Question about Language Comprehension?


I seem to have this problem where I can understand what I read or hear in the language as it comes in, but it doesn’t seem to stick after I’ve finished. I mean I could tell you what I was reading as I was reading it, but it almost feels like the weight of the words is lost unless I think of it in my own language, and if you asked me what it was about I could only tell you generally, even though in some cases I understand every word.
Has anyone else had this problem, and if so, do you have a solution? I’m wondering if it may just be that I need more time to get used to the language and develop an attachment to the words.


That’s normal and, in fact, even a good sign. Consider this: say you watch a movie in your native tongue. You understand everything, of course. After the movie is over a friend comes in and asks you what the movie was about. What do you do? Do you repeat the dialogue verbatim? Even a few excerpts? Chances are you don’t. Probably you don’t remember the exact words. You would even get the most memorable lines wrong:

You re-create the plot line mostly from scratch. It’s the same thing with foreign languages. You are training yourself to extract the meaning as you hear. That’s listening comprehension. If you want to talk about what you heard later on you must re-create the message from scratch. If you want to do so in your target language you must train to speak in it, that is, to convey the meaning that you have in your head in your new language. That’s a separate, although related, skill.

Ftornay where do you find these videos about language etc? I’m curious because they are oddly entertaining but very educational.

I follow a few YT channels that I find interesting. E.g. NativLang - YouTube
Anyway the one I linked above, I just searched for it on the spot. I knew that phenomenon and I just tried to find a video that would explain it in a nice way

Btw. Another great example:

This one I especially like because I remember a friend from Greece who lives here in Spain and once he was complaining that the Spanish translation of Star Trek series was wrong because it never used tha line :smiley:

I sometimes feel the same. You didn’t say how long you have been studying the language. I am a couple years into studying Russian and I’ve realized recently that I know and understand more than I think I do. On the other hand I recently started studying Polish, and I pretty much have the same experience you describe in that language.