Can you learn a language just by listening?


Hey, guys. Welcome to engVid. Today's lesson is a little bit different,

it's me talking about: Is it possible for you to learn a language just by listening?

This is something that I think many of us would love, love, love, love to be true.

I can just learn a language by listening, I don't have to really do anything

if I just spend enough time listening, then,

you know, I'll be able to speak; I'll have learned the language.

So, some ways we might do this are... Could be watching... Watching TV in that language,

you're trying to learn and just think:

"Well, I'm... I'm learning. I'm learning stuff just by watching."

Another way is you move to a different country, and you spend time around

native speaker friends, and you don't understand anything, but you're like:

"Well, I'm learning. The more time I spend doing this, I'll get to a point where I can just speak the language."

And that is a situation that I, myself, have been in many times in my life. If you put

all the time together, I would say I probably wasted a couple of years of my life, taking

that approach, just thinking you learn by listening. Now, don't get me wrong, you do

learn how to understand what people are talking about if you take that approach. You know,

you're the only one who doesn't speak the same language that everybody else speaks,

you're the only one who doesn't speak it, after a while you do kind of understand what

people are talking about, so you can often guess from the situation. But that doesn't

mean the same thing as being able to put a sentence together, and join in in the conversation

in that language. Because although you kind of understand what people are saying, you

just haven't developed the skill of moving your tongue and saying the words of the other

language. So I would say taking that approach is a very, very frustrating, and slow, and

ineffective way to learn any language. And that's based from my personal experience.

If the language that you're hoping, trying, wishing to learn is very close to your language,

then of course, you will understand much, much more of what is being said, and you'll

be able to guess many of the words. But if the language is completely different to your

native language, it's a really ineffective way to expect to learn a language, because

there's just not a lot you can guess. The words are very different, the grammar structure

is very different.

And have you ever been in that situation when you're the only one who doesn't understand

anything? Well, I've been in that situation many times, and I don't know if this happens

to all people, but this happens to me. After a while, you stop listening. And, at least

I do, and I start thinking about my own things in my head. So you're there, but you're not

even listening. And you have to ask yourself:

Is this the same thing that's also happening

if you're watching a movie that's spoken in a language that you don't understand? Are

you actually listening to the words, or are you just reading subtitles in your own language

that you understand? So that's an important part of it as well. Is that time you are listening

to the language you want to learn, are you using that time with your ears, really awake

and switched on to what people are saying? Because I think most of the time, when you

don't actually know that language, you're not fully listening because you don't understand

anything. You're really concentrating on something you don't understand, it's a very hard thing

to do for more than a couple of minutes.

So, learning a language just by listening, in my opinion, is a very frustrating, slow

way to learn a language. Of course, we all learn like this when we are children, but

that's a very different situation, because when we're babies, we're always surrounded

by this language, we're the one that doesn't speak, and the people around us interact with

us and get us to say words one by one, and then, you know, language comes slowly, comes

slowly, comes slowly. But as adults, we don't get that kind of attention, one-to-one from

the native speakers, and we just don't have that long.

We don't have that long to be not understanding things.

So, if you're in that situation, or thinking that you're just going to learn a language

by listening, I want you to stop frustrating yourself, stop lying to yourself, and

get to the point where you're like:

"Well, how am I actually going to learn this language?" if you want to learn.

"How am I actually going to learn it?"

And the way that you learn is

by being active. And there are so many different ways you can be active when it comes to learning

a language. But it means the...

Rather than just taking in by watching or by listening,

you actually have to be putting effort from your side into learning that language. So

the ways that I most like to be learning a language in an active way by writing, I just

find it very helpful for me to use my hand when I'm learning something. Even if I never

look at it again, I do like this with a paper, throw it over my shoulder. For me, it's very

helpful to write things down again and again. Sometimes it's very helpful.

Other ways of being active, are of course, doing speech practice, having someone you

can speak to. But if you don't have anyone to speak to, don't worry, because you can

speak to yourself. You can speak, and speak, and speak to yourself.

When you're watching engVid videos, you can write comments.

You can also do the quiz at the end of the lesson.

These are ways to be interactive. And I encourage you to take notes of the lessons as well.

Just keep doing it, be active, and that is what's going to get you out of that frustration of:

"I'm learning a language, but I think I'm learning a language, but I'm not getting any better."

Because if you are just watch, watch, listen, listen - it's not going to

take you where you want to be with learning your language in a quick enough, fast enough time.

So what I want to do now is invite you to leave a comment, if you've got any tips for

learning a language in an active way. And also, after you leave a comment,

go and do the quiz for today's video.

I want to say thank you for watching, and come and join us again at engVid soon.

And until next time, bye.