"Listening-reading" - how to learn a language

Phi-Staszek   Tue Nov 21, 2006 6:48 pm GMT
Why crawl if you can walk?
I think that trying to master a language without listening to it is as futile as playing the piano without listening to music or trying to learn to swim by analyzing the chemical composition of water instead of plunging into it.

I’ve always been puzzled by the fact that even intelligent people learn languages in a clumsy way.

I began learning languages on my own when I was eight. The first one was Russian. I was intrigued by the different letters and ever since I became hooked.

Even now after forty years I remember the first text I ever read. It was about seagulls and the sea and the way you become happy by soaring above the Earth.

I am extremely grateful to Russian writers and poets, they helped me regard their nation as something more than mere oppressors that they were and still are to many.

This is the way I do it:

If you want to learn a language quickly you’ll need:
1. a recording performed by good actors or narrators in the language you want to learn
2. the original text (of the recording)
3. a translation into your own language or a language you understand
4. the text should be long: novels are best

You may wonder: why long texts? Because of the idiolect of the author; it manifests itself fully in the first ten–twenty pages: it is very important in learning quickly without cramming.

The key factor in learning a language is EXPOSURE, that is how much text you will be able to perceive in a unit of time. There is a physical limit here, you can’t understand any faster than the text reaches your brain. That is why you ought to SIMULTANEOUSLY read the translation and listen to the original recording: that provides the fastest exposure.
You should ENJOY the text you're going to listen to.
Texts for beginners should be long - the longer the better, up to fifty hours (e.g. The Lord of the Ring, Harry Potter, Anna Karenina, War and Peace, Catch-22).
You might doubt if it is possible. I can assure you it is - you should see twelve-year-olds listening to Harry Potter.

The translation:
a) interlinear (for beginners)
b) literary, but following the original text as closely as possible
The original text and the literary translation should be placed in parallel vertical columns side by side.
If the texts are placed side by side, you can check almost instantly whether you understand or not.

The order ought to be EXACTLY as follows:
What you do:
1. you read the translation
because you only remember well what you understand and what you feel is "yours" psychologically

2. you listen to the recording and look at the written text at the same time,
because the flow of speech has no boundaries between words and the written text does, you will be able to separate each word in the speech flow
and you will get used to the speed of talking of native speakers - at first it seems incredibly fast

3. you look at the translation and listen to the text at the same time, from the beginning to the end of a story, usually three times is enough to understand almost everything
This is the most important thing in our method, it is right AT THIS POINT that proper learning takes place.

4. now you can concentrate on speaking: you repeat after the recording, you do it as many times as necessary to become fluent
Of course, first you have to know how to pronounce the sounds of the language you’re learning. How to teach yourself the correct pronunciation is a different matter, here I will only mention the importance of it.

5. you translate the text from your own language into the language you’re learning
you can do the translation both orally and in writing, that’s why the written texts should be placed in vertical columns side by side: you can cover one side and check using the other one.

And last but not least: conversing is not learning, it is USING a language, you will NEVER be able to say more than you already know.

© Phi-Staszek
Meesh   Wed Nov 22, 2006 7:12 am GMT
You provided a lot of information on the best way to "learn" a language, but in reality, your method only teaches how to understand the language. A major component of "knowing" a language is the ability to speak it, something that your method lacks.

I sincerely applaud you for "coming up" with this method of understanding the language, but we must not forget that it is equally important to be able to speak the language and be comprehensible.

<3 meesh
Guest   Wed Nov 22, 2006 8:04 am GMT
I couldn't agree less.
As to speaking and writing see 4. and 5.

I do not say it is 'the best way", it is the most enjoyble one.
IF you like literature.
Phi-Staszek   Wed Jul 25, 2007 6:45 pm GMT
Guest   Wed Jul 25, 2007 10:05 pm GMT
That's a good website. I don't agree with the credo of the founder though. I think it's fine to learn more than one foreign language at once.
Although I had a tiny bit of exposure to some foreign languages as a child, I didn't start learning formally until I was 14. I took French and Spanish in school at the same time. I'm glad I did.

The French teacher was a good grammar/translation type of teacher and we rarely heard any French at all. My Spanish class was a party. We listened to a movie, made up games, and sang. Occasionally we did some work. Mostly, I think we laughed and listened to stories the teacher told.

If I had not taken French, I would not have understood what it means to conjugate a verb, nor would I have understood a lot of things language learners need to know. It gave me a core for understanding other languages (including Spanish). However, if I had not taken Spanish, perhaps I would not know how much fun a language could be.

I think different methods work for different people. I started a thread about the hyperpolyglot Stuart Jay Raj. I heard him translate a few things from Thai into several languages (most of us could do the same with several short phrases, I think.) like English, Mandarin, Lao, Spanish and Hindi. He has several interesting methods, but some probably only work for a few students.
Besame mucho   Thu Jul 26, 2007 8:27 pm GMT
I quite agree with the previos post.
Listening can be fun. Check it out: http://es.youtube.com/watch?v=QcGAL9v0Pmk&mode=related&search=

Tienes diferentes versiones según el idioma que quieras aprender:
Spanglish: Sanjaya Malakar - Besame Mucho
French: dalida " besame mucho ". Versión muy animada.
SpaChin: Besame Mucho in Chinese
Ruso: http://patefon.knet.ru/music/patephon/besame/Irina_Allegrova_-_Tropicanca_(Besame_mucho).mp3

As you can see Besame mucho is a good start.