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No, I don't talk about professional transcription since if you are proficient in transcription you don't need anymore to learn the language. But the transcription can be used as a way of teaching. It combines active behavior (writing what you hear) and passive behavior (hearing is a "passive" task, often) where you can't ask for details and so on.

Example. Catch a conversation, go in a street speaking your target language, check a TV show or any movie or theater doing something in your target language. Then, try, as you can, to hear the words and write the result of what you heard. Usually, as you won't try much to interpret the meaning, you will be focused on hearing the right word, yielding better performance.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have tried something similar to this.  I failed.  I usually can't catch words in a foreign language unless I actually know them already.  It usually sounds like a jumbled mess of noise.  I have accidentally picked out words that I already know and tried using them to figure out the rest of a sentence.  For instance, when I'm listening to Spanish music, I do it once without looking at the lyrics to see if I can find words that I already know mixed with ones I haven't learned or heard before.  I jot them down and write what I hear for the other words, using what I know of the alphabet and pronunciations.  I try to make sentences and then look up the words that I don't know.  I also look up the words that I do know in case there's another way to use them. 

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I'm not sure this method would bear much fruit for me. I tried this at the initial stages of my learning French, where I joined a chat group where all communication was done in this language alone. Despite hearing the way they spoke, the most I could decipher was the emotion behind their words, as in, whether someone was trying to flirt, or was irritated or was happy. And I learnt that Bonjour meant hello/ how do you do. Then again, I already knew this before joining the site. So when someone replied "cava", I gathered they must mean "I'm okay/fine/well". For the rest of my time there, I really didn't learnt much. 

I think for me, I would have to get down on my knees and legs and actually make the effort of learning a few phrases and words of the new language by rote. Thereafter, I might use them to converse with people and try and pick up the language from thereon. As I did, in fact, with French eventually. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

If there is something that transcription can help someone learn is the heart and soul of a people speaking a particular language by mustering the manner in which they temper words spoken. This is what I have experienced firsthand. It is very true that learning the language would be very difficult through a transcription method because you cannot keep track of new words not muster their arrangement in relation to one another. When listen to a transcription, your mind is focused on the way the words are said and how they can be used again and not what words they are. There is a difference and to a language newbie, this can prove very disastrous. I definitely would not recommend transcription for beginners but to learners who have grasped the language and need to speak it like the natives. It would be an excellent preliminary step towards mustering fluency.  

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I had a professor in college who did this. She taught English and sometimes she would assign files as homework and we'd have to transcribe them. I had no problems with them, but a lot of other students complained a lot. Files weren't that big (~5min), but accents would vary and it's a lot harder when somebody is speaking with an Australian or Scottish accent compared to American. I actually managed to learn a lot this way. I usually got those accented files, and I've really liked them. Learned some quirks about the way other English speaking people speak English. Fun.

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Transcription as a method of learning a language is quite new to me. I personally have not used it. But it can be a useful tool as regards familiarity of common occurring words. It can prove helpful in improving a person's conversational skill, I think. At least, in the aspect of one getting used to words being string along together. It's like you imitating the words heard. However, in this method, learning is limited only to having the ability to repeat what were spoken. A case of learning by imitation. Comprehension is lost as learner, especially a beginner, has no way of knowing the meaning of the words/phrases heard.

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  • 3 weeks later...

We used to have those transcription exercised at the university. We would be hearing dialogues or just an excerpt from an article on the computer, and would try to do the transcription. Well, this was a professional transcription I am writing about. We also did the thing where we would turn the transcription into a text. But you said you were not talking about the professional transcription, but rather writing down what you hear. I have done that for English words to some people whom I tried to teach English to, but they were not familiar with the academic/dictionary transcript language. It usually turned out to be very helpful. Plus I remember when I first encountered the language, I used to write this over the words in a book, so that It would be easier for me to learn how to read it.

 

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  • 4 months later...

This is called "shadowing" by some people. I remember reading about it  on Tofugu (site about Japanese culture and Japanese learning). Here's the link to the article about shadowing as a learning tool (in this case, using japanese series).

Duolingo uses this also. I think it's pretty good for developing listening and vocabulary without the pressure of an actual conversation. Plus, by making mistakes while transcribing you inevitably learn some orthography.

I never really liked it in classes, though. I mean, if you do it at home you can use material you actually enjoy, and if you have the privilege of having a teacher during a couple of hours I think that time is better used on other types of learning. If you disagree with this view, I'd be really interested to hear your reasoning. I'm no teacher myself :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Transcription can surely be used as a way to learn a new language, but I think it is not the most efficient way to doing it. Also, it can be quite hard to transcribe something you don`t initially understand.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Ah, I do this often. Sometimes when I'm on a less packed train in Tokyo, Japan, and have seat or a concealed place by the door, I'll take out my iPod or iPad and jot down the phrases I'm hearing around me to research later on. Of course, now that I've attained a level of fluency, I already understand most of what's being said. But when I hear someone conversing about a topic that I don't know much about, like economy and politics, I take special notes. Another time I do this is when watching anime. I'll keep a notebook near and just scribble down hiragana to words I don't know. Most of the time it's anime jargon or some silly name/slanguage though. 

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