How to improve oral comprehension and production

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Uncle Roger
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Re: How to improve oral comprehension and production

Postby Uncle Roger » Thu May 17, 2018 7:40 am

Cavesa, very good point. My only addition would be that the transition from C1 to C2 (or even advanced B2 to C2, if there's such a thing as a discernable advanced B2) could and should happen naturally. As far as I gather, C1 is that magic threshold after which you should be able to just "learn by doing" if you expose yourself to the language enough. If you live the language daily (say, you live in French), this should happen automatically.
To me, all the tricks, SRS regimens etc have to objective to take you that pivotal point as fast as possible. In my experience, the road is downhill afterwards.
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Re: How to improve oral comprehension and production

Postby Cavesa » Thu May 17, 2018 7:53 am

Carmody wrote:Cavesa
Most grateful for your comprehensive review. I will proceed to study and act on it.
:D

You're welcome, I hope some of this will be useful to you. Also, I really recommend Emk's posts!

Uncle Roger wrote:Cavesa, very good point. My only addition would be that the transition from C1 to C2 (or even advanced B2 to C2, if there's such a thing as a discernable advanced B2) could and should happen naturally. As far as I gather, C1 is that magic threshold after which you should be able to just "learn by doing" if you expose yourself to the language enough. If you live the language daily (say, you live in French), this should happen automatically.
To me, all the tricks, SRS regimens etc have to objective to take you that pivotal point as fast as possible. In my experience, the road is downhill afterwards.


There are no universal magic tresholds, from my experience. The point after which it gets much easier to "learn by doing" can arrive earlier or later, it depends on the student. I was progressing mostly with tv series and books after B2 but I wasn't taking the shortest route. However, Carmody still doesn't need to worry about C1 and any SRS or coursebooks can be very helpful at the intermediate levels, let's hope they find their functional solution. So that they can worry about C1 asap. :-D

We can agree on the fact that SRS and other tools are just there to make some parts of learning more efficient, I was suggesting nothing else. But it is simply true that vast majority of people that I've met and who were struggling to speak were actually struggling mostly with grammar and vocabulary, and in case of comprehension problems, vocabulary was an important part of it. Also the "live the language daily" is a bit of an impractical way to point out the importance of exposure as it is too close to the "you have to move abroad" myth. It is definitely possible to reach C2 while still living mostly in one's native language. We can't all just move abroad. And even if you can do so, it doesn't happen automatically. If it did, there wouldn't be so many people who live in a country while still being stuck far below C2 for decades.
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Re: How to improve oral comprehension and production

Postby jeffers » Thu May 17, 2018 7:55 am

Cavesa wrote:A resource I consider helpful are +French courses by Eunoia on Memrise.


Cavesa, I've just signed onto Memrise for the first time to try to find this course, and it doesn't show up in searches. I searched for Eunoia and I searched for +French. Any further suggestions? Or is it possible to give a link?


EDIT: I found them. I just went to the French section and kept scrolling down until I found one of their courses, then clicked on their name. The link is:
https://www.memrise.com/user/eunoia/courses/teaching/
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Re: How to improve oral comprehension and production

Postby Cavesa » Thu May 17, 2018 8:01 am

https://www.memrise.com/user/eunoia/courses/teaching/

Here you are. The search function there really doesn't work.
The +Spanish courses are good too, but by far not as interesting as the +French ones, I think it is due to the source database for each of the projects.
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Re: How to improve oral comprehension and production

Postby garyb » Thu May 17, 2018 8:18 am

I agree that the idea that learning just takes care of itself after a certain level is a dangerous one. My experience is the opposite: once at "advanced B2", progress is slow and I really need to put in significant time and effort to keep moving rather than stay on a plateau. I indeed see the same in the majority of English learners living in the UK: after B2 or so their progress comes to a halt for years or decades, because that level is good enough to do what they need and they're no longer making a conscious effort to improve.
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Re: How to improve oral comprehension and production

Postby Cavesa » Thu May 17, 2018 8:41 am

Yes, it doesn't take care of itself. And I would find it especially strange if the level at which it would change so much was the same for everyone.

There are various ways to tackle the intermediate and advanced phases. Some people are very successful with SRS, some swear by intensive listening and disecting a smaller amount of material. I have excellent experience with just consuming tons of media. It works well but I don't think Carmody is at the point of dropping every learner aimed resources already. And it also requires a lot of patience. Ideally no focus on the progress. It will just happen by the way. Relying on extensive input activities and worrying about progress all the time are two incompatible attitudes in my opinion.
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Re: How to improve oral comprehension and production

Postby Elexi » Thu May 17, 2018 10:44 am

Carmody - another suggestion I would have is that you may need to work on processing sentences (by which I do not mean translate). Its not scientific and I am sure modern SLA people would cry heresy, but I found that the old technique of 'listen and repeat' applied to something like Charlie et Lola (which after all is written for 6 year olds) seems to help - i.e. to listen to a sentence, pause the video and then repeat it - and to go back until you get it correct. I personally found that helped me bridge the gap between knowing the words and processing them in real time. Eventually, I find this crutch is unnecessary as I get into the flow of what was being said.
Last edited by Elexi on Mon May 21, 2018 8:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How to improve oral comprehension and production

Postby Uncle Roger » Thu May 17, 2018 2:00 pm

garyb wrote:I agree that the idea that learning just takes care of itself after a certain level is a dangerous one. My experience is the opposite: once at "advanced B2", progress is slow and I really need to put in significant time and effort to keep moving rather than stay on a plateau. I indeed see the same in the majority of English learners living in the UK: after B2 or so their progress comes to a halt for years or decades, because that level is good enough to do what they need and they're no longer making a conscious effort to improve.


