https://www.duolingo.com/RebelBrigid

Does it get easier to understand speaking?

So I came across a difficulty while trying to complete my tree and that was while learning the Conjunctions lesson. I can translate well when the words are shown but when I had to listen and type the words I was finding it difficult to hear the words and remember it all. I had to use the slow button practically every time because some words sounded like they were together.

Today I was listening to a spanish radio show and when the radio presenters were talking I was trying to understand what they were saying but again it was too fast.

So my question is, does it get easier to understand people when they are speaking at regular speed? If so, will it take a while and a lot of practice even after I finish my tree or does it just become easier as I progress through the lessons?

4 years ago

30 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/BobbieL
BobbieL
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I personally found that playing a lot of Spanish in the background was very valuable. Before someone objects, I'm not saying that you can just passively listen while doing other things and you'll start to randomly understand what they're saying.

What it did do for me was to sort of, I think, give my brain a chance to process a large quantity of the sound of the language in a short time (much more than I'd have had the time, energy, or patience to pay attention to actively). After a few days of doing that, even though I had no idea what was being said, I noticed that what I was hearing was turning from endless meaningless babble into something that I could actually identify as a series of spoken words (even if I couldn't have told you what words were being spoken or what they meant).

I'm still a long way from being any good at it, but that took me a couple of steps forward anyway.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Kina.7

I know exactly what you mean. It's like even though I don't understand what the words mean, I can distinguish individual words whereas before all the words seemed to run together!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/E.T.s_Son
E.T.s_Son
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I actually watch True Blood in Spanish on HBO Latino and other Spanish shows/movies and despite not being able to understand everything I always catch words I know and I'm starting to pick up speech patterns that are said in the language

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/RebelBrigid

When you say play Spanish in the background, do you mean speaking or music or maybe a TV show?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BobbieL
BobbieL
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I went with music, just because it was what I enjoyed listening to while doing other stuff. I think the basic effect would probably be similar with a podcast or tv shows or something, though.

I was basically a few levels down the Duolingo tree already and I realized that, even when I was listening to a recording of native speakers saying words I should have known, I couldn't catch them well because the speech was so fast that it was all a babble that just kinda ran together and I didn't even hear that there WERE words.

So I used Pandora, Google Play, and iTunes radio to set up Spanish-based Internet radio stations and left them running to see if it'd do me any good, and after a few days I started realizing that I was hearing the divisions between words. It didn't magically make me know what the words were or anything, but I think it gave my brain a chance to work out some of the rhythm and basic sounds of the language.

I also ended up finding a few songs I really liked :)

Incidentally, if your local library has an account with Freegal (it's a service libraries can buy where it lets people with a library card download a few songs each week) they have a few Spanish artists I've found on there. I've downloaded stuff from Shakira and Chayanne so far, but I'm sure there are more.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Kina.7

I'm concerned about this as well so I plan to practice listening daily. I found two sites with videos to practice listening to native speakers from different spanish-speaking countries. http://www.spanishear.com and http://www.spanishlistening.org

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Talca
Talca
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Spanishlistening.org has been a lifesaver for me. I plan on listening to every speaker and interview that they post. I would not have known about it without Alicia, a Duolingo player, posting it.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/NirvanM
NirvanM
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It seems spanishear.com links now forward to spanishlistening.org - perhaps they have merged? Thanks for sharing this resource!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Kina.7

Thanks for pointing that out! I didn't realize they were merged.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Herb13
Herb13
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Kina.7. Thank you so much for posting these links! This is exactly what I need at this point. As NirvanM points out (below, maybe above), it appears that these two sites have merged. I clicked on embedded links in spanishear, and they all took me to spanishlistening. Just an FYI.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ms.cac

Thank you for posting these links!!!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/RebelBrigid

Thank you, both those sites look really helpful. Can't wait to test them out. :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rspreng

It gets easier as you go through the lessons, but completing the Duo tree is far from enough, IMO. I'd suggest a heavy dose of listening practice, and you can start with the Spanish episodes of Extr@ on YouTube. Watching children's shows like Dora the Explorer in Spanish is good. I like watching movies I know very well in English in Spanish, so I have a good idea of what is being said and can concentrate of picking up the Spanish. I think listening is the most difficult skill to acquire. Do some googling for 'Spanish listening skills' and you'll get a bunch of hits. For me, hanging out in a Mexican restaurant during non- busy times, swapping English for Spanish with the staff, maybe helping fold napkins, is a good thing. :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/RebelBrigid

I had to watch Extr@ in school when we were studying French. I shall definitely take a look at the Spanish one and I'll try to find some TV shows and movies too. Thanks :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/daninell

This is one of my favorite sites to use for listening skills: http://www.laits.utexas.edu/spe/index.html

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/RebelBrigid

Thank you for the link, I shall test this one out too :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Herb13
Herb13
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Hook 'em, Horns. I just listened a little bit to this link. I love it. Thank you, Daninell!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/GregHullender
GregHullender
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More vocabulary helps a lot. You get that from reading, so don't neglect Immersion.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/disneybecca

Keep practicing - you will get better if you keep on trying. One of the things that has helped me the most is watching Spanish tv with the subtitles on. This has improved both my reading and listening skills at the same time. Now I am trying to wean myself off of using the subtitles without my comprehension plummeting.

Podcasts aimed at Spanish learners are also great because the speed is slowed down to help you follow along. Some of my favorites are News in Slow Spanish, News in Slow Spanish Latino, Notes in Spanish, Coffee Break Spanish, and Showtime Spanish. Thanks to these podcasts, my listening comprehension has improved to the point that I now get bored listening to them because of their slower speed. And the native podcasts that once moved too fast for me to understand anything, I can now follow, although I miss words or finer details here or there.

