I have come across a news article suggesting that just listening to the language without even understanding it is enough to help you learn it. First of all, I don’t quite think so. Why? Well, there are at least three reasons.
First of all, where’s the evidence? There’s an article, okay, that’s a start. What about , experiments with control groups, explanations how exactly that works (what parts of the brain are involved in this and why exactly this happens)? I don’t know, perhaps the person asserting this has some evidence in his thesis but I wasn’t able to find any good evidence in the article so it remains a bear assertion. And the fact that it’s a article from a newspaper in the New Zealand that I haven’t ever heard about doesn’t add much credibility to it.
Second, I know quite a lot of counter examples. For example, a friend of mine has gone to lives in Denmark for more than half a year already and he doesn’t speak a word in Danish. I meet people fairly often who live in the country and don’t speak the language (even though they are exposed to it frequently). I have recently heard a story where a guy has lived in a country for ten years and he hasn’t managed to learn the language. There are a lot of other examples.
Third, it doesn’t quite make sense. I can imagine how knowing some and then listening to the language can help you sometimes guess the meaning of certain words from the context and slowly build up your knowledge. I can imagine how watching people speak directly where they use gestures and body language, etc. can help you pick up new words and expressions. However, I can’t imagine how knowing nothing (or knowing just a little) you could call , say, listening to the radio in the language an efficient way to learn. Moreover, have you ever tried doing that? For me personally, if I don’t understand what I’m hearing, after a few minutes my brain would simply tune out all the noise and focus my attention elsewhere (just like it gets tuned out when you are watching a movie.
I would rather spend my time learning some solid basics and moving from there to listening and watching.
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