The Key to Improved Listening Comprehension
Hi there, Steve Kaufmann here and today I want to talk about
listening comprehension, how to improve our listening comprehension,
uh, based on my experience.
Uh, remember that that listening comprehension, at least for me
is, is the fundamental goal, the fundamental activity.
You wanna understand what people are saying.
If you can understand movies, if you can understand podcasts, if you can
understand, you know, conversations, the other end of the conversation, you
can eventually get to where you can hold up your end of the conversation.
Uh, I spend up most of my time listening.
Listening comprehension is, is where the action is in my opinion.
I mentioned reading as a way to increase your vocabulary so that later on
when you hear these words, you might have a chance to understand them.
But listening comprehension is where I spend most of my time.
But before I get into more detail, I want to tell you two stories.
So first of all, Uh, the first takes place in St.
I had been studying Russian for four years, I guess, off and on.
I listened to audio books, Russian literature.
I listened to political discussions from a radio station.
I understood a lot of Russian, and I'm in St.
I want to buy a train ticket to go to Vyborg, which is just north of, of St.
Petersburg on the electric train.
And so I'm waiting in line and, uh, finally it's my turn to tell the
lady there behind the counter what I wanted and, uh, a certain amount
of trepidation here, you know, using the language in not to listen to
political discussion, but to use it in a very practical, specific situation.
And I said, I would like to buy a ticket to go to Vyborg.
And she comes back at me with something and I didn't understand
what she said and I had to repeat and, and ask her to repeat.
And finally, whatever she said, I can't remember.
Uh, I got the picture and I paid her and I got my ticket.
So that's one situation.
Uh, another situation I was talking to, we have a Mexican
gardener here in Palm Springs.
And, uh, we were talking about different things and all of a
sudden he said, uh, I said, what?
"Pow", "pow", what's "pow"?
And finally, I figured out it was pago.
It had to do with his payment.
Somehow his bank transfers weren't going through.
What's the significance of these two little stories?
I have found time and time again that in order to understand a part.
Um, context, you kind of have to have experienced it before.
So you have to be able to anticipate what is coming at you.
And if you have not had that particular situation before,
it will be more difficult.
So the second time, or the third time that I go to buy a train ticket
in Russia, it'll be easier for me 'cause I've already experienced it.
I can anticipate what the person's going to say.
Uh, similarly with, with this Mexican gardener, if I knew kind of roughly the
context of what he was talking about, I might have been able to connect
the fact that Pago to him was almost "pow", or at least I heard it as "pow".
And this is important because there's so many different accents,
even within a particular accent.
People have different ways of pronouncing things.
It's very important to therefore be able to anticipate.
And what that means is when you don't understand, don't criticize yourself.
Don't blame yourself.
The fact that you're in a situation where you don't understand is a good
thing because you have now time to think about that, and so next time
around you probably will do better.
I mean, you can do things just by dent of doing a lot of listening.
You are exposing yourself to more different situations.
Even if you're, you know, watching a series on Netflix, uh, you're sort of
involved now in a, in an environment.
It might be a family, it might be, gosh knows whatever is happening
and as you spend more and more time in that situation, you're gradually
going to understand more because you're becoming familiar with, with
what people say to each other within that particular context that you
have been sort of catapulted into.
So I, I only wanna make this point because I, I think people sometimes get very
upset if, if they feel they have a good level of comprehension and then they're
put in a very specific situation and they have trouble understanding what is said.
No harm done.
You ask the person to repeat as I did with a Mexican gardener or
with a, I shouldn't say Mexican.
He's a, he's an American, but he doesn't speak English here in Palm Springs.
Uh, or with the, uh, the lady selling the train ticket in St.
Petersburg, I just ask again.
And, uh, so, you know, my advice, uh, uh, in terms of listening
comprehension is, you know, expose yourself to as many different accents.
As many different situations, as many different contexts as possible.
And recognize that there will always be situations where even some of the
most basic bits of vocabulary will pass you by things that you think
you should be able to understand.
You won't understand them.
And that's just part of improving your listening comprehension.
And uh, and that's why I should say by the way, that exposing yourself
to, you know, speaking situations, not being afraid to make mistakes,
not being afraid to not understand.
Having one situation where you didn't understand and you go back in there again.
And the third time you will understand that particular context.
And there are so many other contexts that you need to, you know, expose yourself to.
Uh, so a big part of language, you know, in progressing in our languages is having
a sense of confidence, and that means not becoming overly concerned about
situations where you didn't understand.
Just keep going.
So I have talked before about listening comprehension, and I'll leave you with
a couple of videos on the subject.
I hope this is helpful.
Bye for now.