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I'm ok at reading, but I don't understand anything spoken.

When I'm given something to read and translate to English I normally do fine, and vice versa. But when I have to listen to an audio example of a sentence I never have any clue on what is being said. And it's easily discouraging my easily discouraged self.

August 18, 2013



Language exchange partner! It is the only way. I have two French people of whom I talk with in France. we have been at it for 5 months and all three of us have become great friends. :) http://www.mylanguageexchange.com/


Excellent site. Thanks for posting. :)


I have been exactly where you are, and to a large extent I am still now since picking up new languages Portuguese and Italian, but I would not let it discourage you. You simply have to be patient and dedicated, the more you listen to the radio, watch tv, and force yourself to have simple conversations or thoughts to yourself, the easier it will become. I had absolutely no conception that I would ever have to learn German until three or four years ago, and even though so far I can only speak a bastardised pidgin dialect of it, I still manage to understand and converse quite easily, and the only materials I have ever used are Pimsleur tapes and lately Duo to brush up - the rest was just real world practice.

Imagine what you are trying to do now is like a 5000 piece jigsaw in your mind -- a jigsaw is a very simple game, but to begin with you have to diligently organise and inspect every piece, find all the edges, but there is nothing fundamentally difficult about it, it is just a game of patience. In the same way as once you have put a piece down in the right place you can forget about it, once you have locked the meaning of a word in your head, it is very rare to have to worry about it again. Just don't forget that Duolingo is only a tool that gives you clues and exercises, very much like a classic textbook, even if it is a lot more than just that; the actual study is what you do in the real world with what you have learned.


Ehh by the way, I can't recommend pimsleur mp3's enough as well. If you walk or cycle or spend a lot of time in the car, and aren't bothered about looking like a crazy person babbling out loud to yourself, they'll turn every wasted minute into useful practice for you. Other audio courses that I have seen are very dull and uninspired with the speaker just repeating random words in both languages, and somehow you are supposed to absorb it without going into a coma -- but there is something unique about pimsleur in that it uses gradually more complex conversations, spaced repetition techniques and actually forces you to think, and gives you time to either anticipate the correct answers or repeat them after you have heard them. It's just damned expensive though so trawl through your local libraries to find it. (unless you happen to be loaded)


I'm planning on doing that, but right now I haven't even finnished Basics Part 2 on duolingo. If I manage to learn enough I'm going to turn my phone and facebook and even my video game audio and text to French. But right now if I do that the only words I hear are stuff like "The, You, We, And" etc lol


Ce sont de bonnes idees :) If you do that, you have automatically increased your chances of absorbing French by tenfold. It sounds very simple and stupid, but really, the biggest barrier between you and learning the language is actually having a use for it every day. You don't really have to stress yourself about it, you just have to be exposed to a trivial amount every day to keep the little snowball rolling.

Oh yeah and Asterix, copious amounts of Asterix. Don't underestimate it :)


You can try listening to radio or tv. At first you won't understand anything but then you'll start grasping some words. With time your comprehension will improve. This is what works for me :)

You can try these: http://watch.squidtv.net/europe/france.html http://www.europe1.fr/Radio/


I have the same Problem, but it can just get better, if you don´t give up. The more you hear the French, the more you understand. We both are on level 3 now. So let´s do our best and sharpen our hearing. Greetz from Germany


I'm learning German on here also and doing German in High School, and maybe it's just genes being myself mostly German lol but I find it much easier. At least understand what words are spoken, I might just give up French and learn German first.


Or psychology :) Language isn't really about genes, it's about identity. I met a great lady once who was born Chinese but adopted in England, and had the most perfectly spoken upper class English accent you can picture - and was also very capable in French - but wouldn't have an idea where to start with Chinese. Don't feel that you won't be able to ever understand French mate, I had no idea that I would ever be able to understand a single word of German til I was 27 ;)

(also, study both. be greedy.)


Just keep using the 'slow' version of the speech (on the ones that are written too) until it become a bit clearer. I watch French TV DVDs ('Spiral' is a cop drama) and films (with English subtitles) and downloaded French audiobooks - even though I didn't understand a thing listening to the books - it helps with getting a feel for the sound of the language. I used to listen on my 15min walk to work. Also there is great podcast called 'News in slow French' - you might understand 1 word in 50 to start with, then slowly as you progress though duolingo, more words start popping out.


And you are not alone. Duo 'fluency' is very much limited to the written word, IMO. You need to go elsewhere for audio study. There are many sites for Spanish, so I assume for French, too.


Tell yourself not to be so easily discouraged! :) Seriously, just keep working at it. It takes a long time. (Myself, my listening is not as good as my reading in French, Spanish, or Russian, but it's improving, although it is taking a lot of work, and I've been at it for years.)

Maybe, for French-English duolingo questions, try not looking at the French the first time, then play the slow version of the French audio, and then read the French and listen to the audio.

The suggestions of listening elsewhere are good, too.

  • the BBC has some free online audio French courses: http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/french/ .
  • This course may be useful to you, and if you live in the U.S. or Canada you can use it online, gratis; it's all-French video that starts out easy and becomes progressively harder (click on the little "cassettes" next to the lessons for the video): http://www.learner.org/resources/series83.html?# ).
  • There is plenty of audio with text on this site, http://www.lingq.com , from beginner to advanced; you can use the site for free to listen and read, and it's great; there are more advanced features available for a subscription fee (but they never did much for me when I tried them, actually).

Don't get discouraged! And definitely stay with duolingo, even if you find something else that's also good. Duolingo is such a great way to get yourself to practice every day.

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