Working with words and phrasing that you have trouble hearing

Hi Everyone,

How do you approach words or phrases that you have difficulty hearing?

I am studying Russian and a portion of what I listen to just pops out and I hear it about as clear as English. However, there is a lot of phrasing that is mumbled (even when I know every word being said) and there are some words I simply cannot hear, even if I replay the words over and over. For example, my wife (who is Russian) transcribed a song for me about a year ago. I know it by heart. I can hear 90% of the song almost perfectly. But there is 10% I just can’t really hear even with knowing the words. Similarly, I started working on the Russian translation of Slaughterhouse 5 18 months ago. It was (is) wayyy past my level but I have listened to the first chapter well over 100 times and I feel like I have it almost memorized from the times I have read and listened to it. But, sadly, there are parts that are simply unclear to me no matter how hard I try.

Is this normal? Am I screwed? How do you handle situations when you are working with a text that you can’t understand? Do you keep listening over an over until you can hear it or do you move on hoping that magically some day it becomes comprehensible? Do you quit studying language and take up some far more enjoyable pastime like watching Magnum, PI reruns on Netflix?

This is causing me some serious stress and concern that I will never be able to hear the language properly.

Content edited

Imyirtseshem is 100% right, IMHO.

With Russian I have precisely the same problem that you do, davidked. When a passage is unclear in spite of all my determined listening, I let it go and move on to something else. Stressing doesn’t help, after a really determined effort has been made. Come back to the passage in a month or so, and you often will be pleased to find that you do understand the passage. Sometimes the brain has to work on things w/o being pushed.

You can also try slowing the passage down, using a sound file editor such as audacity, but it seems to me that what you are doing is plenty.

Actually, I suspect that there is maybe 3% of the Russian recordings available to me that I will never be able to hear clearly. Maybe I’m just getting old. But about 97% is miles better than nothing.

[corrected spelling of unspellable name. ;)]