Suggestions for Listening

Ask specific questions about your target languages. Beginner questions welcome!
Kraut
Black Belt - 1st Dan
Posts: 1667
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:37 pm
Languages: German (N)
French (C)
English (C)
Spanish (A2)
Lithuanian
x 2176

Re: Suggestions for Listening

Postby Kraut » Wed Jan 26, 2022 2:03 pm

like TV series now that there are services like Netflix. I have to say that imo, even though it's always worth watching some there are drawbacks to watching this sort of scripted content exclusively. The main drawback is that it isn't natural speech. It might aim to replicate it, but it lacks many elements of natural speech. Chiefly the way people pause and falter and search for ways of expressing themselves.


The most natural French I have come across is telephone pranks (canulars telephoniques) and I have spent hours transcribing some of them: Pierre Péchin, Thierry le Luron, Jean Yves Lafesse ... You can find tons of them online.

L’appel trop con de Rire & Chansons Compilation #1 | Nouveaux Appels de Farce Tous Les Jours !

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoUJ60hcWf0
3 x

User avatar
Le Baron
Brown Belt
Posts: 1434
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2021 5:14 pm
Location: The scullery
Languages: English (N), Fr, NL, De, Eo, Sranantongo (rusty).
Studying: Es, Indo.
x 3673

Re: Suggestions for Listening

Postby Le Baron » Wed Jan 26, 2022 4:08 pm

golyplot wrote:It's probably worth listening to a nonzero amount of unscripted content, but overall I disagree. Surely the fact that people on TV speak clearly and don't stammer or make mistakes all the times would make it a *better* learning material, even if it weren't for the entertainment aspect.

P.S. As far as French being "a difficult language to unravel aurally" - maybe if you're comparing it to Spanish or something. But as someone who has studied both French and Japanese, I'd say the later was an order of magnitude harder to develop listening comprehension in, despite the fact that Japanese phonology is relatively simple. For native English speakers, similarity to English definitely matters more than anything else.

That's why I said about 50% of listening practise. It's all well and good having people speak in a highly structured way all the time, lots of people go for that. Then all over places like YouTube the same people complain they can't understand natural speech in cases where it is just ordinary people talking, even though they've seen '500 films'. Plenty of people learning English, which is very widespread, complain about this. The structured stuff is excellent for learning and listening and internalising patterns; the real speech is good for knowing what you're going to be getting most of the time in reality. You need both.

French is not hard for me personally to unravel aurally. I had the luck of having a Francophone mother, but from what I've seen over the years the majority of people find it quite hard to unravel compared to the written language. It's not unknown that the high rate of liason, of unstressed and unpronounced letters makes French particularly difficult for a mainstream language. In the case of Japanese this is more about general unfamiliarity (for those people further away from that language at any rate). For a learner within Western Europe or English speakers, the feeling seems to be that the disconnect between reading listening in French is quite high and in that sense it is not very similar to English at all.
3 x
Extensive reading - One book a month for 2022: 5 / 12
Duolingo Latin - for relaxation purposes: 15 / 22
Get to know the tree before you eat the fruit! (African proverb)

User avatar
einzelne
Blue Belt
Posts: 590
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2018 11:33 pm
Languages: Russan (N), English (Working knowledge), French (Reading), German (Reading)
x 1974

Re: Suggestions for Listening

Postby einzelne » Wed Jan 26, 2022 4:34 pm

Le Baron wrote:Then all over places like YouTube the same people complain they can't understand natural speech in cases where it is just ordinary people talking, even though they've seen '500 films'.


Been there, done that. There are lots of factors at play here. Honestly, the problem is not movies per se but the simple fact that 500 films is a ridiculously small number of films to develop good listening skills. It's that simple.
1 x

User avatar
Le Baron
Brown Belt
Posts: 1434
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2021 5:14 pm
Location: The scullery
Languages: English (N), Fr, NL, De, Eo, Sranantongo (rusty).
Studying: Es, Indo.
x 3673

Re: Suggestions for Listening

Postby Le Baron » Wed Jan 26, 2022 4:42 pm

einzelne wrote:Although, when it comes to everyday conversations, I really doubt radio is that helpful. You still listen to discussions of well educated natives and usually they discuss abstract and highly sophisticated topics. No way they can prepare you for a small talk in a bakery or car repair garage... TV shows, although scripted, are still closer to everyday conversations.

