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Do you think that active listening is a good way to learn a language?


Trellum
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I'm taking a course that uses active listening a lot, it's an official course I need in order to pass a test.  They use active listening as their main method and nothing else, yes, I repeat phrases over and over.  At first I thought: how will this help me learn to build phrases that make sense?  But surprise!  Today I finished the course and yeah, even tho I can assure you that I don't speak the language fluently or can build a lot sentences... I've a good grasp of it now! 

Yes, the word order is no longer so confusing to me, and it seems the language is coming to me more naturally when I try to speak it.  I really need to practice it daily tho. I need to speak it. 

How have your experiences with active listening been? Good? Bad? Recommend it?

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I've never heard of this method before but I can imagine it does work since I grew up in a household that speaks a different language and even though I was never expected to speak it myself I eventually learned a lot of common phrases just by being around to hear them. The only thing I would have to work on after that had I chosen to use that language was the pronunciation but I think the most important part was learning the language.

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Baburra... amazingly enough most of us learnt our mother language by active listening.  That is how we all learn our language, that's the method used for children and the one that is supposedly to work best.  To be honest this method isn't one of my favorites, because I really need some visual help when I'm trying to learn!

With adults active listening isn't so effective, but if you have the time and patience... it can improve your language skills greatly! It did with me.

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I've never heard of active listening. Is it just repeating phrases over and over or is there more to it?

Yeah, that is practically it. The course I'm taking is like that, and let me tell you isn't so bad. After all (brace yourself) that is how children learn their mother language.  Yup, we learnt our mother language by actively listening our parents and those around us. But of course children are better at learning languages... us adults? Not so much, hence I'm not sure actively listening is that good for people my age.

I haven't heard of that method before, how is it done? I assume you get a good grasp of the word through constant repetition?

Most of the time it's a full sentence. In this course you can also view the words separately.

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I believe that active listening can actually be a good way to learn a language because in general if you keep hearing something over and over it automatiacally sticks with you. It also reminds me of when we used a method called 'Dictation' in primary school. Our teacher would read several sentences at once and we would have to recall them exactly and write them. It was a hard task but a great way to develope listening skill.

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Hey all.

Well, though I've also not heard of "active listening" throughout my 30+ years as an ESL teacher, I suspect that I know what Trellum experienced in the class; it was actually one of the core activities that I used throughout my career.

To describe (in just a few words, hard for me! ha) what I did:

Students will not be able to comprehend strings of sounds (utterances) until they have developed a "sound bank" of their own. This "sound bank" is a set of utterances (usually full sentences) which help the student when trying to recognize sounds that they hear. Just sitting and listening will not contribute to the development of this "sound bank"-- that is a passive activity. Students have to get the muscles moving, and those will be the mouth muscles.

Now, this will not be simply repeating sentences over and over again. It will be sound manipulation exercise, meant to strengthen articulation muscles as well as to help overcome obstacles when trying to string sounds together. There will be a great deal of substitution involved, so a basic pattern may be worked upon, creating the base and words will be changed. A very simple exercise might be:

It's a book. (chair) It's a chair. (table) It's a table. (cup) It's a cup.

The emphasis would be on the rhythm of the utterance, the stringing together of words (it would never be: IT (PAUSE) IS (PAUSE) A (PAUSE) CUP, but rather [IT sa CAP].

No matter how much you wiggle your ears, you will not improve your listening comprehension through passively listening to speech. You will have to produce that speech as close as you can to the expected pronunciation in order to develop that "sound bank" (and not individual sounds, again, utterances!) that you will use to recognize what you are hearing.

Perhaps because the student is actively doing something to improve comprehension, the course referred to in the OP was called "active listening", though I find that term kind of misleading and more marketing than descriptive of the process. Kind of like the "Natural Method" which was anything but "natural"....ha.

peace,

revel.

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  • 5 months later...

I think I have already stumbled across this learning method called "Active Listening" when I took the short course in Teaching English as a Second Language. And yes, I do believe this would be an effective way of acquiring knowledge since both speaking and listening skills of the students are being honed. Anyway, I am glad this totally worked on your end.

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Students will not be able to comprehend strings of sounds (utterances) until they have developed a "sound bank" of their own. This "sound bank" is a set of utterances (usually full sentences) which help the student when trying to recognize sounds that they hear. Just sitting and listening will not contribute to the development of this "sound bank"-- that is a passive activity. Students have to get the muscles moving, and those will be the mouth muscles.

I recall in my Elementary Nihongo class that I have to listen to voice clips in order to determine what is being said, andi indicate whether it is true or false.  Without developing this personal "sound bank," my Nihongo listening skills are not yet developed fully to the point where I can instantly recognize what is being said.  Simply listening to the words isn't enough.  That is why my choukai (listening) skills aren't good yet.

