Helen (heleninwales) wrote,

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Unless I can get a brain upgrade, I'm going to have to stop trying to multi-task

Benny Lewis has been posting his thoughts on passive listening as a technice for learning languages. (Basically he doesn't think it's much help.)

One of the things I realy like about the Welsh class I attend (Llanllawen) is that the methods used mean that you spend a lot more time speaking or actively listening than you do in a traditional class. I have to admit that I used to think that passive listening would be helpful. It does do some things: it gives a feeling for the rhythms of the language and helps you get used to the normal speaking speed, rather than the slower speed of a class. To this end, I always used to have the car radio tuned to Welsh radio (Radio Cymru) and I thought I was understanding what was said, but to be honest, most of the time I was only getting the gist of the items and wasn't really getting the detail. If I listened actively, on the other hand, I did find it useful for picking up vocabulary, as long as I wrote the words down and looked up the meaning later.

I think the idea of passive listening is appealing to those who are trying to squeeze language learning into a busy life. (And who of us isn't?) It appears to be a way of doing something each day to progress the learning.

Sort of related to this, I've just come to the conclusion that I might find it more productive to work in bursts of intensive study rather than fitting in thirty minutes to an hour each day over an extended period. I've been trying to do the latter, but it's not helping me to make progress, so I'm going to experiment with intensive
bursts once I come back from holiday and settle back into a routine again. I'd already realised that an intensive Welsh course of one week's duration involves as many hours of study as a once a week class for an entire academic year (70 hours). I always seemed to make a big leap forwards during an intensive week, not only with language knowledge but with confidence in speaking to others. It will be interesting to see if I can replicate this effect with self-study.

Unfortunately for the language learning, I teach creative writing, so if I'm responding to students' queries and commenting on their stories, my brain is so full of English, there's no room for the Welsh. I don't seem to be able to switch over fast enough to get enough useful work done. Instead, I think I'm going to have to arrange my work so I can dedicate two or three days or even a week if I can manage it to totally immersing myself in Welsh: reading, listening and speaking as much as possible and trying to avoid using English during that period.

Thinking about it, I do tend to be a burst writer when it comes to fiction and when I have assignments to do, I tend to drop everything else (at least as far as it's possible to do so) and focus solely on the essay. Most time management advice suggests assigning a time each day for each activity (eg Julie Morgenstern's time map) and this does work for some things, eg housework and paid work, but if it's two activities that each take up my whole brain capacity the system falls down. Though this might be something that isn't a problem to other, perhaps younger people, of course.

(Crossposted to LJ and Dreamwidth. If you want to comment, please feel free to do so at whichever site you find most convenient.)

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