That's always going to be case if one is listening to the likes of e.g. FranceCulture and "philosophy, science, history, literature, art..." That's not what I'm referring to. There are hundreds of ordinary programmes on the radio where ordinary people talk in ordinary language about everyday things. Like 'love', shopping, their jobs, their motorbike, the quality of modern bread, their lazy teenager, public transport, their dog, etc. This is when you catch people using common speech books fail to tell you about and structured 'high culture' programming assumes you already know.

einzelne wrote:Actually, I find radio way easier that TV shows or movies. Reality shows? Yes, they might be the closest to real speech but, boy, what a tremendous waste of time they are!

Yes, the reality TV can be soulless stuff at times, and the worst of it is drivel. Though it's not all like that. I'm thinking more of someone talking randomly to ordinary people in a travel programme, than 'world's biggest hoarders'. In any case real life communication is not one long 'high culture' party, it's just not like that. I think for people to be able to listen and interact more widely and on an everyday level, the more private world of bookish 'cultural enrichment' is not really the springboard for it. I read plenty academic stuff privately, but outside my own four walls (even inside them!) the communication is more mundane and practical.
Last edited by Le Baron on Wed Jan 26, 2022 4:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.
3 x
Extensive reading - One book a month for 2022: 5 / 12
Duolingo Latin - for relaxation purposes: 15 / 22
Get to know the tree before you eat the fruit! (African proverb)

User avatar
Le Baron
Brown Belt
Posts: 1434
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2021 5:14 pm
Location: The scullery
Languages: English (N), Fr, NL, De, Eo, Sranantongo (rusty).
Studying: Es, Indo.
x 3673

Re: Suggestions for Listening

Postby Le Baron » Wed Jan 26, 2022 4:45 pm

einzelne wrote:Been there, done that. There are lots of factors at play here. Honestly, the problem is not movies per se but the simple fact that 500 films is a ridiculously small number of films to develop good listening skills. It's that simple.

I wrote '500 films' as a rhetorical device. Not a specific number. It was also meant to convey that the '500 films' didn't really contain what they possibly needed.
In any case 500 is actually quite a lot in the broad scheme of things. Plenty people have seen fewer in their native language (and have seen a lot more ordinary television) and yet speak more fluently than the 5 year learner watching Ben Hur for the 40th time to 'study' it extensively.
2 x
Extensive reading - One book a month for 2022: 5 / 12
Duolingo Latin - for relaxation purposes: 15 / 22
Get to know the tree before you eat the fruit! (African proverb)

User avatar
einzelne
Blue Belt
Posts: 590
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2018 11:33 pm
Languages: Russan (N), English (Working knowledge), French (Reading), German (Reading)
x 1974

Re: Suggestions for Listening

Postby einzelne » Wed Jan 26, 2022 5:41 pm

Le Baron wrote:There are hundreds of ordinary programmes on the radio where ordinary people talk in ordinary language about everyday things. Like 'love', shopping, their jobs, their motorbike, the quality of modern bread, their lazy teenager, public transport, their dog, etc.


Yes, right, and that's why I generally cannot stand them! I started to work on my English in the early days of podcasts. I simply couldn't stand all these ESL podcasts which mimic (or sometimes would ever records) real conversations. Idle talk. I would only do this if I have to move to my L2 country.

Le Baron wrote:In any case 500 is actually quite a lot in the broad scheme of things. Plenty people have seen fewer in their native language (and have seen a lot more ordinary television) and yet speak more fluently than the 5 year learner watching Ben Hur for the 40th time to 'study' it extensively.


