Frustration in listening

Plug in those listening numbers and watch those go up! Make it your goal to keep bumping those up. That’s been something I’ve been trying to do myself.

Listening in Vietnamese has always been my greatest struggle. Despite years in Vietnamese and a few months in Mandarin, Mandarin feels more understandable to my ears. Something about the sound of Vietnamese escapes me. I lived in Vietnam, I spend hours a day studying, I chat with my Vietnamese friends, and still I struggle.

I solved this is in three main ways, in addition to traditional strategies of just sitting and listening:

  1. I take clips from my favorite drama shows and convert them to an mp3 to be played on repeat. So, in a 45 minute episode, I cut out a few 2-4 minute conversations to be put on my mp3 player, and listen on repeat. Usually I’ll have four or five clips that play in a loop. This has been immense in normalizing the flow and phrases of real conversations in my ears.

  2. Listening with subtitles in my native English. Once you know the words of whatever you’re listening to, listening with English subs helps me catch words that I know, but cannot hear. I got this idea from Steve Kaufmann who mentioned in a video that he will do a few listens of something with an English transcript. It works, but only after I’ve learned the words. It is amazing how many words in Vietnamese I catch with an English script. Though this has been most helpful in learning the sound of the southern dialect, where pronunciation seems like a different language to me sometimes.

  3. Lastly I read several articles on a given topic, say, the Capitol Hill riots, then once I’m finished, I watch a news cast of that event, and suddenly I’m catching brand new words I had just read in the articles. This is the best way for me to pick up those rare words that rarely show up. Very specific topical words. Read a few articles, then find a news channel doing a piece on the event, you’re guaranteed to hear several new words that you had read in the articles. I prefer this to reading a transcript of a news talk, because when I read a transcript, I just end up memorizing everything, so when I’m listening I know what they’re saying because I memorized, not because I actually hear it. When I read articles, the news talk will be similar, but I cannot rely on memorization.

But with everything, I follow the weight lifting principle of “progressive overload.” I ensure that I’m understanding more every day. The short clips from tv shows help the most, because they are the most digestible. Then I move up in difficulty. Each day I am catching a new word in a sentence until, blam, I’m understanding every word in the sentence. Otherwise, I don’t really think about where I am trying to go or stress about goals. What drives me is slowly, and progressively, being able to talk to my Vietnamese friends in a similar way to how I speak to my English speaking friends. I am driven by a desire to understand them as I understand my friends here in the States.

And, of course, any time I feel like I’m not making progress in Vietnamese, I try to do in Mandarin what I can do in Vietnamese, and I realize how far I’ve come. :)))

I really like the idea in #3 ChiefStrudel.

I oversaw a very important thing when I posted this and that was to note how my frustration in listening isn´t really applicable to the LingQ content. As many of you have pointed out, you could just read the texts if you get frustrated with not understanding enough, then listen again even. You could also just move on to more difficult material when you understand almost everything.

My frustrations have been while listening to material outside of LingQ. My frustrations, speculating whether I´m wasting my time with something that is too easy, are mostly from watching the Valerian and Laureline space cartoon, while my frustrations with understanding less than I think I should mostly come from watching The Count of Monte Cristo series with Gerard Depardieu. This is all in French of course. I just have to keep telling myself that it´s good I understand that much with the cartoon and how it will really cement my understanding an make sure I don´t forget words or how they are pronounced. I will also just have to be more patient with the Count, knowing how this is fairly complex dialogue, there can be background noise and so on. I downloaded the live action film with Valerian and Laureline, but to my disappointment it wasn´t in French (how inauthentic!).

I know you don’t believe it consciously but that idea still seems to affect your learning strategy, at least based on your above post

The inverse seems also true. You cannot become a great lego builder without owning a lot of lego blocks.

" The inverse seems also true. You cannot become a great lego builder without owning a lot of lego blocks. " - absolutely true. You would both need to have a lot of lego blocks and you would have to have had a lot of experience in using them to be able to build something great. A great vocabulary is necessary to become very good at a language, but it is not (on it´s own) sufficient.