FYI: If you check out the podcasts I recommended, you may have trouble accessing Coffee Break Spanish and Showtime Spanish for the next day or two. Radio Lingua (the company that makes them) is doing site upgrades right now.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/RebelBrigid

Watching Japanese TV shows with subtitles is how I picked up some phrases. I think this is a method I will find quite effective for me. Thank you for the heads up, I will try those podcasts soon then :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/azureskye
azureskye
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The phrase 'practice makes perfect' doesn't lie. You will get better, and mistakes will happen. But when you've completed Duolingo, you need some real world experience. People aren't going to repeat themselves 12 times or until you finally understand in that language...they might but not likely. :P Just practice.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/KNR_27
KNR_27
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listening to a language is essentially a different skill than reading (or writing). From what I understand, you learn, on a subconscious level, the sound cues and phoneme combinations that signal separate words, so you learn the skill of hearing where the division is. Before this, it's hard to pick out the separate words, they all seem to come at you in a single stream. When you're halfway there, words sometimes run together. Eventually you can pick them all out. It's just practice and exposure.

I've had the experience twice in my life of staying in foreign countries where almost no one around me spoke English (and I had no prior knowledge of the language). Both languages I could eventually understand the words that were spoken -- even though I not not know what the words meant. In German I can almost always understand -- but there was a time when I would listen, and not recognize a word, and then literally a second later the word would appear to me as a mental image (usually as an image of the printed word -- an image of the spelling). My brain was fitting the variance of sounds heard into the patterns I knew, to recognize what the person was pronouncing. At a later stage I would watch the news broadcasts. At first I could not keep up. Then, a second or two (or a half second) after hearing the sentence, the sentence would sort of 'mentally unroll' in my mind as a sentence I understood -- again, a processing delay. The only problem was I would miss every second or third sentence while the meaning of the previous sentence was being processed. Eventually I could understand in real time, and then understand without any mental exhaustion. Now I listen to audiobooks while doing boring work, or housework, and it keeps me from being bored -- I can listen for five or six hours, no problem. (Although when I tried listen to Thomas Mann's 'Magic Mountain", unabridged, in German that proved too difficult to listen to with just half my attention).

I hope to be able to comprehend Spanish this fluently some day ! I have the skill of discerning what words are being spoken (from travel in childhood, and growing up around it) -- I just don't know what any of the words mean, because I don't actually understand Spanish !

(though I've started learning it, and am partway through the tree).

If you think about it, there's a lot of variance in the way native speakers can pronounce words, so this takes time to learn for any language. Think, for instance, of how an English speaker can recognize the same words (sometimes) spoken in a Brooklyn or Queens accent, a Boston south-side accent, a Georgia accent, a Manchester accent, or a Scottish or Bombay accent. The actual sounds produced might be completely different. We have to learn the range of acceptable sounds (phoneme substitutions) that words can have. That takes practice and exposure.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Terrapod
Terrapod
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It gets easier to understand people after you hear the language alot. Listen to Spanish musics and watch shows to hear the sound of the words.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/wazzie
wazzie
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I like and have used a lot of the suggestions already given, so I'll add another I heard about recently through these forums. LyricsTraining lets you listen to and watch music videos (with lyrics like karaoke). You can then play 'games' where you listen to the song and have to fill in the missing word.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/RebelBrigid

Ooo, this looks really good. I listen to a lot of Spanish music, I know almost all the lyrics for a couple of songs. I can't wait to try this.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ms.cac

Great Question RB!!!! I've thought about asking this myself!! Thank you!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pobrecito13

I have to agree with some of the other comments, that it takes a lot of practice. Watching TV and movies, and listening to music in Spanish, I think are the best substitutes, when you don't have others to speak to, or you can't travel to a Spanish speaking country. I'm not sure how TV works in England, but I get about 8-10 channels in Spanish, so I watch more TV in Spanish than in English, and I listen to music in Spanish more than in English. I would think that you should be able to watch some show online from channels in Spain, although I'm not so sure about channels from Latin America, due to region blocking. http://www.rtve.es/ is a channel from Spain that I can watch in the U.S., and http://www.vmetv.com/ is my favorite channel, but it is from the U.S., so I don't know if you can watch online or not. Additionally I think it is good to watch or listen to things from various sources, meaning different dialects, as that will help in understanding more as well. It is like English in that there is the U.S., England, Austrailia, New Zealand, S. Africa, etc., and we can all understand each other, but there are different words for the same thing and pronunciation may vary. A final suggestion is for in person convesation. I'm not sure where you are in England, but here is a site where people meet in person (there are many other activities, languages, etc., as well) http://www.meetup.com/find/?allMeetups=false&keywords=spanish&radius=100&userFreeform=London%2C+Greater+London%2C+England%2C+United+Kingdom&mcId=c1012717&sort=default ¬°Buena suerte!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/RebelBrigid

Thanks for the links :) The first one works but the second is not available in my country. I know a couple of Spanish people, so when I get better and can hold a proper conversation, I'm going to test it out on them but thanks for that link aswell.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/suesieb
suesieb
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Spanish language TV also helps. Sports, movies, talk shows, something for everybody.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Damnatum
Damnatum
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I've been learning Spanish for a couple months now. I'm just starting to pick up bits and pieces of what natives say at a regular speaking speed. I'd suggest that you practice every day, it will come with time and practice! Buena suerte!

4 years ago
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