Listening

Hi all–I’m finding it boring to listen to things more than one or two times. Of course my listening skills are crap. The stuff that is interesting is hard to understand without a transcript. Advice?

I just started taking the harder stuff and slowing it down. Also I tried reading along while slowed so after i speed it up on a second listen. If you find it truly interesting it shouldnt be a struggle to listen to it more than once, though I am guilty of not doing it. I just find when I am interested it isn’t a chore

1 Like

I’d personally say don’t worry too much about it. Developing any skill, but particularly listening, is a marathon rather than a sprint. To get good at listening it needs many hours and repetitive listening and is a gradual rather than quick process. It is slow, but over time it gets easier.

As I see it, the difficulty with listening is:

  • you are just hearing sounds. When you are reading, it’s neatly broken into sentences and paragraphs - listening you have to fill all that in for yourself. When you are starting out, all you are hearing is thee phonemes. You have nothing to connect those phonemes to words
  • in fluent speech, we use “connected speech”. We also tend to connect words in sentences together, and we may not necessarily do that consistently. But we have a good enough grasp of English listening to still be able to work that out. In reading, the words are already spaced out into sentences, so you don’t have to worry about that.
  • let’s not even mention accents and dialects as well…
  • we probably do more lip reading than we think (as we have recently found, we have all found it more difficult to hear through someone talking in a mask, even in our native languages).

To become good at listening, you therefore need:

  • a large vocabulary, that you can recollect very quickly
  • a good grasp of the grammar and sentence structure of the language
  • lots of practise at listening to a variety of different content, to hear the intonation and recognising the connected speech

The solution to this is - lots of listening and reading. I think that listening takes the following stages:

  1. it all sounds like noise
  2. you start to hear some words amongst the noise
  3. you can pick out more words, even if you don’t know what they mean
  4. you start to pick up more words
  5. you start to connect words into sentences

In the beginner phase, I would personally invest a lot of time doing repetitive (30+ times) listening to short conversations, both with and without the transcript. It’s not a particularly fun activity, it’s does feel like a grind, sometimes but it really lays the foundational listening skills and will allow you to listen to more complex texts as you progress into the intermediate stage.

Just keep going. Keep listening lots, keep listening with the transcripts - that is not a problem, it’s necessary as you are learning. The more you can listen and read along, the more you will improve. Not forgetting that the more you grow your vocab, the more you will understand.

Good luck!

2 Likes

Thank you for your reply! I’m somewhere between 3 and 4! Just frustrating some days! Thank you for your encouragement.

" You are just hearing sounds"… “we probably do more lip reading than we think”

I developed my Russian listening comprehension mostly by watching videos outside of Lingq before I could understand much. The visual cues mean I’m not just hearing sounds, and if I do rely on subconscious lip reading, that’s there. Choose visually interesting videos in a category that interests you if boredom is your issue.

My grasp of grammar was pretty good, carrying over from school a long time ago, and I had okay-ish vocabulary from reading on Lingq. But I had never listened to native speakers going full-tilt. When I later started German here at Lingq, I decided to chose beginner lessons with audio to try to jump-start my listening comprehension from the get-go. I don’t often listen repeatedly, and I don’t usually try to understand the audio track without reading simultaneously. When/if I get enough vocab+grammar to start watching videos off of Lingq, I should be at a better starting point ear-wise than I was with Russian.

It’s too early for me to report on the success of this approach with German. Frankly, my German progress has stalled lately because I find it so much more easy and enjoyable to consume Russian. My listening comprehension has gone from practically nil to the point where I watch Russian Youtube w/o subtitles for entertainment a few hours every day. It took time, but it’s cool to be able to “work” on my " learning" by entertaining myself. :slight_smile:

2 Likes

I’m a little confused here. How can it be boring/interesting if you can’t understand it? Are you watching videos (visually interesting?) or just listening to audio?

I think in the early stages of developing listening comprehension the enjoyment comes from:

  1. can I even hear what word was said (whether or not I know the meaning)
  2. understand the words’ meanings
  3. understand the meaning of the sentence/material in general

Once comprehension is good enough then filtering material by how interesting the meaning of the material is becomes relevant, at least for me.

1 Like

If your listening skills are just starting to develop and you can´t really understand much when you listen, focus on clicking on words in the text to hear them being pronounced. Then you can also read while you listen and just stop when you have to, just pick something fairly simple to read and listen to at the same time.