https://www.duolingo.com/FlorenceMo11

The more you learn...the more you know that you do not know

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I finished my Spanish tree about a month ago which is great, and when I was about to finish the tree, I used to listen to Spanish podcasts and following light speed Spanish by Gordon and Cynthia. At first I really had to try hard to understand what was spoken. But then one day I decided to watch kid shows like "El mundo de Elmo" on youtube and the thing is after that I understood many more Spanish videos (not geared towards kids) though watching kids shows really reinforces your learning since it's a very natural method I guess. Anywhoo... long story short

I find myself one day understanding sooo much Spanish just by playing something in the background and minding my own business

and then on other days... I just can't understand anything lol. My brain hurts. It's like the more you know...the more you know that you do not know haha But what I'm wondering is...is this a good thing? can anyone else relate?

8/6/2016, 4:30:03 PM

23 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/MikeyDC65

In my experience the prime factors that come into play here are the topic being discussed, the accents involved, the regional slang, and the formality of the speakers.

Out of all of those though, I personally feel like the topic, more specifically the learner's familiarity (or lack thereof) with it, is probably the biggest factor.

For example, most learners are typically extremely well versed in terminology related to learning the language. So, when they watch Youtube videos, listen to podcasts, or have conversations about learning the language they typically understand the vast majority of what's being said without even hardly trying. The same holds true with many familiar topics such as talking about the weather, asking how someone's day went, etc.

On the other hand, when the speaker starts making cultural jokes, it can feel like you just can't understand anything because you typically simply have no frame of reference to make any sense of what's being said. The same thing can easily happen when the topic moves into areas that you're not very familiar with since most topics have a set of specialized vocabulary that you might not have been exposed to before. Keep in mind that most college-educated native English speakers have a passive vocabulary of something like 20-25k words whereas you might only know 1/5 as many words in your second language (probably closer to 1/10 for an intermediate learner). It's extremely hard to figure things out from context when you don't understand at least 90-95% of the surrounding words, and with unfamiliar topics, you generally don't!

8/7/2016, 4:37:08 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/FlorenceMo11
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You're such an eloquent writer. I'm impressed. I think context also matters in your native language as well. Since language is employed differently in different expertises and fields. You can never stop learning. I do believe though that context helps us understand the fluidity and structure of language rather relying on rigid fixed meanings. Must be fun being a linguist.

8/7/2016, 2:10:20 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Ilmarien
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Yeah, it's definitely frustrating. My listening comprehension is... fine, but still not as strong as I wish it were, and I do run into situations where I have to rewind a show or ask someone to repeat themselves, and am like... how on earth did I not hear that the first time?

On the other hand, I've noticed that there are times I need to ask people to repeat themselves in English. I may get tired and incoherent in Spanish, but I can definitely get tired and incoherent in English too. And I have caught myself randomly using the wrong word in English (though whether that's normal or from spending too much time functioning in Spanish, I'm not sure). It's stuff I wouldn't normally think twice about, but I think we do start expecting 100% perfection in second languages without keeping in mind that we don't have that in our native ones. So perspective is everything. ;)

8/6/2016, 9:12:06 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/FlorenceMo11
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that problem occurs when you are learning another language, or if you're bilingual lol it's so frustrating. It happens to me with English too lol and it's embarrassing cause i was lit/English major lol. Yes it's true we are not 100% with our native languages either. Good point. I guess we always have to look at the bigger picture lol. Thanks for sharing.

8/7/2016, 12:05:30 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/atermoiement

I'm at this point with my French learning, and I definitely relate. I would swear that I can't communicate in French or even understand it, but then I listen to a podcast or get into a conversation with my friend and voilà.. It's more about awakening the active part of your learned language, and some days it can be harder, but the more you train yourself to be 'ready', the easier it will become.

