Listening problems in Spanish!

Hola Todos,

I am having major difficulty with my listening! I feel like I am at the point now in my Spanish where I am able to have a somewhat okay conversation in Spanish and I am quite surprised as to how much I can say but when someone is speaking to me in Spanish I almost understand nothing!

I know this is a skill that takes a lot of time to improve but is there any actives I can do to improve my Listening skills baring in mind that I am still in the beginner stages! (passive listening is a no go currently)

I am doing all of my reading and listening on Lingq, clearing the page of all the blue words and clicking on the yellow words seeing what they are, then listening to that pages audio then repeating and before completing the lesson listening to all of the audio as once.

I try and do this for 2 hours everyday

I am thinking of just changing all of my watching materiel to Spanish with Spanish subtitles I know for a while I am not going to understand a lot if anything but as time progress and my known words increase I will be able to understand more!!

muchas gracias por el ayudo!!

Supongo que te puedo responder en español, ya que me toma un poco más de tiempo escribir en inglés.

Como hablante nativo, no estoy tan familiarizado con los problemas que puedan tener otras personas al aprender este idioma, pero se me vienen a la mente algunas ideas al leer lo que escribes.

Creo que sería importante preguntar lo siguiente, ¿el tipo de español con el que estás aprendiendo es el mismo que usan al hablarte?

Puede ser, en primer lugar, que lo que varíe es el acento. En este caso, sería cuestión de acostumbrarse al acento nuevo.

En seguro lugar, las estructuras gramaticales al igual que el vocabulario pueden variar dependiendo de qué zona proviene el hablante nativo. Alguien de México no habla igual que alguien de Argentina o España, por dar un ejemplo.

En tercer lugar, hay diferencias entre el lenguaje coloquial y el español “estándar”. Supongo que es más común que las personas que aprenden el español se familiaricen con la variedad estándar y por eso les pueda luego costar más trabajo entender otras variedades.

De momento esto es lo que se me ocurre, y creo que la solución es simplemente seguir exponiéndote a la lengua, y eventualmente te será más fácil entender.

Yes, listening comprehension takes a lot of time. It’s the trickiest part of language learning.
The main advice is to keep at it and just be patient. I’m aware that you already know this but it’s just the way it is. At less than 5K known words it’s just too early to expect a breakthrough in understanding.
Having said that. I find that listening to easy videos with a lot of visual clues help a lot. I advise to listen to video tutorials about topics you’re interested in. You may want to try it at this stage but you may also find that your vocabulary’s still small for that.
In the meantime you may want to try some material for Spanish learners. For example, this (admittedly silly) series:

Watch it with the subtitles off and try to understand what’s going on. Then try it again with the subtitles on. You may want to import them into Lingq. Then listen again once you understand the dialogues.

I’m sort of at the same stage as you maybe. When i listen to spanish on tv i can “hear” and “recognize” 80-90% of the words being spoken. I just can’t translate them fast enough in my head to comprehend the meaning sometimes. I think listening multiple times with spanish subtitles on, then multiple times with english translations on, then spanish subtitles again, and finally just the spoken spanish. By this time I finally can comprehend it. Then I do it again for another chunk. Its weird because each time I start a new chunk the vicious cycle repeats itself. I want to comprehend it the first time but I still can’t. I’m hoping that if I do this over and over and over again that eventually i’ll start understanding right away. I guess we’ll see :slight_smile:

@rjtrudel Oh, you’ll get there. Don’t doubt it. I know it seems impossible right now, almost a miracle but it does happen and quite predictably if you just keep going.
There are many factors that will eventually make understanding easier and, very importantly, faster so you can keep up with a native’s flow of speech. First, you won’t have to mentally “look up” the word and translate it. The meaning will just be apparent as it happens in your mother tongue. Mental translation takes a lot of time.
Second, you’ll access the meaning of not only individual words but of whole phrases or chunks of words, as a single unit. As long as you have to understand an utterance word by word you’ll never be able to catch up with it.
The third factor is very much related to the second one: you’ll be able to predict to a certain extent or at least narrow down the next few words based on the previous ones. The process will even work backwards so that you’ll understand unclear words after they’ve been uttered based on what’s been said afterwards.
And, of course, you’ll know a lot more words so you’ll be able to use a richer and more comprehensive context to help you decipher native speech.

And all of that will happen just by mere exposure to meaningful information in the language.
¡Ánimo y mucho éxito!

Sounds like you are on the right track. More specifically it sounds like you are making rapid progress, but it is still way, way too early for understanding conversations. You haven’t yet 1) accumulated a strong enough vocabulary of known words; and 2) haven’t spent as much time listening yet.

