Step 05: Listen Actively

Listening Comprehension

What you need to know

This step will help you fine-tune your listening skills. The better you understand what others are saying, the more secure you will feel with them and the greater the beneficial effect on your speaking skill. There are two kinds of listening: Active and passive listening. You can stop the video at 01:24 for now as we will talk about passive listening later in this course.

Most German learners would like to have a conversation in German at one point, but real life rarely provides us with ideal conditions for conversations. We have to be able to understand others in a loud environment, via the phone, or Skype which often is far from optimal. To be able to understand spoken German, you must learn how to recognise relevant key words. In the beginning, everything sounds just like one big blur.

Active Listening - How it is done

Simply listen to the audio of the text that you have been working on in the steps before. Pause frequently to let sink in what you have heard. The second time you listen to the audio, try to pause less frequently. Feel free to listen several times and to look up an occasional word in your vocabulary notebook while listening, just in case you need it. Listen until you feel you understand most of it when playing the audio in one piece. Do not overdo it though. Always remain aware of your exhaustion and frustration levels. I will talk about this awareness in a later chapter.

Now listen to chapter 01 of Die Tote Frau im Garten. Make sure to pause frequently to give your brain a couple of milliseconds to process what it has just heard.

Slow version

Fast version

Which word is missing?

Play the audio again and try to hear which word is missing.

Rationale behind this step

To be able to recognise individual words, you must at first “cognise“ them, know them. This step is what you have been preparing for with the help of the steps before. By the time you have reached this step, you should be familiar with the meaning and the sounds of most words that you are listening to. But take things easy. Do not expect to be perfect too soon. Understanding words that you don’t know yet remains a challenge and it will certainly take you a few months until you can comfortably follow a conversation among Germans.

→ It is crucial to pause after a certain amount of input as your brain should have the opportunity to digest what it takes in. If you don’t pause, new information might disturb your memory trying to save just learned information and saving old information might prevent new information from sinking in.

Share your Thoughts

Also try to explain in your own words what you have learned in this lesson.