First, you confuse here two skills: speaking and listening. Second, I'm not a big fan of comparisons native speakers vs language learners. Yes, for a learner 500 films seem like a big deal but native speakers 'watch' movies in their native language right from the beginning all day long. 500films is about 1000h of input. Really, it's nothing.
2 x

User avatar
Le Baron
Brown Belt
Posts: 1434
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2021 5:14 pm
Location: The scullery
Languages: English (N), Fr, NL, De, Eo, Sranantongo (rusty).
Studying: Es, Indo.
x 3673

Re: Suggestions for Listening

Postby Le Baron » Wed Jan 26, 2022 5:56 pm

einzelne wrote:[Yes, right, and that's why I generally cannot stand them! I started to work on my English in the early days of podcasts. I simply couldn't stand all these ESL podcasts which mimic (or sometimes would ever records) real conversations. Idle talk. I would only do this if I have to move to my L2 country.

'Idle talk' is real communication, it's what's happening right now in this exchange. If anyone (especially in Europe) wants to consume e.g. the content of western philosophy there's no need to learn a handful foreign languages for it. It may well be fun doing it through another medium or give a feeling of satisfaction, but it's just pointless work in that regard. Even though personally I lean more towards what is often pretentiously called 'high culture' I have no regard for the summary dismissal of more vernacular culture, it's rather pompous. And in terms of learning languages to something more than a navel-gazing tool for the study, it's just as important.

einzelne wrote:First, you confuse here two skills: speaking and listening. Second, I'm not a big fan of comparisons native speakers vs language learners. Yes, for a learner 500 films seem like a big deal but native speakers 'watch' movies in their native language right from the beginning all day long. 500films is about 1000h of input. Really, it's nothing.

I didn't confuse them. I never said you have to reproduce what you hear to the same level. When you go to a lecture by e.g. a physicist you don't have to reproduce what she produces, but you have to understand it.
Some native speakers barely watch films at all. That's the thing; that they haven't watched thousands or x number of hours (days, years) and yet still consume culture from outside of their own heads. Films are not the source of language they are the product of existing language and culture; and an artificial one at that as a piece of art, as artifice.
2 x
Extensive reading - One book a month for 2022: 5 / 12
Duolingo Latin - for relaxation purposes: 15 / 22
Get to know the tree before you eat the fruit! (African proverb)

User avatar
einzelne
Blue Belt
Posts: 590
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2018 11:33 pm
Languages: Russan (N), English (Working knowledge), French (Reading), German (Reading)
x 1974

Re: Suggestions for Listening

Postby einzelne » Wed Jan 26, 2022 7:00 pm

Le Baron wrote:Even though personally I lean more towards what is often pretentiously called 'high culture' I have no regard for the summary dismissal of more vernacular culture, it's rather pompous.


I didn't bring this high/low brow distinction into conversation. You did.

I was just pointing out the simple fact that in the majority of cases these materials are really damn boring. You really loose you motivation quite fast. So, unless you're a dog owner or a parent, I imagine all these conversations about dogs or teenagers would be rather bland and uninspiring. I tired, I gave up quite fast (and, judging from the discussions on forums of language learners, I was not alone who experienced that) and switched to The Wire — is an example of high or vernacular culture? I couldn't care less.

I think, at the end of the day, it's a question of smart and realistic goal setting. If you study a language sitting while sitting in Russia, most of your time you will interact with artificial sources, as you name it: movies, books, radio, newspapers. I don't have zero problems with that, since this artificial products are the main reason why I study languages.
If you want to train your ear for informal conversations with natives, prepare to listen to a lot of boring materials. (Although, I would still ask myself first: do I really need it?)
2 x

User avatar
Le Baron
Brown Belt
Posts: 1434
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2021 5:14 pm
Location: The scullery
Languages: English (N), Fr, NL, De, Eo, Sranantongo (rusty).
Studying: Es, Indo.
x 3673

Re: Suggestions for Listening

Postby Le Baron » Wed Jan 26, 2022 7:54 pm

einzelne wrote:I didn't bring this high/low brow distinction into conversation. You did.