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yeah it is the truth! I went to a Spanish meet up yesterday night and I was quite surprised as to how much I could understand from people that where English but could also speak Spanish but when listening to a native Spanish speaker I found it super difficult!!! its true I need to keep spending time with the language and listening more!

Yes, don’t be too hard on yourself. I went to Ecuador in April. It was fun, but I understood only when people intentionally spoke very slowly and clearly to me. Lately I’ve been listening to more natural, conversational Spanish – unscripted stuff like talk shows and interviews (podcasts and videos). It’s hard for me to keep up with that kind of stuff but I keep trying. It is clearly different than authentic, native-level material that is scripted, like Radialistas or Curiosamente (both stuff I enjoy here on LingQ). For comfort, I go back to “News in Slow Spanish”

Ftornay makes some important points about what happens when a person transitions to understanding native speakers better. This isn’t automatic, however, and there are several steps you can take to help. For example, with the lessons on LingQ, read/listen to a lesson in which you know most of the words; only 10-15 are unknown. (This may be easier than you’ve been doing and that’s precisely the point. Picking something relatively easy will ensure that you are using the context to help you understand the new words/phrases.)

Review the links using the review functions until you know them at the 3 level in the same session. Listen to the lesson again straight through while you read along. Then just listen to it without reading it. (Close your eyes if necessary.) This forces you to really concentrate on what is being said. DO NOT TRY TO TRANSLATE IN YOUR HEAD. If necessary, listen to the lesson on your phone where you can decrease the speed to .75. How much do you understand? Can you write and/or describe out loud what you just heard in your own words in Spanish? It is important that you start with easier material, NOT the lessons that you are normally reading/listening to. Do this for several easier than normal lessons for variety. Go back to the first easy lesson a few days later and listen to it at normal speed. Do the same with other easier lessons. I would be very surprised if you didn’t improve.

You don’t have to do this for every lesson, but I do suggest just listening to easier material where you do know the vocabulary well (no reading). Start with .75 speed if necessary at first and then move to normal (1) speed. Watch/listen to anything on Youtube for beginners where the person is speaking in Spanish. Listen to a variety of people talk about the same thing. You will get accustomed to different accents and because you know the subject, it is easier to follow along. The clips don’t have to be long. Shut off the subtitles when you know the vocabulary! If you’re always reading them, you are not honing your listening skills.

I also suggest that when you know the Lingqs well on a lesson (at least at a 3 level), try doing only a dictation review in which you have to type in what you hear (shut off the cloze, multiple choice, etc. options). This is especially useful for phrases so you hear how the combination of words sounds. Again, you don’t have to do this for every word of every lesson but I would do it for the really common words and expressions (the ones that have high gold coin values) because you want to be able to understand them in context and in authentic speech. Learning a language involves multiple skills and not all progress at the same pace. If you want to understand speech better, you have to spend more time doing just that and from a variety of sources, starting with content that is much easier than what you are reading. Most importantly, DO NOT TRANSLATE IN YOUR HEAD. Just listen.

Can you specify to me based on your experience how many hours needed to understand conversations? I guess you understand almost everything in Spanish?

Thank you

Which conversations ? Teens on the bus ? Political debate ? Kids talking in cartoons ? Conversations on the radio or on TV ?

Big differences depending on a billion different factors.

My word count is much lower than yours but I can understand Spanish TV and shows pretty good at this point (80-90%) even without subtitles. What worked for me is watching soaps in Spanish (aka telenovelas). Yes, you may find them boring and repetitive but they use every-day simple language. I was fascinated by Argentinian culture and accent… so I picked a couple of Argentinian telenovelas (100-200+ episodes long! e.g. Vidas Robadas). Mexican or Colombian accent are much easier to understand after you are able to understand Argentinian (they tend to speak very fast with unique accent in addition to voseo). Initially, I used English subs, then Spanish subs… now I am working on using no subs at all. It’s still tough for me to follow the news or scientific, documentary programs in Spanish due to my limited vocabulary (that’s where lingq comes into play!). But I am used to native speech speed and patterns now and have no problems processing information without trying to translate every single word in my head as long as I know the vocabulary.

I do not get this, I understand you learned Spanish from another resource before you came to lingq, is it? Your status here do not show you can listen at that level!

Every bilingual face this situation. so, my suggestion would be just keep listening. Thnaks

yes, I’ve just started using lingq few days ago after a long hiatus from studying Spanish. Before that, my studies were mostly focused on listening to native materials as I mentioned above and I did some assimil at initial stages.

I have just reached 150 hours of listening this is both passive and active for example me listening at the gym and then me watching some series or youtube video and I strongly believe this I need to at least double what I have.