As to the English language though, I can instantly recognize what I see and describe, and it is less difficult than Nihongo.

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Every person learns differently from others. What may work for you would not work for the kind of learner that I am. Learning for me could be quite easier if the lessons are presented in a well structured manner with complete notes, reference, exercises. If there is a good interaction with the teacher and with other students the better for me. 

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Hey all.

 

Well, though I've also not heard of "active listening" throughout my 30+ years as an ESL teacher, I suspect that I know what Trellum experienced in the class; it was actually one of the core activities that I used throughout my career.

 

To describe (in just a few words, hard for me! ha) what I did:

 

Students will not be able to comprehend strings of sounds (utterances) until they have developed a "sound bank" of their own. This "sound bank" is a set of utterances (usually full sentences) which help the student when trying to recognize sounds that they hear. Just sitting and listening will not contribute to the development of this "sound bank"-- that is a passive activity. Students have to get the muscles moving, and those will be the mouth muscles.

 

Now, this will not be simply repeating sentences over and over again. It will be sound manipulation exercise, meant to strengthen articulation muscles as well as to help overcome obstacles when trying to string sounds together. There will be a great deal of substitution involved, so a basic pattern may be worked upon, creating the base and words will be changed. A very simple exercise might be:

 

It's a book. (chair) It's a chair. (table) It's a table. (cup) It's a cup.

 

The emphasis would be on the rhythm of the utterance, the stringing together of words (it would never be: IT (PAUSE) IS (PAUSE) A (PAUSE) CUP, but rather [IT sa CAP].

 

No matter how much you wiggle your ears, you will not improve your listening comprehension through passively listening to speech. You will have to produce that speech as close as you can to the expected pronunciation in order to develop that "sound bank" (and not individual sounds, again, utterances!) that you will use to recognize what you are hearing.

 

Perhaps because the student is actively doing something to improve comprehension, the course referred to in the OP was called "active listening", though I find that term kind of misleading and more marketing than descriptive of the process. Kind of like the "Natural Method" which was anything but "natural"....ha.

 

peace,

revel.

Actually this post wasn't meant to be on the English learning section, it was supposed to be in the general language learning. I hope a moderator can put it back in the place where it belongs.   And yes, the course I am STILL using to learn dutch IS based on ACTIVE LISTENING. I should know, because I used to be a teacher as well.  At first I thought it wasn't working so well for me, but guess what? I started from zero and now I think I am on the level A1 according to the EU guidelines.   Active listening does work for some people, basically you learn almost intuitively, by listening and repeating sentences and the look up the meaning. The repeat the process over and over. I'd have preferred a course with a more user friendly method, with at least some clear grammar bits and explanations, but no 100% active listening right there. It's the ''Naar Nederland'' book. 

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I think I have already stumbled across this learning method called "Active Listening" when I took the short course in Teaching English as a Second Language. And yes, I do believe this would be an effective way of acquiring knowledge since both speaking and listening skills of the students are being honed. Anyway, I am glad this totally worked on your end.

Thanks :)  I'm actually a  bit confused to see this this thread in the general English learning section, I am almost certain I originally posted it on the general  language learning one.  I'd have never posted this thread on this section, since i wasn't referring to an English course, but a dutch course.  I'm feeling tempted to report this thread, because it doesn't even belong here D: And to be honest I wasn't very happy when I opened the book and  noticed it was one of those active listening ones, but things have gone well :)   It gets so boring sometimes, but this method is not as a bad as I thought, I'm no longer a baby who can learn languages by just listening, but I've done well despite that, hehehehe.  Not bad!

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Learning Dutch    is hard, as it's a combination of French, German, English and some Scandinavian languages. While I think it's pretty easy to learn some basic words, if you don't learn as well how they are written, it will be impossible for you to learn it properly.

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Absolutely. For me personallythough,  I lean towards listening to songs and the conversations in movies/TV series for the definition of 'active listening', so not exactly constant repetition. I think constant repetition would work nicely as well though. It's not the way that I prefer, but it's one of the ways I (and I'm pretty sure, many other people) often end up doing without even noticing. I've caught myself repeating a certain word or sentence multiple times to understand it. It's usually only a few times though, maybe like 5-7 times at most. 

That being said, it just hit me that listening to songs could also fall into the category. If you listen to a song on repeat, you're listening to the same thing over and over again, no? And after a while you just know the words. 

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Repeating phrases over and over again = active listening? I could be wrong, but it sounds like someone just decided to name their method "active listening". I've heard a lot of discussion regarding active vs passive listening. Active listening is when you pay full attention while watching TV, movies, listening to the radio, etc. Passive listening is when you have something playing in the background, or you just don't pay full attention to what you're listening to. I'm not a linguist so I don't know if these are linguistic terms.