I do hope you are joking. It wasn't me who derisively pooh-poohed the notion of listening to 'reality TV' speech as 'a tremendous waste of time' compared to "philosophy, science, history, literature, art..." Withdraw this false claim please.

einzelne wrote:I was just pointing out the simple fact that in the majority of cases these materials are really damn boring. You really loose you motivation quite fast. So, unless you're a dog owner or a parent, I imagine all these conversations about dogs or teenagers would be rather bland and uninspiring. I tired, I gave up quite fast (and, judging from the discussions on forums of language learners, I was not alone who experienced that) and switched to The Wire — is an example of high or vernacular culture? I couldn't care less.

Yet a lot of people are dog-owners and parents, and cyclists and whatnot. Not many are philosophers, practically none. And the fact is most people learning languages in a functional way for real-life use really are talking about everyday things and not Tolstoy or the money multiplier or Schubert song cycles, or 'cool stuff' on Vice. Or even far-fetched codswallop occurring in some Netflix series about an unlikely series of crimes in a small Scandinavian village.

einzelne wrote:I think, at the end of the day, it's a question of smart and realistic goal setting. If you study a language sitting while sitting in Russia, most of your time you will interact with artificial sources, as you name it: movies, books, radio, newspapers. I don't have zero problems with that, since this artificial products are the main reason why I study languages.
If you want to train your ear for informal conversations with natives, prepare to listen to a lot of boring materials. (Although, I would still ask myself first: do I really need it?)

Well I'd challenge the premise and say that it's actually more likely that it's because someone is sitting in e.g. Russia learning a foreign language which is unlikely to be used in an interactive manner, that the falsely limited parameters are being set: 'I only want to read/consume passive culture'. That's fair enough, but it's not really a position from which to offer practical listening advice. I don't dissuade anyone from using books, radio, newspapers, film or TV, but stated that when people are talking on e.g. the news, or in a podcast about Rembrandt or in a public lecture, or in your presence or whatever, they are not talking like scripted characters. And that a good half of listening should reflect this otherwise it's much harder to understand them.
3 x
Extensive reading - One book a month for 2022: 5 / 12
Duolingo Latin - for relaxation purposes: 15 / 22
Get to know the tree before you eat the fruit! (African proverb)

User avatar
einzelne
Blue Belt
Posts: 590
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2018 11:33 pm
Languages: Russan (N), English (Working knowledge), French (Reading), German (Reading)
x 1974

Re: Suggestions for Listening

Postby einzelne » Thu Jan 27, 2022 4:24 am

I indeed brought “philosophy, science, history, literature, art…” programs, but as a suggestion to someone who “avoid[s] radio like plague”. No value judgement from me. Otherwise why, in spite of clearly signaling my preferences, I would still admit that reality shows are closest to real life situations?

I happen to be both a dog-owner and a parent, and I’m yet to find some interesting shows about these topics. For me, they are no different form L2 podcasts “How to talk to a plumber or a customs office”. In developing listening skills, mileage matters, more in any other skills, I believe. So, to keep your motivation hight, I don’t mind to listen to several thousand hours of ‘artificial’ language of TV shows/films/radio, or even audiobooks.

In fact, who are those “most people” who learn languages for real-life use? Are you sure that the majority of people on this forum learn languages for that? I think, for the majority of them, it’s just a hobby. And even if someone claims that they need a language for real-life use, do they actually need it? May be they just believe they need it.

And, sorry, if we are talking about listening skills only, I cannot agree on your last point: unscripted discussions of Rembrandt or a public lecture — this is the easiest material to master. TV shows and movies, although scripted, are better suited for training your ears. Why? See Lesson 10 from “Lessons learned from fifty years of theory and practice in government language teaching.”

So, in terms of practical advice, I would suggest not to overthink and just listen to the things you're interested in (it's hard to gradate the sources in exact order in terms of difficulty, but my rough assessment would be something like: lecture recordings/podcasts->radio/TV news/documentaries->TV series->movies). If you move to your L2 country, there you can always sit in a coffee shop, order a big cup of coffee or tea and start eavesdropping. It's the best stimulator: background noises, different accents, the absence of context, sudden shifts in conversation. It's just what the doctor ordered!
4 x


Return to “Practical Questions and Advice”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests