Comprehensible input?

I have watched some videos of Steven Krashen speaking about comprehensible input and find it quite fascinating. I am curious as to whether people think that this in turn makes listening to things such as podcasts and radio mostly useless… I mean, if you don’t know what is being said and what they are talking about, can this really be beneficial to learning?

Ok, perhaps it is beneficial to listen to podcasts, tv shows and radio so that you familiarize yourself with how the language sounds and you get used to hearing something you are not used to hearing. But, it is most likely not as effective as using methods such as lingQ or Assimil where you actually understand what is going on.

If you were to choose a podcast over say reading a dual text book and listening to the audio, which would you say is more effective and efficient for improving?

I would guess that the answer is: When you have time to read and listen to comprehensible input you should do so and only when that is not possible should you be listening to podcasts or other material that you do not understand.

What do you think?

Every listening is good for getting accustomed to the melodic patterns of the language.
But if you know only 100 words in your target language and try to listen a radio or TV program, it hardly brings you some practical sense at all.
I can’t say there is no point in it, but I believe that in beginner level it makes more practical sense to use very simple texts and dialogues gathering new words in your mind and only after obtaining more than 1000 words you can try listening to real online radio programs.

I’ve never used incomprehensible input because I can’t see the value of it. If I’m listening to a podcast, if someone says: What are you listening to? and I can tell them, it’s comprehensible. If the answer is “dunno” then I can’t see the point of listening to it. I might as well find the audiobook version of a book I’ve already read and remember the plot of, and study the transcript as well.

I listen to incomprehensible input all the time! I also study for hours at a time. So what was incomprehensible becomes clear to me, especially after having inundated my brain with the language. As a case in point, when I was starting out with French, I had to accelerate things because of school–so I dove in with a kind of bloodthirsty vengeance and listened to incomprehensible input all the time. I had the most amazing breakthrough in terms of understanding the spoken word. Why? Maybe it was due to all those “impressions” on my brain; maybe it was due to having made space for the unknown. It was likely a combination of intense study and intense listening. I think that loads of incomprehensible input works beautifully in tandem with super-loads of comprehensible input.

I listen to french comedy shows and they help me a lot. I listen to at least 30 minutes of russian or french a day. I may not understand everything but I understand some words. When the brain is exposed to the language it can recongise the patterns and therefore helping you understand the language a lot better. It has certainly helped me. I also use lingq and memris to memorise words.

I have been listening to news broadcasts a lot and rarely understand even the general topic. I do this in “dead time” when I can’t do other language activities. (I say “dead time” as a little joke, because I’m listening while I’m at work… in this case it’s good that I don’t understand, as it might distract me from doing my work.)

I have it on in the background and don’t pay much attention to it, it’s useful to train my ear to the sounds of the language. I have noticed that I can now hear discrete words more easily, and I often hear words or phrases that I’ve studied or am in the process of learning. This reinforcement really does help, I know that I’ve learned several words or phrases more quickly because I have heard them multiple times in this way and I’m sure that it’s helping more generally in a gradual way that’s not consciously perceptible.

An interesting new development is that I’ve started to be able to identify non-native accents. I may not understand the content but I can hear that the speech sounds different. Since I listen on YouTube I can flip to the video and see if speaker looks Chinese to confirm my guess. I’m rather pleased with this new ability.

So I think listening to incomprehensible input is useful, and am going to continue. However it should be combined with active study of comprehensible material.

I do not like incomprehensible input because I find it boring. I suspect it would be useful if I concentrated on it, but I don’t want to concentrate on something I don’t understand. That being said, I am a physicist, so I spend most of my day working with incomprehensible input :smiley: