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Thread: ValeriyaRusalka needs Listening Comprehension Help!

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    ValeriyaRusalka needs Listening Comprehension Help!

    Здравствуйте!

    I have been studying Russian for 3 1/2 years, in my courses at my university. I also spent 5 weeks in Russia. I would probably say my reading comprehension is Intermediate, and my speaking is Intermediate Low. My listening comprehension is bad; I can pick out words here or there, but most of the time, I can't break down the words and it sounds like one long, continuous word. Any help, please?
    Please, correct my Russian where necessary. I need to get better with the language!

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    Властелин iCake's Avatar
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    Hello. I understand your frustration. Listening comprehension is probably the most difficult skill to get. To top it all, I don't think there is a 100% working solution to get it. There are only tips and suggestions and to be honest, they are mostly platitudes, but sometimes you have to listen even to platitudes.

    First of all, you have to listen and listen a lot and reguraly to actually obtain a good listening comprehension. As for me, I think the best choice would be to listen to something that has both audio and video, that creates some kind of interaction. You don't only hear but you also see what's going on and that can help you understand something even though you didn't make out the words or it even might help you deduce the unknown word's meaning. That's a great asset, believe me.

    Secondly, you have to have some vocabulary to actually start understanding speech, because if you don't know words listening is just a waste of time. That leads us to the conclusion that it would be better to pick your listening material carefully, the more it matches your vocabulary the better your chances to understand it. Perhaps, start off with children or teen stuff? The vocabulary is not very wide there.

    Thirdly, our brain follows patterns, especially if it deals with speech. For example, most non-native English speakers can't distinguish between certain sounds of English, such as E as in eel and I as in sit or A as in bat and E as in bed and so on if there is no similar distinction for sounds of these kinds in their native language. What happens there is that their brain matches those sounds with the native ones and returns the most similar native sounds so, as a result, they don't hear the sounds correctly. So, you won't be able to understand a foreign speech untill you have established new patterns in your brains. Especially if we speak about such a different, almost alien, language for an American as Russian. I remember my first attempt to listen to the English speech. That was a complete shock, I didn't understand a word of it. I was like: "Hey, what the hell was that? How they even talk like that? And the intonation! It's just horrible, such rapid drops!" That's because I was expecting Russian speech patterns there, which ended up with a woeful disaster. That problem kept haunting me untill I realized that I had to try a different approach. So I started to listen to the sounds rather than to words, and guess what, it worked.

    That helped me to create the new speech patterns I talked about. At first, I didn't hear words I heard only sounds, but gradually words started to become clearer and clearer and I became able to understand sentences without any noticeable effort.

    In conclusion, I want to add that studying pronunciation is most likely to help along your listening comprehension. If you know how to pronounce sounds properly that automatically creates the new speech patterns and that also means that you will hear those sounds in speech without an effort.
    I do not claim that my opinion is absolutely true.
    If you've spotted any mistake in my English, please, correct it. I want to be aware of any mistakes to efficiently eliminate them before they become a habit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by valeriyarusalka View Post
    Any help, please?
    Sometimes we talk in Google Hangouts, it may be helpful.

    Quote Originally Posted by iCake View Post
    Thirdly, our brain follows patterns, especially if it deals with speech.
    Игорь, у тебя всегда такой научный подход, что впору писать диссертацию

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    Властелин Medved's Avatar
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    Yeah iCake is right, the Russians have the same problem but the other way round, we can't understand English. My approach is the same as iCake's, that is, focusing on sounds rather than words is the very first step. Unfortunately, in Russian there is a bunch of prefixes, suffixes and endings and you've gotta master all of them, in terms of how they sound in fast, fluent pronunciation and their approximate meanings. Also it's important to realize that the Russian speech flow is different than the English one, I mean stresses, reduction, and so on, and so forth. The "Unstressed O = A" issue is just a subcase of the master rule of vowel reduction. In my view, another good idea is to scrutinize small pieces of audio and video with according transcripts or subtitles to the degree when you can say "I understand what they say 100% and I know why they pronounce the stuff like this". Sort of like that.
    Another month ends. All targets met. All systems working. All customers satisfied. All staff eagerly enthusiastic. All pigs fed and ready to fly.

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    When things are slow at work I have the Tune In Radio app and listen to Russian talk radio. I don't understand most if it but over time I'm able to hear distinct words not just blah, blah, blah when I started. I try to watch a Russian TV show everyday. Now I'm watching the Russian equivalent to 'Married With Children'.

    Scott

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    Quote Originally Posted by iCake View Post
    Hello. I understand your frustration. Listening comprehension is probably the most difficult skill to get. To top it all, I don't think there is a 100% working solution to get it. There are only tips and suggestions and to be honest, they are mostly platitudes, but sometimes you have to listen even to platitudes.

    First of all, you have to listen and listen a lot and reguraly to actually obtain a good listening comprehension. As for me, I think the best choice would be to listen to something that has both audio and video, that creates some kind of interaction. You don't only hear but you also see what's going on and that can help you understand something even though you didn't make out the words or it even might help you deduce the unknown word's meaning. That's a great asset, believe me.

