprehension.
... but I don't, and I don't think we'll ever agree on that.
I don't expect 0-60% comprehension in a Cat V language after a few dozen hours of listening.
One thing I didn't ask earlier is what exactly you mean by 60% comprehension. A lot of academics claim that the minimum level of useful comprehension is round about 80%, and by that token, 60% comprehension isn't really comprehension at all.
I understand that the feeling of immediately "getting" something feels very rewarding but I reject the paradigm that just because you don't get that sort of immediate gratification, you're not making progress.
Well that's a pretty fundamental area of disagreement between us then.
To me, language is nothing if not meaningful, and if there's no discernable meaning in something, it's not really language. Furthermore, I kind of feel that the whole "getting it" feeling is just what learning feels like.
Now it may be that there's some benefit to be had at certain times from doing a bit of listening spliced with other stuff, because the brain may pay specific attention to things that it has recently seen -- I note that you said your audiobook listening in French was in parallel with listening to Pimsleur, and it may be that your brain was stimulated by specifically trying to pick out things from the last session or two. In music there have been studies that have shown that listening to a recording of a piece after a rehearsal session acts as effective practice in a way that listening before rehearsal doesn't, and I'm not opposed to the idea that something similar might happen with language, but if it does, I think it's a lot more complicated than just listening to stuff you don't understand. (Which is why I'm happy you're explaining yourself, and not just repeating yourself.)
Besides that, there's still the issue that a lot of people simply stop paying attention when they don't understand, and once your brain stops paying attention, there's little you can do about it. I've given up fighting against my brain, and I try to work with it instead.
Also, this article which has been posted before either here or on HTLAL:
Dr Sulzberger has found that the best way to learn a language is through frequent exposure to its sound patterns—even if you haven’t a clue what it all means.
“However crazy it might sound, just listening to the language, even though you don’t understand it, is critical. A lot of language teachers may not accept that,” he says.
I wouldn't put much stock in Dr Sulzberger's PhD study. The biggest issue with it is that it was never printed in a peer-reviewed journal, and if it was as ground-breaking as he made out in the popular press, it would have made it into one of the academic journals in the 11 years that have passed since his graduation.
On top of that, all we have access to individually is selected quotes from his press releases and media interviews -- he hasn't made the thesis available at all as far as I can see, and if I wanted to read it, I'd have to travel to the opposite side of the world and ask for it in the library at the University of Wellington. However, I remember trying to find out more about it at the time, and the impression that I'd got was that Sulzberger didn't actually investigate the effects of incomprehensible audio exposure, but actually only tried to measure differences in difficulty in learning vocabulary between L2 words (Russian, in his study) that were phonetically possible/near possible in the learners' L1 (English) and ones that were phonetically not possible in L1. If I'm right, the real findings of his study were that the further the pronunciation of a word is from the range of what's possible in L1, the harder it is for the learner. Interesting, if somewhat obvious, and certainly not a headline grabber.
It seems as though his paper highlighted the problem, then he simply asserted incomprehensible listening as a way of familiarising yourself to a new phoneme system. Can it be? One of the problems with learning any new phoneme system is that our brains try to interpret everything based on its current understanding of phonemes, so it automatically discards a lot of the incoming information to try to fit what it hears into existing boxes.