Slower audio versus actual native audio

Hi everyone, I’m almost done with my first month of my French 90 day challenge, and I feel like I’m making good progress. The only difficult part for me right now is that I’m using the input method to learn for the first time in my adult life, and the only type of language learning that I’ve experienced to date has been the rigid class environment that allows for well defined, measurable goals. So, I am going on blind faith that I will actually become a good listener, reader, and eventually speaker! But since I’m modeling my learning approach someone after Mr. Kaufmann, I’m not too worried about not seeing positive results. I have to admit that, the rigid classroom environment experience that I’m accustomed to is probably limiting my learning growth, since I’m spending lots of time reviewing lessons and attempting to memorize every new word, rather than moving one when things are still fuzzy and being able to accept greater ambiguity. So I’m working on that one.

When building listening skills, I understand that normal speed audio spoken by natives is probably the best way to build listening comprehension. So is my payback going to be much more limited if I listen to slower, more well pronounced audio that is probably not real world spoken French? Should I just reserve that type of audio when I’m building vocabulary, or should I eventually avoid it as much as possible? I guess I’m just wondering what will be the most productive path that I should follow, if there is such a path that can be recommended to everyone in general.


Just some thoughts…I know what you mean by the difficulty of transitioning from recent school/university study to the LingQ way! I think I spent my first year at least on LingQ trying to still nail down/memorise a word before I’d make it “known”! Especially with Japanese, I didn’t want to make a word “kinown” unless I could handwrite it too, since handwriting was a requirement in my studies year before last. I still find it hard to get rid of that mentality of thinking I have to have an active knowledge of every word.

But did you notice, (at least in my case), that your classroom environment kept you so flat out with long vocabulary lists, grammar, weekly tests, assignments, projects, exams…so busy you could hardly find the time to scratch? And maybe you’d even ace exams, but still afterwards find yourself unable to understand native speakers at normal speed, and to hold a conversation you hadn’t prepped beforehand? Also, the textbook stuff didn’t really cover the more natural colloquial speech or idioms…

In my case, I could write about rapidly expanding technology in Japan (or whatever I put the time into learning how to write), or discuss how I used to go to the gym 3 times a week before fibromyalgia struck me down (yep, I knew the word) - yet I wasn’t able to say basic things like, “Oh wow! That’s freaking incredible!” or what-not.

For the past couple of months, I have “Stevie Wonder” words ^^ up on a fluorescent yellow post-it above my desk, where he alludes to the “down-up” & “top-down” approach - this I especially follow for French audio:

"Just forge ahead & learn words & get used to the language. Cover a lot of ground, some new, some old. We need to explore new things, pushing the boundaries, while regularly reviewing the basics, many times during the learning process. "

I can’t see anything wrong with listening to both slow-speed and native speed, except I recommend a higher ratio of native speed listening. I’m no polyglot (yet^^), but after a while with patience, and certainly not overnight, the “beginner” stuff begins to sound agonisingly slowwww.

I want to move on to native content fast as possible. There is where you want to spend your time. When you start speaking you can do some of the slow lessons, to get some ideas of how to put together phrases, reinforce grammatical structures/ pronunciation etc. I think this way of learning, is slower in the beginning, but it do accelerate monitored over a longer period. But of course there is no one size fits all.

I found the exact same issues that you did. Then again, I can safely say that I didn’t make the best out of class effort to try to fully learn French. My French was mostly practiced in French classes, and at home I’d just re-study the same stuff for assignments and tests. I’ll try to increase my native listening over the next 2 months of my 3 month challenge. It’s hard for me to pick up all the short forms, liaisons, etc., that are spoken.

The argument against “slow” content isn’t really scientific. Mainly it comes from people’s perceived teaching or learning ideology/prejudices. A lot of native content is actually slower than most “slow” language learning content, for example; university lectures, or, even how people, who are intimate, will often talk to each other. So long as the content is teaching you vocab, and you are enjoying it, and it is natural enough, then there is not a lot to fear. Pretty quickly, you will move past it, anyway.

My thoughts…The “input method” is based on or influenced by Krashen’s “comprehensible input” theory. “Comprehensible” is an important word. The theory says that you acquire language when you are exposed to input that is or seems to you to be comprehensible. We are not just trying to acquire vocabulary; we are trying to acquire grammar, and for that we have to be able to hear the details.

So any speech that is too fast for us to hear the details isn’t helping us to acquire - unless, of course, we are following a script which helps us to get all that stuff that will fly by otherwise.

Of course, you might have another reason for listening to “fast” speech - like challenging yourself to recognize words in unfamiliar contexts. That is often fun to do.

However I don’t think we need to fear speech that is “too slow”. When things become “too slow” for you, they start to be irritating, and then, as iaing says, you move on because you aren’t enjoying them any longer.

I’m feeling didactic today - as you can see:)


Thanks for the thoughtful insights everyone. I will work with content that’s comfortable for me, and I’m sure as I comprehend more quickly, I’ll move on to bigger and better things.

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All kinds of input are useful. But everything is good in due time. We go ahead from words to phrases, from a ‘slow’ speed to a normal speed, from little dialogues to movies in a new language.
Keep your own pace and enjoy your learning - it’s the most important.

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