The rewards are already built into the learning process: first when you recognize that the mumbling you hear actually consists of words (even when you don't understand them yet), then when you recognize at least some of the words from your vocabulary studies, and finally when you understand enough of the words to grasp the meaning of the while utterance. And later on simply being understood when you try to speak should also be seen as a reward.
Well, there is one element missing in this description, namely the idea that you should learn you words by listening. But in my opinion this possibility is overrated. In a very weak language you simply haven't got the time to learn enough words on the fly since every attempt to think abut a certain word will cause that you lose several seconds. OK, if a certain word occurs often enough you will eventually learn to recognize it, but the most common words are precisely those that are syntactically most complex and most likely not to have a clear meaning. The message is that when you listen you shouldn't try at all costs to understand the things you hear. First listen for the word boundaries and maybe the most frequent words (which tend to be grammar words), but be happy just to recognize them - don't mull over the meaning of each word you have identified. If later on the meaning of single words or whole phrases pops up in your head take it as a gift from heaven. Once you have become a expert speaker you will also just rely on automatic and semiautomatic processes most of the time, and you will irritate everyone around you if you try to slow down the speech by inserting ahems, euhs and other empty time slot fillers.
The exception is of course if somebody really tries hard to explain something to you - then you should of course listen, but mostly people just babble on and on without inserting pauses for decoding and afterthought.
I once coined the expression "listening like a bloodhound" for this approach to listening. The idea is that a bloodhound will follow a trail with its nose close to the ground and - if it is a good bloodhound - without chasing hares and humans and other dogs along the way.
Ask specific questions about your target languages. Beginner questions welcome!
- Black Belt - 1st Dan
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