It´s more me getting addicted to the “game” element than anything else really. If you built your stats by listening, speaking etc. I´m sure that would have gotten me hooked just as easily. I´m consciously trying to make up for the imbalance now by listening and not doing a lot of reading. I´m well aware that I would not improve my French that much at all by going from 60K “known words” to 61, 62, 65 or even 70K words, but I´d improve it tremendously by spending a few dozen hours watching French movies and series and listening to interviews on youtube, listening to material on LingQ and so on.

I have to agree. Learning words from reading and then listening to material loaded with those words is a great way to learn to catch the words when you hear them.

Listening to stories with “focus and attention” is difficult to sustain at my level (A2/B1). I find myself vacillating between brief periods of intense attention (maybe 1 minute or two at a time) and longer periods of really not paying close attention and being pretty lost. Once I lose the thread for a sentence or two its hard to lock back in on a decent sense of the thread of the story. I am much better focused with reading and listening at the same time. I listen and read lingqing new words and moving words to the “known” column. I keep going until I really dont understand a particular word, phrase or sentence. I stop and check idioms, expressions or word definitions. Then I go back to reading and listening. My hope is that at some point my ability to actively listen for longer periods of concentration will get better through this method of reading and listening. I have not found a way to actively listen on its own terms that is enjoyable or sustainable for very long yet.

That’s great! I wish you lots of success

This is why my primary listening activity has been audiobooks – and my primary learning activity has been reading and listening along to books. This way, once I work up to being able to listen to a book and follow the story, the activity becomes not about “progress” and “comprehension levels” and “time wasting,” but about the story itself that I’m listening to.

There is a way to work up to specifically this level of listening – reading along to books, and then re-listening to them without reading, I can get to unassisted listening after about 2-4 books.

So there is a steep ramp at the beginning, but after that, it’s all just kind of on autopilot because it’s an activity I enjoy – and audiobooks build to TV / movie level comprehension in due time.

@chrishuber No, I didn’t mean re-reads, I mean that after I have finished reading and listening to a book, I will move onto book #2 with reading and listening, but as a secondary activity I will just re-listen to book #1 as listening practice, since I’ve just read it, and even if I won’t understand a lot of it just by listening, I will remember enough to pick up a lot. Having done this with 2-4 books in a row, I start feeling good enough to just start listening to new books unassisted – all the while keeping with a daily routine of my primary activity of reading / listening to a separate book.

At any given time, I’m usually in the middle of 3 books:
One for Spanish read/listen primary.
One either French or German (alternating) of just reading for fun.
And one audio book, just listening, alternating between Spanish, French, and German.

What has happened since I wrote this is my listening comprehension has gotten better, to the point where I can now just enjoy listening to most of what I choose to listen to. I understand enough from advanced material that I don´t get frustrated over not understanding, but since I know it´s advanced material, I also don´t feel I´m wasting my time.

Congrats, Rokkvi, sounds great!

Or as the “Mandalorian” would say: “This is the way!” :slight_smile:

Yes he knows da way my broda!

For myself, I’m a bit frustrated because it’s hard to follow the course.
I’m a new student (intermediary 2) and I have a lot of questions.
when I go to the community, I write my question and it doesn’t appear.
it’s the same thing with the forum.
What can I do ?
Thank you

Where do you find these audio-books ?

I just get them from Audible – they have a big selection of in various languages which you can find under the category of “non-english audiobooks”

You can´t really expect people on the forum to explain the meaning of what you are listening to to you all the time. They may not be listening to the same material and just may not feel like taking their time to do it.

If you don´t understand what is happening in what you are listening to, you can always go back to the text to read it and thus make sense of it. If you are listening to something outside of LingQ, then it can really help to already know the material already (like if you´ve read it before in your own language) or to have a version of it in your own language.

When I first read the Count of Monte Cristo on LingQ in French, I didn´t always feel I understood everything correctly, so I´d just go to to get the chapter overviews and make sure I had grasped what had happened in the chapter I´d just read.