B2 | 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. I'll get to passive listening in a few lectures from now. Don't worry about that at the moment.

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. Then listen a second time but now you hit "pause" less frequently. Feel free to listen several times and to look up an occasional word, just in case it nags you. Listen until you feel you understand about 70% of the text 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 the audio of the text Gastfreundschaft. Make sure to pause frequently to give your brain a couple of milliseconds to process what it has just heard.


Listen actively


Can you answer the following questions?


Rationale behind this step

To be able to "re.cognise" important words, you must at first “cognise“ them, i.e. 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. You might also be able to figure out the meaning of unknown words by paying attention to their context. 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. The aim though is of course to be able to take in more and more information. Just like preparing for a marathon, don't try to run it in one piece right away. Train towards it.


Share your Thoughts

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

Discussion

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