8/6/2016, 4:39:15 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/FlorenceMo11
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I think that's what it is. The wheels start turning in your brain and everything feels great and then other times it's just stops. I wonder if that's just the process of language acquisition. And thank you for your encouraging words because it can be overwhelming when you realize how much you don't know esp if you devote your time to learning another language. I don't know about speaking yet lol i'm glad you have someone to practice with, I just talk to myself lol

8/6/2016, 4:57:25 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/atermoiement

Yep, it is! Sometimes the plateaus last for a while, other times only for a short bit, but the so-called breakthrough afterwards is really great. You're welcome, and I know that feeling all too well, all in due time of course. :)

8/6/2016, 5:05:19 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/jolynnedougherty
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I wonder, too, if that is how it was when we were learning our mother tongue as children.

8/6/2016, 5:32:31 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Tilden20008

Maybe somewhat, as kids sometimes have major breakthroughs, but that process is also different as it's generally a verbal immersion experience, followed later by reading and writing, while adults usually look at text and compare to another language while learning. Of course kids also pick up second and even third languages much more easily than adults.

8/7/2016, 12:11:33 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/FlorenceMo11
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hmm...I'm wondering the same too

8/6/2016, 7:30:17 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Gord399475
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You are not alone in this. Some days I am sharp and quick in understanding while other days I regress. This corresponds to how I am feeling. It seems that when I am tired I have difficulty concentrating and recalling but when I am refreshed....it's like night and day.... come to think about it.. morning is way more productive... too many cervezas in the evening. LOL

8/6/2016, 5:44:56 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/FlorenceMo11
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LOL that's funny. At least you know that when you are refreshed you realize that everything clicks. I guess it's just part of the journey lol

8/6/2016, 7:33:05 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Ajaykv
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Hi FlorenceMo11,i feel what you said is true,i just started learning Spanish recently,but i never dedicated my time to learning,this time I've decided to learn it without taking single day off.I am only at level 8 now and i have a long way to go and sometimes it is difficult to learn,i get a headache but then i take a nap and clears it away,then i continue learning.My current goal is to learn(understand) Spanish within this year,i hope i reach there. Thanks for reading

8/8/2016, 2:28:01 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/FlorenceMo11
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and thank you for posting. I can relate to those headaches btw lol. Keep going.

8/8/2016, 4:25:18 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/acres63

I can totally relate. I do Duolingo fir a couple of days and then when I get back on a week later nothing makes sense until I have practiced

8/6/2016, 9:35:09 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/FlorenceMo11
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that happens to me with languages i've neglected because I'm mostly focused on Spanish here but when i go to do German or French I'm like, oh wait, i do remember that word. It's pretty cool what our brains can do. Maybe sometimes it just needs to rest.

8/7/2016, 12:06:58 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Jannine_Smith

I wish this happened to me... a lot. I can be like that whenever I am reading texts or listening to a bit of Spanish. I instantly go, 'Aha!! I understood what has been said!!'

Other days, my brain is like mush

8/6/2016, 9:57:31 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/FlorenceMo11
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haha lol it's like I get it, but i don't lol. it's so funny

8/7/2016, 12:06:03 AM

[deactivated user]

    Thanks for this tip. I'll try it out now. Here is a few lingots, I've got many now.

    8/7/2016, 9:51:52 AM

    https://www.duolingo.com/FlorenceMo11
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    Haha I dunno if I need more lingots lol but I do appreciate it

    8/7/2016, 2:06:29 PM

    https://www.duolingo.com/Tilden20008

    Very true! I do think it's harder to understand a second language when tired -- I find myself just shutting down. And it's very frustrating to have the ideas in your head but not be able to communicate them quickly. At the same time breakthroughs come if one just keep plugging away. But sometimes they are obvious to others before we can see them, because we just keep running into more we don't know as we improve. Good luck and don't give up!

    8/7/2016, 12:15:19 PM

    https://www.duolingo.com/FlorenceMo11
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    Thank you!!! Good luck to you too.

    8/7/2016, 2:05:56 PM

    https://www.duolingo.com/daizhaphillips

    You mentioned little kid shows and I realized that I need to change my profile pic. Thank you! I went from Fluttershy to Dora in 2.5 seconds.

    8/10/2016, 3:18:53 AM
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