    Secondly, you have to have some vocabulary to actually start understanding speech, because if you don't know words listening is just a waste of time. That leads us to the conclusion that it would be better to pick your listening material carefully, the more it matches your vocabulary the better your chances to understand it. Perhaps, start off with children or teen stuff? The vocabulary is not very wide there.

    Thirdly, our brain follows patterns, especially if it deals with speech. For example, most non-native English speakers can't distinguish between certain sounds of English, such as E as in eel and I as in sit or A as in bat and E as in bed and so on if there is no similar distinction for sounds of these kinds in their native language. What happens there is that their brain matches those sounds with the native ones and returns the most similar native sounds so, as a result, they don't hear the sounds correctly. So, you won't be able to understand a foreign speech untill you have established new patterns in your brains. Especially if we speak about such a different, almost alien, language for an American as Russian. I remember my first attempt to listen to the English speech. That was a complete shock, I didn't understand a word of it. I was like: "Hey, what the hell was that? How they even talk like that? And the intonation! It's just horrible, such rapid drops!" That's because I was expecting Russian speech patterns there, which ended up with a woeful disaster. That problem kept haunting me untill I realized that I had to try a different approach. So I started to listen to the sounds rather than to words, and guess what, it worked.

    That helped me to create the new speech patterns I talked about. At first, I didn't hear words I heard only sounds, but gradually words started to become clearer and clearer and I became able to understand sentences without any noticeable effort.

    In conclusion, I want to add that studying pronunciation is most likely to help along your listening comprehension. If you know how to pronounce sounds properly that automatically creates the new speech patterns and that also means that you will hear those sounds in speech without an effort.
    Thank you so much for your thought out response. I do try and watch shows so at the very least, I can get an idea of what is going on by visual clues. Sometimes I'll hear a word, and pop it into Google Translate to see if I was able to hear it properly. I remember hearing someone say, "плыви к нам!" But I heard "плывик нам!" It took me a second to hear the preposition separately from the other two words, but needless to say, I was excited when I was able to break it down.

    I used to watch Ранетки on YouTube (I know, silly show), but it really helped my Russian. Unfortunately, the videos were taken down and I can't find them anywhere. I got 9 episodes into the first season. I used to watch them over and over and understand more words as I went. Now I try to listen to Эхо Москвы when I can on my phone. It's slow going, but sometimes I feel like I'm not getting anywhere with it.
    Please, correct my Russian where necessary. I need to get better with the language!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ajax View Post
    Sometimes we talk in Google Hangouts, it may be helpful.
    Is that the little chat box at the bottom of the screen?
    Please, correct my Russian where necessary. I need to get better with the language!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Medved View Post
    Yeah iCake is right, the Russians have the same problem but the other way round, we can't understand English. My approach is the same as iCake's, that is, focusing on sounds rather than words is the very first step. Unfortunately, in Russian there is a bunch of prefixes, suffixes and endings and you've gotta master all of them, in terms of how they sound in fast, fluent pronunciation and their approximate meanings. Also it's important to realize that the Russian speech flow is different than the English one, I mean stresses, reduction, and so on, and so forth. The "Unstressed O = A" issue is just a subcase of the master rule of vowel reduction. In my view, another good idea is to scrutinize small pieces of audio and video with according transcripts or subtitles to the degree when you can say "I understand what they say 100% and I know why they pronounce the stuff like this". Sort of like that.
    I have found Russian movies on YouTube (mainly through MosFilm) and I've watched them with English subtitles, but I may try for Russian. I've been meaning to watch "Москва слёзам не верит" again. That's a good idea, to break it down that way. In my Russian Cinema class, we watched "Вор" with Russian subtitles, and while it was hard for me to always catch what was going on, it did help for following the language.
    Please, correct my Russian where necessary. I need to get better with the language!

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    Quote Originally Posted by fortheether View Post
    When things are slow at work I have the Tune In Radio app and listen to Russian talk radio. I don't understand most if it but over time I'm able to hear distinct words not just blah, blah, blah when I started. I try to watch a Russian TV show everyday. Now I'm watching the Russian equivalent to 'Married With Children'.

    Scott
    Have you ever seen the documentary "Exporting Raymond"? It's how they brought "Everybody Loves Raymond" to Russia and it's really fascinating. I've seen some of Married with Children in Russian as well. The joys of YouTube. Have you tried Эхо Москвы? I know they have an app on Android.
    Please, correct my Russian where necessary. I need to get better with the language!

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    No and I do listen to the Эхо Москвы radio station on Tune In Radio.

    Scott

    Quote Originally Posted by valeriyarusalka View Post
    Have you ever seen the documentary "Exporting Raymond"? It's how they brought "Everybody Loves Raymond" to Russia and it's really fascinating. I've seen some of Married with Children in Russian as well. The joys of YouTube. Have you tried Эхо Москвы? I know they have an app on Android.

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    Why don't watch American movies you know well, in Russian?
    "Get Smart", may be.
    "Невозможно передать смысл иностранной фразы, не разрушив при этом её первоначальную структуру."

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    Quote Originally Posted by maxmixiv View Post
    Why don't watch American movies you know well, in Russian?
    "Get Smart", may be.
    I have not thought of that. I'd have to do some searching. I'd also like to get a few books I know well in English that were translated to Russian.
    Please, correct my Russian where necessary. I need to get better with the language!

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