Back to repeating phrases over and over again - is it effective? If that's all there is to it, I wouldn't say it's useless, but it certainly isn't very well rounded. There are 7 "skills" I think about when learning languages: reading, writing, conversation, listening, pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar. All skills reinforce each other, but that doesn't mean you can neglect skills and get the same result. In fact, I find that well rounded learning methods outperform unbalanced ones. The OP method doesn't include reading, writing or conversation, and may not be very strong in vocabulary or grammar. It's probably a good technique for improving listening and pronunciation, but that falls short of being a good language learning method imo.

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Repeating phrases over and over again = active listening? I could be wrong, but it sounds like someone just decided to name their method "active listening". I've heard a lot of discussion regarding active vs passive listening. Active listening is when you pay full attention while watching TV, movies, listening to the radio, etc. Passive listening is when you have something playing in the background, or you just don't pay full attention to what you're listening to. I'm not a linguist so I don't know if these are linguistic terms.

Back to repeating phrases over and over again - is it effective? If that's all there is to it, I wouldn't say it's useless, but it certainly isn't very well rounded. There are 7 "skills" I think about when learning languages: reading, writing, conversation, listening, pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar. All skills reinforce each other, but that doesn't mean you can neglect skills and get the same result. In fact, I find that well rounded learning methods outperform unbalanced ones. The OP method doesn't include reading, writing or conversation, and may not be very strong in vocabulary or grammar. It's probably a good technique for improving listening and pronunciation, but that falls short of being a good language learning method imo.

It's weird, because in the manual of said course they clearly mentioned active listening.  And given the fact after this course the person is supposed to reach a A1 level, I don't think it's so bad.   This is a government course you need to study in order to pass that test... well, I really have no choice.But it hasn't been as bad as I thought it would be.  You hear, repeat and complete exercises. The layout is the same, it's a bit boring. The text comes with a word list too, but guess what? Despite that I have already reached level A1.

 But I will surely need check some grammar books, I was so mad at first because there were no grammar bits.  Just a few sentences at the end of the lesson, with some bits of it in bold, they were intended to serve as grammar points... but they weren't related to that lesson in particular. 

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Active listening is a good way to learn a new language but the proof of the pudding is in the eating and in this case speaking the language is most important. After all understanding a language is of not of much use if no one can understand what you are saying. 

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If I'm not mistaken this is basically Pimsleur's approach/method right? Repeating phrases and words over and over again.

It won't really teach you the language - meaning grammar and reading and all that - but it is a big step towards fluency early on. By fluency here I mean the ability to express yourself, react fast, and sound natural.

I mean you could reach native speaker level fluency without ever touching any textbooks. But usually these kinds of people don't know how to read and write.

Anyway this is really how I got started with most of my linguistic adventures. If you're looking up how the words are written as you're going through your "active listening" course then I think it will make an excellent start. Also, based on my experience, it will make any further learning of the language that much easier.

Cheers

Richard

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I know you say you meant to post it in the Dutch section, but I have a feeling this method would work for most if not all languages. I mean, I've never learnt this way, but I'd be happy to go down this route. Even if it's probably a little tedious, I bet it's a very effective way of learning. I think you'll probably agree that even if you don't see yourself as being fluent in Dutch, you made strides in learning via this method, right?  Well done :)

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If I'm not mistaken this is basically Pimsleur's approach/method right? Repeating phrases and words over and over again.

Although Pimsleur does involve repeating words and phrases, unless the OP left out some information about the method, this isn't the same. Pimsleur is mainly translation and repetition, and also includes some basic information about pronunciation and grammar. Here is more or less how Pimsleur goes:

Recording: The woman says "how are you?"(in L1)

Learner: How are you? (in L2)

Recording: How are you? (in L2)

Learner: How are you? (in L2)

Recording: The man replies "I'm fine thanks"(in L1)

Learner: I'm fine thanks. (in L2)

Recording: I'm fine thanks. (in L2)

Learner: I'm fine thanks. (in L2)

etc.

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Although Pimsleur does involve repeating words and phrases, unless the OP left out some information about the method, this isn't the same. Pimsleur is mainly translation and repetition, and also includes some basic information about pronunciation and grammar.

Wait you're saying this "active listening" is just repeating the sentence without any context (grammar, translation, etc)?

I guess I would have to listen to the actual thing to have a clear picture..

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It sounds like you mean just listening to the language in order to learn it. Like hearing people speak it or trying to learn it from a television show. This could be very difficult depending on the language and I wouldn't recommend learning that way. It might be easier for young children to pick up on stuff like that when they don't know anything else. However, if you're already fluent in a language and trying to learn a new one, things could get too confusing or take too much time.

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