I’ve only been working on this for less than a week, but I’ve had such overwhelming success so far I thought I had to share.
I’ve been trying to learn Spanish over the national lockdowns here in the UK. Out of reading, writing, listening and speaking, listening is definitely my weakest point. Everything just sounds like a rapid-fire machine gun of syllables. Last week I read up a few language learning forums for advice on this and someone wrote that people learning English as a foreign language (EFL) get the same feeling listening to full speed English and referred to it as the “Mairzy Doats effect”:
“Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey” ← what an EFL learner hears
“Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy” ← what a native English speaker hears
I figured what I needed to work on was identifying words from the stream of syllables. I’ve been working my way through the most common words lists, selecting the “listening” skill in “text input” mode. The audio is played at 100% speed and I get to hear the audio only once. Sentence comprehension isn’t important, only trying to guess what the cloze word was based on what I remember the audio sounded like from that one, single play through. If I get it wrong, I play the audio over and over again without looking at the text on the screen until I can identify each and every word (again, comprehension not a priority).
I’m not going to lie, it was outrageously hard the first day and I had to reduce the speed to 75% at the start. But even by two day I was up to 100% speed and making really good progress. It didn’t take long to get through the “100 Most Common” list. I’m currently about half way through the “500 Most Common” list. Today, for reviewing “100 Most Common” sentences, I was able to increase the audio speed to 125% and had no difficulty at all!
Despite only focusing only on identifying words from syllables, my listening comprehension has improved dramatically. For the first time ever, I’ve been able to watch kid’s cartoons on Netflix in Spanish without subtitles. I have nothing to back this up but what it feels like to me is, since I only get one chance to listen to the sentence spoken at full speed, I don’t have the time to slowly translate what I hear into English bit-by-bit like I used to. Instead I’ve been forcing myself to understand what was said in Spanish to have a chance of remembering what the cloze word is. For example, the word “pensar” isn’t “Spanish for ‘to think’” in my head any more, it’s simply “pensar”. This probably isn’t a massive revelation for many people, but it is for me! This isn’t the case with every single word, but it is for a great majority now.
I’ve got 3 and half more weeks of Pro remaining. I aim to get at least complete up to and including the “1000 Most Common” list. When I complete the “1000 Most Common”, I plan to simply stick with reviewing from then on and just keep upping the speed to increase the challenge rather than adding more sentences.
Again, this is very earlier days, but I’m so excited about this that I was compelled to write this all out! xD