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Accelerated Listening Comprehension?

 Language Learning Forum : General discussion Post Reply
Senior Member
United States
Joined 3547 days ago

115 posts - 217 votes 
Speaks: Italian, English*, Spanish, Portuguese, French
Studies: Japanese

 Message 1 of 4
29 March 2016 at 9:23am | IP Logged 
My greatest challenge has always been with all of my languages my listening comprehension.

My Portuguese is pretty decent, but I cannot catch every word someone is saying, and a lot of time I rely on

What I did was I started watching "Youtubers" and listening to their quickly spoken, "funny" monologues.

At first I didn't understand all that much, but I spent about an hour and a half slowing down, repeating, taking
notes, and paying attention to prosody with a 6 minute video. I knew 95% the words, I understood the
grammar, and if it was written down I could breeze through it. But I could barely understand the meaning of
70% of the utterances that were said.

I worked with that one 6 minute video for about an hour and a half, really applying myself and focusing on
learning the content of that video well enough that I could understand every single word when played back at
full speed relatively effortlessly.

Then I moved on to a second video by the same Youtube and did the same thing.

After about 3 hours of very focused applied studying and analysis of these videos.
I watched a third video by that same Youtube and was able to go from understanding 70% of what he was
saying to understanding everything he was communicating, (although not fully understanding on a
grammatical/linguistic level the function of every word in that sentence, and not being able to
recognize/understand a couple of 3-4 words utterances etc.)

I went as far as to take multiple sentences, slow the audio down to half speed, and transcribe in the IPA the
exact sounds that were said.

I focused on three things: Word stress, sentence stress, and how words meshed together in fluent speech.
Also, I paid attention the how a certain word when stressed in the sentence, can be pronounced much
differently when unstressed in a sentence. I treated it as if I was learning the rhythm to a new song.

My listening comprehension improved drastically in these three and half-ish hours, more than it would have
improved in over the course of watching 10 hours of telenovelas.

I shadowed the select few phrases at half speed in order to get my mouth used to the unfortunate reality that
what is written is not a perfect representation of what is said, and that an accompanying text can cause you
imagine that certain phonemes are present when they're really not.

I learned the words without any text present in order to avoid the text prejudicing what I was hearing. I kept a
clear mind and allowed myself to hear the sounds of the language without thinking about what the word
sounds like in my own head, or what it looks like on paper.

Let me know what you think! I've done this before for Spanish and it significantly improved my listening
comprehension in just a 3-4 hour span. Although, this may not be a suitable method for people who don't
enjoy doing analytical, "boring" work. As most people would find this quite unbearably boring.

If you have any advice, or anything to add, please let me know! I am always looking for ways to improve my
weakest skill in all my languages, listening comprehension!


7 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 2687 days ago

502 posts - 1092 votes 
Studies: German

 Message 2 of 4
29 March 2016 at 9:50am | IP Logged 
Hello, Danny:

This is truly an interesting post and deserves greater discussion. However, while the HTLAL forum continues to serve as a highly-valued archive of several years of very interesting discussions, for the most part, the "active members" have moved on to the new REPLACEMENT forum A LANGUAGE LEARNER'S FORUM I suggest that you register on the new forum and post your comments there, as well.

Edited by Speakeasy on 29 March 2016 at 9:54am

4 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
United States
Joined 3400 days ago

581 posts - 977 votes 
Speaks: English*, Hawaiian, Tagalog
Studies: Spanish

 Message 3 of 4
08 April 2016 at 6:43am | IP Logged 
What Speakeasy said about htlal.

And, I've played around a bunch with speeding up the audio on audiobooks over the past
few months, and I've found it surprisingly effective. Of course it's not the same as
listening to input from someone speaking rapidly and emotionally, but I have a theory
that I miss things when listening to a telenovela is that I miss the bursts of speech.
Even if the "average" speech in a movie or TV show is at about 83 words per minutes,
sudden emotional bursts are at 250 words per minute, or so it appears. If you can get to
the point that you can understand a novel being read at 250 wpm, it makes TV/movies
easier by far.
1 person has voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 3079 days ago

747 posts - 1122 votes 
Speaks: Cantonese*, English, Mandarin
Studies: French

 Message 4 of 4
08 April 2016 at 1:30pm | IP Logged 
When it comes to watching videos, subtitles is invaluable. There are videos with and videos without. In the beginning, it is tempting to find videos with subtitles. After the first few times, try repeating the video without subtitles if possible or just listen to the same dialogue without watching the screen. In a country like Canada we recognize both English & French as official languages. If you watch TV programs in either of the 2 languages you can press the [CC] button on your remote to get captions for the hearing impaired.

A language like Cantonese once considered a "dialect of Chinese" share a lot of common words & phrases with standard Mandarin Chinese but not all. A lot of times you watch a TV program / video in Cantonese, the text is in standard Chinese and the text would show the correct meaning but doesn't match the dialogue.

A movie that is in English I sometimes find watching it with subtitles easier to pick up words & phrases when a person talks quietly or very fast. Watching videos on YouTube you can go to Settings and adjust your Speed.

1 person has voted this message useful

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