1. noweating

    I would agree with you that it's not an efficient way to learn.

    I find it interesting to consider what the brain does learn without any conscious effort.

    I've been exposed to 2 languages a lot which I haven't learnt yet so I can comment on this. I have had Persian friends since school so over the last 20 years I've heard a lot of Farsi (Persian), however I maintain my same 10 word vocabulary as I decided long ago that due to the lack of comprehensive courses and a lack of motivation (they all speak English) I wasn't going to learn their language. The interesting thing is that because I've heard so much of it I can recognise individual words (as in “I recognise that word, I know how it's pronounced and I've heard it before”) without understanding what it means. I think this means if I were to decide to learn the language in the future that it would be easier to listen to conversations (as I already recognise individual words) and also to pronounce them. I think it's possible that the brain actually rehearses the pronounciation of individual words through micro-muscle movements which can be an important element of learning many things with a physical element – in this case – speaking.

    The other interesting thing is I can “listen” to snippets of conversation and guess fairly accurately the content without actually understanding any of the component words.

  2. Claire

    Just listening is not enough but it definitely helps you improve your conversational skills, I tried this product that's audio and visuals and I really enjoy it. Listening to a language helps you get used to the tone of voice and pronunciation. I'm living in Buenos Aires, Argentina and it was really hard to get used to the pronunciation and the product did help… this is their website if you'd like to check it out http://www.generallinguistics.com/learn-spanish

  3. Parrish777

    This method alone would not work. Only a child could get away with that! As an adult we learn differently. However, if you are studying the language consistency in some format, than you can benefit for some passive learning. For example, being around people, or watching movies. Yet again, I consider this as a benefit only when you are at the same time engaged in structured learning.

  4. robmclark

    It may not be enough but it is a very important supplement. Just as you practice muscle memory when learning to dance or play tennis, your ear starts honing in on nuances that is has never needed to care about before Neural wiring and rewiring takes place and you can “hear” the language sounds even better. I think your brain wakes up if it is bombarded with enough foreign language dialogue. I am no expert but that is what I think happens.
    Those unwilling to learn will minimize exposure, and ignore the exposure they get. You can get by with English in Denmark, so your friend did. I am sure he knows a few phrases he didn't even try to learn though, even if he never cared to speak them.

    Listening to a foreign language constantly, is like trying to remove a piece of tape from packaging. At first you you scrape a little edge and try widen it. Once you get enough to grab you slowly try to peel back more. If you listen to a language long enough (like on tv) you will get the little edges of the language-hello, no, yes, sir, goodbye, etc.” With those, you can peel back a little more each time. Learning a language that way would surely be a gruelingly slow process though….

  5. Michael

    My ideas below are suitable for practising listening comprehension and
    speaking (through self-check) when learning any language.
    In order
    to have good skills in listening comprehension for example in English and to speak
    it fluently, a learner should practise listening to audio and video aids
    in English (dialogues, thematic texts and narrative stories) with
    subsequent speaking. It is preferable to have English transcripts of
    audio and video material. I suggest that learners practise listening
    comprehension with subsequent speaking on a variety of topics and with
    materials for all levels on a regular long-term basis in the following

    1. Listen to each sentence several times. Alongside listening see and read each sentence in the transcript.

    2. Make sure you understand everything clearly in each sentence in terms of pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar.

    Without looking into the transcript, try to repeat each sentence (say
    it aloud) exactly as you have heard it. Being able to repeat a sentence
    means that a learner has remembered its content.

    4. Listen to
    that particular conversation or text (story) in short paragraphs or
    chunks, say each paragraph aloud, and compare to the transcript.

    Listen to the whole conversation or story without interruption several
    times, and try to tell the content of the whole conversation or text
    (story) you’ve heard. You can write key words and phrases, or main ideas
    as a plan, or questions on that particular dialogue or text to make
    easier for you to convey the content in English. It is important to
    compare what you’ve said to the transcript.

    It is a good idea to record one’s speech on audio aid to compare it with the original audio/video recording.
    believe that for practising listening comprehension and speaking in
    English it is a good idea to include various practical topics for
    potential needs of learners with comprehensive vocabulary on each topic.
    As you know the content of materials matters a great deal.
    thematic dialogues, questions and answers on conversation topics,
    thematic texts (informative texts and narrative stories), grammatical
    usage sentences (in the form of dialogues and texts), and sentences with
    difficult vocabulary on various topics, especially with fixed phrases
    and idioms can be used in practising listening comprehension in English.

    It’s possible and effective to practise listening comprehension and
    speaking in English on one’s own this way through self-check using
    transcripts, books, audio and video aids to provide additional solid
    practice and to accelerate mastering of English. 

  6. Lambo

    The method works alone. Those that live for long period of times in foreign countries and come out with little speaking ability are generally exposed to less actual foreign language input than is typically imagined. Say you have 10 conversations in a given day, both work-related and shopping related. I’m guessing, on average, that if these conversations aren’t supplemented with something, you’re looking at less than an hour a day, at the most of actual listened to material. That’s about 30 hours a month and only 360 hours a year. If we take ALG estimates seriously (and I do), that’s about a half as much as you need to listen to before you even start speaking a language that’s close to your own. If the language is Chinese and your native language is English, it might to make more than 1000 hours of such listening. And of course, this is assumes once again that this input even reaches 1 hour a day (probably more like 10/15 minutes) If you want to isolate yourself in a foreign country from the language, you can definitely do that.

  7. Lambo

    In fact, this method is preferable, because in this method foreign words and phrases aren’t linked to first language correspondents. Porque does not equal but, and lugar does not equal place. Not only might these translations have differences in meaning, but the cultural, emotional, use associations definitely have the potential to be different. When you just listen or watch (tv), you learn not to associate Spanish with English, but Spanish with Spanish. You learn not translate in your head and let the words just flow by. Gradually natural learning emerges. I recommend the ALG website and any of David Long’s YouTube videos for more information.

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