Improve Your PassiveListening Skills
Are you learning a foreign language? What a silly question...ofcourse you are! And, like many who are doing so, you probably haveone problem when you try to understand a speaker using his or hermother tongue at a natural speed: you can't understand it! I knowhow it is, and I know what to do about it.
However, first let me tell you something about myself. I am apassionate language learner. I never stop learning new languages,and I am constantly seeking new and faster/more effective methodsof learning the foreign language of my choice. This means I givethese questions deep thought and end up improving my methods bytrial and error. I end up with knowledge that helps greatly whenlearning and perfecting a language. I want to share my knowledgewith you. For free!!! Listen carefully...
I am not really saying anything unknown to anyone or anything thatwas kept a secret. All of us know this deep in our hearts, but wejust don't imagine how important it is. If you started learningyour foreign language of choice a while ago and can understand alot now (mostly in written form), and yet you still cannotunderstand the normal, but fast speed at which natives talk, thenyou need to...listen to them use it!
There are many ways to do this. You could go to a country wherethey speak this language and hang out with natives while listeningto them talk. You could hire a teacher and ask him or her to talknon-stop. Or you could find a TV channel in that language andlisten to it all day. Sounds easy? It almost is, but notcompletely. There are some mistakes that need to be avoided whiledoing this, or else you will just be wasting your time and notlearning anything because you are not doing it right.
The number one thing for improving or learning a foreign languagewhile watching TV or listening to speakers is to pay attention.Daydreaming is not allowed! Doing your homework while having the TVon in the background will not only not help you with the language,but it will make your head hurt. You will get frustrated due tolack of results as far as language learning is concerned. Playinggames that require attention or doing anything that distracts youfrom what is spoken on TV is a big NO-NO.
The most effective way, in my experience, is to always pay theutmost attention and to listen to what is said WITHOUT TRYING TOUNDERSTAND IT! Trying to understand it will only get you frustratedand tired. Let your subconscious do all of the work! It has nochoice other than to learn when you focus on what somebody issaying. By this I mean “catching” the sentences withoutunderstanding them. The understanding will come all byitself.
That’s it! Just by doing this, and only this, you can learn aforeign language without ever looking at grammar rules or lookingup words in a dictionary. How do I know? I have learned twolanguages this way! I merely watched cartoons in English and Germanwithout understanding anything and without expecting to understandanything. I never wanted to learn a foreign language. I was justenjoying the cartoons. And yet here I am writing this text…inEnglish! I’m also doing informal tutoring on italki!
Try watching television in your favorite foreign language toimprove your language skills and to understand it when spokenquickly. It takes a lot of time, and progress is only seen afterwatching a lot of TV because you are learning everything at once.When you only study vocabulary or pronunciation, you will seebigger progress. But imagine that you are learning everything youneed at once with just one method! This is the most natural methodby the way: being exposed to the spoken language.
feeling bored can be a problem. It is easier to learn somethingwithout trying too hard. I find that having something to do thatrequires as little attention as possible can help make time flyfaster when you are not really watching a TV show, but instead justlistening to the language you are learning.
I can’t stress this enough. Never stop focusing on the words andsentences you hear on TV. No daydreaming! Only do something else ifyou find it truly helps fighting boredom. If you can enjoy watchinga program in your foreign language, then it is always better toactually watch the TV show instead of just listening to it. Also,don’t use subtitles, because they distract you from listening tothe spoken language. Watching the same TV episode many times alsohelps speed up the progress.
So in summary, to learn to understand fast speech and improve yourforeign
language skills, I advise you this:
■ Watch or listen to TV.
■ Always pay attention to the people talking on TV and try to“catch” their sentences.
■ Do not try to understand them, as your subconscious will do thejob for you.
■ Do not do anything that distracts you from the language that isspoken.