I can recognize the words of the language while listening, but still cannot make sense of what I listen!?

Hi everyone

I have been diving into German for about 1.5 months, and I do about 3 hours a day reading and listening. I started from scratch. Now when I listen for the contents, I can recognize the words but I still cannot make a sense of them. I mean I still cannot link them to each other while listening to understand and make sense of the spoken material.

Any one have been there? Any idea?

Thank you

Its completely normal…you have to choose easy contents and listen it a lot of times…you’re just at the beginning, and after a time, you’ll be understanding and making sense of listening material more easily.

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i’m at that stage with french but you just have to continue what your doing there is no magic that will make it easier

Understanding the text takes time. You also need to be able to understand the words quickly. Practice by reading texts composed of known words until you get the meaning. Then listen to the same texts and try to follow what you have already read. It just takes practice.

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it is because they are speaking too quickly for you to process. after 1.5 months you don’t have an intuitive understanding of words yet and are translating to english in your head. your brain is too overwhelmed to both listen and understand. you need to listen to slower/less advanced audio, or repeatedly listen to the advanced audio until understanding comes. in my opinion if you are hearing the individual words spoken and could understand them if spoken at a slower pace, then you should be using the repeatedly listen to the same content strategy.

Thank you. That helped me a lot!
May I know are you at that stage of French, or have successfully managed to pass it!?


When I first began Korean in earnest here on LingQ it was similar for me.

The beginner material which included simple sentences like “Where are you?” “I’m coming” were pretty quick for me to understand while listening.

However everything else I’d just recognize words and sometimes a little phrase.

It happens eventually though! Just read the text so you know what to listen for, listen to it multiple times trying to make out the words and see if you can remember some of them. Work through as much beginner material as you can get your hands on, work through each piece multiple times, revisit them if you haven’t looked at them in a while…

It clicks eventually. It really does.

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Yes, it took me a while of listening before I could put words together in German: it can be quite tricky because of the backwards sentence structure. My suggestion: Listen, listen, and listen some more. It will take time but you’ll get there.

Good news is that it clicked for you? :slight_smile:

But why beginner material?
After 3 weeks and despite I can only recognize words, I moved right away to intermediate 1

May I know how long it took from you until it clicked?
I mean around how many hours and days of practice?

I suggested Beginner material because the grammar used is simpler, sentences are typically shorter and the audio is spoken a little slower.

Obviously you can tackle whatever material you would like to but you’ll have a much more difficult time working through it if you use material far above your current level. It will take much longer in particular to understand the audio for more advanced material.

If you want confirmation that YOU can understand the content as it is being spoken, working with simpler material will get you that confirmation in much shorter time than working with more advanced material.

Part of it may be how you try to make sense of the words. Some people go from Target Language Word ------> Native Language --------> Meaning. You should not try to translate the words like that, but just go from Target Language Word -------> Meaning. This may help a bit. Also there is a chance the content you are listening to is a little to advanced, I don’t know.

Mat it took me a lot longer for me to make sense of the words I was listening too. (Part of that is because I am a slacking off kid who gets excited about language for a bit and then looses that excitement).

Thank you.
I said that because I am thinking working with beginner material will allow me to understand beginner material, and after I do the work, and it is time to come to the intermediate material, I might found that I will have difficult time again!? So why not to take the adventure from first!?
Thank you again

When I re-listen to a track that I’ve already walked through once, I keep my memory of it in mind as I listen again. I think of it as “tracing” the meaning of the lesson in my mind while I listen intently to the sounds. I recall what I remember them saying, and use that to remind me what they “should” be saying.

For me, doing it this way lets me repeatedly overwrite the sounds I’m hearing with shades of meaning. The audio and the meaning gradually get linked together.

When I forget to do this with a newish lesson (try to use brute force of repetition), it stays just sounds to me longer. But the moment I remember the subject of the lesson, I can suddenly hear more of it. And also more clearly pinpoint which parts stubbornly remain just sounds, so I can concentrate there until the whole thing clears up.

I don’t know if that makes sense at all, or if it’s so obvious that everybody’s doing it already, but that’s what’s happening in my head as I listen.

It makes a lot of sense. It’s the basis of the “comprehensible input” mechanism for language acquisition. You explained very well what to concentrate on.
As you progress, you may find that you can do a similar thing in progressively smaller scales. That is, you begin by holding the general idea of the text that you read previously. Later you’ll find easier to keep in mind the meaning of particular fragments or paragraphs (because you can use more of the words themselves to cue you about what part of the text you’re in), later in particular sentences
Your brain (to put it that way) will take care of linking sounds to ideas over time

And this means will lead to understand other texts in the future, not only the one I remember in my mind?

Yes, because the new texts will increasingly incorporate language elements that you’ll already have become familiar with in this way.

Once the meanings get linked together enough with the sounds by having studied the earlier lessons, you’ll be able to hear those same patterns when they show up in later lessons too. Making everything easier.

More and more of your listening to the sounds will become actual “hearing” the language, and that’ll allow you to enter into new lessons more quickly because you’ve already become familiar with many of the components that get reused. Even in a new lesson. As Francisco implied, you can more easily focus on the new stuff because it stands out more in contrast to the smoother flow of the parts that you already know.

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For my German, the toughest stretch was from about 1000-4000 or so known words. There isn’t a good transition from the beginner to intermediate content The way german sentences structure is… the literal translations are quite unclear to english in many cases. So it seems overwhelming the number of sentences that you kind of know many of the words but don’t understand the meaning is intimidating. I used to think it was impossible and I would never be able to understand it. Don’t get discouraged!

I have some good news for you as a German learner. German gets much easier once you get over the intermediate hump. I can’t explain how, but in general sentences became much easier to understand even without grammatical explanations. Also, new vocabulary becomes much much easier, because so much of German is made up of compound words that you already know. It starts snowballing and learning new words becomes very fast.

Very well explanation man, especially the good news part made my day haha

In how many months should I pass the intermediate hump? I study 3 hours a day.

Thank you!!