I really don't know where I'm going wrong

Sometimes I get so hugely peed off with my listening progress in Spanish. i’m approaching a year and a half of learning now and yet when I try listening to podcasts about things that interest me, Football for example…I still have no clue what on earth is being said…I hear lots of words that I know, I hear names I know. But apart from this I just cant comprehend what I’m hearing. listening whilst conversing is slightly different, because at least if I am in a conversation I know that a response to something I say could only be so many things, which makes it a lot easier to understand…and even then I still don’t understand a lot of what I hear when I converse with a spanish speaker.

When I hear steve in his videos say he listens to czech news about politics and understands whats going on, it makes me wonder what im doing wrong considering steve has been learning czech for less time (i believe) than I have spanish. People say to do what i “enjoy” but I really don’t enjoy not understanding a topic that i am supposed to be interested in. Sometimes i get advised to just listen and listen and listen and it will all “become clearer”…but it really hasn’t in this respect. Im going to spain for a few months soon, to a language school to try and become fluent, but it annoys me that it will take this for me to hopefully understand spoken spanish, and that i’ve not been able to do it on my own here.

I mean, can somebody honestly tell me what is required to improve listening ability? must I really concentrate 100% on listening to something and then continue listening for hours a day, probably not even knowing what im listening to. I don’t get it at all…

I don’t know how many hours in you are or how similar your experience is, but I’ve had a problem like the one you mention. My brain used to catch on easy words (names I recognized, simple words, English words) and I was completely missing the rest of the words.

If you’re like me, my suggestion is to listen more…I don’t know…homogeneously? Imagine that your only task is to hear the syllables. Don’t even let yourself get bogged down differentiating words. Don’t know where one word starts and another stops? IMO, not as big of a deal as people make it out to be. Hear the syllables and be confident that knowing enough vocabulary starts to make it come together (or at least clump into the appropriate words) automatically.

Don’t enjoy listening to a topic you normally enjoy? Sounds like you might be stressing over exact meaning. I comprehend best when relaxed and curious and not at all worried about exact meaning.

Warning: I’m very good at giving advice to myself, but that’s cause I know a bit more about myself. Results may vary.

Well, after 6 years of Russian I can understand most podcasts. After only one and a half years I could only have understood carefully articlated lessons, like the intermediate 1 level ones in the LingQ library.

I don’t think it’s a question of what you’re doing wrong, I think maybe Steve has acquired (over many decades) a very highly-trained pair of ears.

PS I WOULD suggest, however, that you increase your Spanish listening time. I’ve had a look at your profile page and you don’t seem to be meeting the weekly listening goals. Or maybe you’re doing more outside of LingQ and you’re not adding these sessions to your stats?

You could try listening to audiobooks, read by a professional actor, while reading along to the book? I did that for years in Russian and it paid off.

I can’t really give you advice on specific techniques because I am not an experienced learner. My one comment though is that there is no point in comparing yourself with people like Steve. I spent a lot of time last year in a language school trying to learn German as my first foreign language and I remember comparing myself to people in my class who had learned three or four already and then feeling bad because I could not keep up with them. A first time language learner comparing themselves to somebody like Steve is like somebody going to university to learn mathematics, and in their first year or two studying, comparing their ability with a senior professor. Of course Steve is going to learn his 23rd language faster than we are going to learn our first. That’s all I have to say. Keep studying.

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According to Krashen’s comprehensible input theory, the input must be comprehensible! So just listening to things you don’t understand doesn’t help much. You need a way to understand what you are hearing - you need to follow a script, probably. I guess that is what skyblueteapot is suggesting at the end of her post.

That’s why I study here at LingQ - so that my input is made comprehensible by the scripts and the easily accessed definitions.

Excuse me, if this is what you are already doing, but since you mentioned listening for hours without comprehension, I had to throw in my two cents!

@Corin_Wright From being an active reader of this forum I take it that one of Steve’s great strengths is not to worry about any weakness in hearing/understand/comprehending. Somewhere he likened language learning to going for a walk in the fog. There’ll be an end to the fog, at some point.

I would take everybody’s advice in this thread, relax and enjoy keeping at it. Comprehensible input, here we come! (Like @kcb, I sometimes ignore my own good advice.)

I heard on a German podcast somewhere that doing a lot of something for years actually changes the structure of your brain so you get better at it. These brain structure changes (or maybe it’s brain activity changes) are visible on an MRI scan.

I would love to have Steve’s brain MRI as a poster on my wall as one of those motivational things.

@himmelblaueteekanne :

What a great idea! Let’s get Steve to volunteer for an MRI scan. I had one some years ago in London as part of a study into musical ability - I was one of those who didn’t have any - and as a thank you we were sent pictures of our brain. Unfortunately I left it too late to print them out.
After the scan Steve would be given a decorated bone china mug as a thank you. It says “brainy or mug?” next to a picture of a brain. How could one possibly resist such a free offer? Steve just has to make sure that he hasn’t got any metal bits in his head, anywhere. After that, we could all buy Steve’s MRI pictures and plaster our walls with his brain.

after watching Keith in his video My experience of becoming multilingual - YouTube , he states that he remembers it took him a “very long time” to learn the first language he attempted, and that it gradually got better with every language. So maybe it’s not all doom and gloom.

To himmelblaueteekanne and Sanneteekanne;):

Please start at about the nineteen second mark. Enjoy!

@Corin Wright
Thanks for sharing the link!

Thank you, both!

Learning other foreign languages definitely induces brain changing substances.

@Corin_Wright - Steve’s success can partly be attributed to confidence and ability but what is also evident from his statistics is the sheer number of LingQs and volume of content he goes through even though, as you say, he has been at Czech less time than you have been at Spanish. You may want to match Steve’s progress in Spanish for a few months and then see if you’re still frustrated… :wink:

I tried to match Steve’s Russian stats for a while, as we had started learning the language at about the same time. It was evident that he was getting through way more material (and doing way more listening) than I was, and his known words increased at maybe double the rate mine did.

It seems like you have read over 800,000 words, but have created only 10,000 LingQs and know only 10,000 words. I have read half as much as you (albeit in German), yet I have created 20,000 LingQs and know the same number of words. Are you properly LingQing unknown words? I think you have to increase your word count well past 10,000 before you can be comfortable in listening to conversations.

Go to the "follow! page, select Spanish. Have a look at the number of LingQs other Spanish learners have created. Then try and beat them.

Number of created LingQs (sooner or later) = number of words known. Sort of.

I have a quick question. What/where is the follow page?

@mja201 I only know words that I either know initially or promote to known status via daily flashcards. I only put a word as known when I can recall the word from memory, or recognize it in a passage. I also read over the same texts many times. I’ve come to realise that people who “know” more words than me in spanish maybe aren’t as “skilled” in the language from doing joint lessons, and so this leads me to believe that alot of people say they “know” words when they don’t necessarily. The known words is supposed to be a gauge of one’s progress, and as this is in my opinion the best gauge available I feel like I should actually put words as “known” only when I actually “know” them, instead of just kidding myself.

@ColinPhilipJohnstone: The follow page is the Friends page.

Of course it is! Thanks Vera, and sorry Colin.

I treat the Friends game as the high scores in a computer game. It makes LingQ more fun and helps me make faster progress.

@ Corin: " I feel like I should actually put words as “known” only when I actually “know” them, instead of just kidding myself."

Mmm. In my opinion you actually “know” a word once you have encountered it, in context, in speaking and reading about 4 times. So my advice is: double your reading and your listening (then try to double them again), and then you won’t have to worry too much about your LingQ statistics.

C’mon Corin! Let’s see you hit your first million words of Spanish reading!