ryanheise's experiment log - Experiment 4 (Japanese)

Continue or start your personal language log here, including logs for challenge participants
User avatar
ryanheise
Orange Belt
Posts: 168
Joined: Tue Jun 04, 2019 3:13 pm
Location: Australia
Languages: English (N), Japanese (beginner)
x 507
Contact:

Re: ryanheise's "experiment" log - Experiment 2 - 4 months later! (Japanese)

Postby ryanheise » Sun Feb 02, 2020 11:24 am

ryanheise wrote:I've been working on a way to track my listening progress. I came up with this scorecard which I fill in while doing a listening session to record how many lapses of concentration I had, or in other words, how many times I had to listen to a segment again:

Image

This is for a session dated 27/09/2019 in which I listened to a portion of 消滅 from 02:40 to 03:37 (57 seconds). The first row of numbers break down how many times I had to repeat any segment of audio, where I used AudioWorkBook to cut the audio up into segments of between 0.5-3 seconds in length. There were 7 segments that required a repeat hearing. Of those 7, there were 2 that required a second hearing. Of those, there was 1 that required a 3rd hearing, and that one also required a 4th hearing. Breaking it down this way strikes a balance between the amount of useful data I can extract out of a listening session, and how much data is actually practical to write down without being too disruptive. (Although I'd welcome any other ideas on what I should be tracking!)


It was 4 months ago when I began this experiment and took the first measurement (yes, it's still going!). Today I decided to go back and take the same measurement on the exact same segment of audio, and the results show a staggering improvement:

Image

Note that I hadn't listened to this particular audio in the intervening time so as to simulate the conditions of the first measurement. I've also been doing the same attention stretching exercises every day for the past 4 months, working my way through different podcasts, although midway through I ended up writing my own program to use instead of WorkAudioBook, since it made it easier to build into it the desired behaviour for my exercises.

I think I'll sign off this experiment as a success. I haven't been able to measure improvement in my language exchanges yet since my language exchange partners have been either busy or on vacation (and I was a bit lazy in finding more exchange partners), but I certainly feel like my listening attention span has improved, and look forward to getting back to language exchange. If not, I'll start planning a new experiment that can be done independently of language exchange.
7 x
My language learning experiment log
Personal homepage

User avatar
ryanheise
Orange Belt
Posts: 168
Joined: Tue Jun 04, 2019 3:13 pm
Location: Australia
Languages: English (N), Japanese (beginner)
x 507
Contact:

Re: ryanheise's experiment log - Experiment 2 - 4 months later! (Japanese)

Postby ryanheise » Tue Feb 11, 2020 9:00 am

Reflections on Experiment 2

I'd like to journal a few of my reflections on this "expanding your listening attention span experiment" while they're still fresh in my mind.

To briefly restate the listening exercise, we use a tool to cut the audio of a podcast or audiobook into short segments of around 3-4 seconds and listen to each on repeat until comfortable before moving on. After reaching the end of the section you want to practice (around 2 minutes in length), we return to the beginning but cut into segments that are twice as long. After that, we again start from the beginning and double the segment length yet again. And so on, each time doubling the segment length. We do 4 rounds in total, and in the first 2 rounds we also verbally recite back the phrase from memory (while the segment length is still short enough).

1. Overcoming the fixation on one missed word

It became apparent early on that the main obstacle to expanding my listening attention span was where I would get fixated on a single word in the sentence that I didn't understand immediately, and meanwhile would miss the next 15 words due to that fixation.

One "micro-skill" I developed to cope with this was to forget about the one word I didn't know, or couldn't bring to memory in that moment, and just keep on listening. Sure, if I were to pause the audio and think on it for 10 seconds, I might remember the word, but what use is that if I miss the next 15 words? I end up understanding much more by removing this fixation.

2. You get more used to it over time

If you stick with this approach, your mind gets used to keeping up with the pace, and in this more relaxed mental state, you ultimately find it easier to bring to mind those words as you hear them. You won't pick up on everything 100% of the time, but worrying about perfection is counterproductive so it's a no brainer to just focus on keeping up with the pace.

3. Chunking is the way

Another "micro-skill" I developed was to perceive the meaning of what is being said in chunks, or groups of words where I hold a slot in my head for the general meaning of that chunk as a whole, rather than remembering the precise individual words. This higher level thinking becomes possible once you get over the individual word fixation since you can then start to notice the structure of the sentence and use that as a scaffold to absorb meaning. In the same way that it is not effective to perceive a word in terms of its individual letters, it is not effective to perceive a chunk in terms of its individual words.