There were plenty of conditionals in my previous post ;)

The assumption is that the "student" has to be the right one. You are right, it's not always a given. I worked for 3 years in a typical FIGS environment in the UK (French, Italian, German, Spanish). Yes, most people's English would stay the same the moment they could get by. Sure, their passive vocabulary would increase (and pretty much without specific effort), they could understand all that natives were saying to them. But yes, they would get stuck on the same mistakes.
For the more switched on individuals, though, there is a threshold in my experience. It'll work much better for the more motivated, attentive learners. People that are probably very good active speaker sin their own native language (I genuinely believe there are significantly various degrees at which people actively speak their own language).
I'd be tempted to say that, at that level of advancement, if you don't learn by doing it, you probably just can't quite learn it past B2/C1, even if you tried?
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Re: How to improve oral comprehension and production

Postby Andy E » Thu May 17, 2018 2:54 pm

Elexi wrote:Carmody - another suggestion I would have is that you may need to work on processing sentences (by which I do not mean translate). Its not scientific and I am sure modern SLA people would cry heresy, but I found that the old technique of 'listen and repeat' applied to something like Charlie et Lola (which after all is written for 6 year olds) seems to help - i.e. to listen to a sentence, pause the video and then repeat it - and to go back until you get it correct. I personally found that helped me bridge the gap between knowing the words and processing them in real time. Eventually, I find this crutch unnecessary as got into the flow of what was being said.


+1
I'm using exactly this method for refreshing my Spanish Listening Comprehension at the moment.
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Re: How to improve oral comprehension and production

Postby Cavesa » Thu May 17, 2018 6:26 pm

Uncle Roger wrote:
garyb wrote:I agree that the idea that learning just takes care of itself after a certain level is a dangerous one. My experience is the opposite: once at "advanced B2", progress is slow and I really need to put in significant time and effort to keep moving rather than stay on a plateau. I indeed see the same in the majority of English learners living in the UK: after B2 or so their progress comes to a halt for years or decades, because that level is good enough to do what they need and they're no longer making a conscious effort to improve.


There were plenty of conditionals in my previous post ;)

The assumption is that the "student" has to be the right one. You are right, it's not always a given. I worked for 3 years in a typical FIGS environment in the UK (French, Italian, German, Spanish). Yes, most people's English would stay the same the moment they could get by. Sure, their passive vocabulary would increase (and pretty much without specific effort), they could understand all that natives were saying to them. But yes, they would get stuck on the same mistakes.
For the more switched on individuals, though, there is a threshold in my experience. It'll work much better for the more motivated, attentive learners. People that are probably very good active speaker sin their own native language (I genuinely believe there are significantly various degrees at which people actively speak their own language).
I'd be tempted to say that, at that level of advancement, if you don't learn by doing it, you probably just can't quite learn it past B2/C1, even if you tried?


I think the misunderstanding is here: noone says you can learn without tons of exposure and without lots of "doing". Actually, Garyb and I have both been very active about promoting exactly this. What we are saying: it is very often helpful not to give up on the more boring and less natural tools, at least not too early. They can be very helpful. Especially as we are talking about Carmody here, who is now fighting the loooong battle against the intermediate level.

Noone has been talking about people unable to learn by doing, just about the fact that the progress is not automatic, not even in the ideal conditions. People who work consciously work on themselves simply progress much faster and better than people counting on the magic around.

I believe any person able to get through high school is also able to get to a C1 in a foreign language. A university educated person should be able to get to C2. At least as far as talent goes. But most of those stuck at a lower level are "doing" and should be "learning by doing" all the time. But many of them are held back exactly because they gave up on grammarbooks, srs, and similar stuff. I definitely don't think a university professor stuck around B2 is stuck because of lack of talent.

There are more paths. Noone has been proposing a single miracle method.

But I can tell you from my own experience that returning to the boring stuff at the higher levels can still be very useful at times. And actually failing to return to it, at such a point, can lead to stagnation or even regression. My posts on this forum are a clear example. I am supposedly "learning by doing" a lot, I am writing too much! :-D But I put my advanced grammarbooks in the bookcase eight years ago and they've been collecting dust ever since. And it shows. I have the potential to write better than this and not to make stupid mistakes (on my defense, the worst ones happen around 3am :-D ). I am just not using it, because I refuse to return to that kind of activities, at least for now.

I am all for using as much natural native input as possible. I think all my logs and posts prove it. But I just don't consider it reasonable to dogmatically throw away tools that could be helpful to some learners.
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