4. Listening to sentences in context is powerful / The "story" technique for improving memory

This could be the most powerful thing that I discovered in the experiment, and it specifically had to do with the fact that I was stretching my listening beyond the sentence unit to two sentences, four sentences and onward.

For most of the experiment, I was studying new audio content with new vocabulary that I had to learn. Of course, there is a plethora of memory techniques advocated by different people for memorising vocabulary, such as mnemonics, roman room, other kinds of association etc. You name it, someone's used it for vocabulary. But merely putting a word or even a sentence into the context of a "story" is a very powerful technique because if you study a story and you can remember what happens next in the story, you can use that context to help you remember the meanings of the words. And as it turns out, remembering a story is something that comes quite naturally. Prior to this experiment, I had been learning sentences in isolation through spaced repetition (Anki-style), but would regularly forget the nuanced meaning of a sentence because I didn't have the context. But with the kind of time stretching experiment I did, I was remembering every nuance on every repetition because every repetition occurred in its original context.

5. Collecting data

I recorded data throughout the experiment and was able to analyse how many reps I typically needed for each of the 4 listening rounds. Typically each successive round would require fewer and fewer reps, dropping off quickly and approaching zero. I hope to use this data to inform a future experiment.

Conclusions

All of the micro skills I developed for listening in the process are probably not novel in any way, but even if more experienced language learners had guided me that X/Y/Z are the skills I needed to work on to increase my listening attention span, I doubt that it would registered in my own head without the actual attention span stretching exercises themselves. This gave me the playground in which I could practice and notice and improve.
10 x
My language learning experiment log
Personal homepage

User avatar
ryanheise
Orange Belt
Posts: 168
Joined: Tue Jun 04, 2019 3:13 pm
Location: Australia
Languages: English (N), Japanese (beginner)
x 507
Contact:

Re: ryanheise's experiment log - Experiment 4 (Japanese)

Postby ryanheise » Fri Mar 13, 2020 1:43 am

Experiment 4

I experimented previously with Poly-glot-a-lot's 1-on-1 language exchange method, and what I loved about it is that he laid out some specific procedures and activities and rules of engagement for how to have a language exchange session that leans towards noticing rather than explaining. Comprehensibility was increased through visual aids, and memory was enhanced through a quick listen/speak cycle.

But for me the limiting factor was the 1-on-1 part. If I could arrange a meetup with at least a couple of speakers of the other language (e.g. it could be 2 native Japanese speakers and 2 Japanese learners), this could open the door to new kinds of language exchange approaches.

What are the problems?

Given my primary way of learning is through listening, when my Japanese language exchange partner asks me a question, what I really would love to hear is how another Japanese person might answer that question before I give my own answer so that I can mimic some of their sentence structure and even intonation, but the 1-on-1 format doesn't give me natural exposure to that sort of interaction. Various other nuances such as the "Ums" and "Ahs" would not occur if the same person were answering their own question rather than a completely different person who reacts authentically on the spot.

What will I try?

I will develop the details as I go, but in general, the goal will be to practice the following types of exchanges.

Pattern 1:

  • Japanese person A asks a question.
  • One or more other Japanese people answer.
  • One or more Japanese learners answer.

Pattern 2:

  • A Japanese learner asks a question.
  • Each Japanese person gives their response.
  • Each Japanese learner gives their response.

Other useful patterns might be discovered through this experimentation process.

Since this is a language exchange, we also do the same in reverse to practice the other language.

In preparation, learners will come with a set of discussion topics they would like to practice using these patterns, and a set of language features (it could be specific words or specific grammatical patterns to practice). These topics and language features could be written on cards or done digitally, and for each round, you pick a topic and a language feature to focus on. The native speakers will ask and answer questions in line with that discussion topic and making use of that language feature, and learners then have an opportunity to mimic the sentence structures and phraseology they hear in their own questions/answers. The idea is to get a quick turnaround time between the learner hearing something and being able to use it.

Note: Although I am really interested to try this out, the main obstacle is how easy or difficult it will be to get a group of language learners together, either via a meetup or some other means. If it turns out not to be practical, I'd be open to trying it with Skype or even try to emulate most of this via text chat.
3 x
My language learning experiment log
Personal homepage


Return to “Language logs”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests