Listening Comprehension.... best methods to study

Hi All

Strap yourself in, this is a long ramble…

Some personal background, I am from Dublin, but have lived in London for a very long time now, I have some friends in Lisbon and travel there at least half a dozen times a year and plan to relocate at some point or live in both countries, hence the interest in language. I am self teaching and have had no formal lessons/ teaching yet; my Portuguese friends lead very busy lives and don’t have the time to teach, also they ironically work as English teachers in Lisbon, so asking them for lessons feels like asking them to bring the job home! They obviously are helpful when I need them, but I would prefer to find a dedicated partner or commence professional lessons (they are expensive)…so my day to day access to speaking is not great at the moment and I obviously need to address this and I am currently trying to find language partners.

I have made a really big effort to focus seriously on learning Portuguese in the last 4 months, it had been pretty much stop start with no real continuity prior to that, mainly due to work etc. and this has been a source of frustration. I now have a good routine and areas such as grammar have progressed massively; I am now focusing on listening comprehension and really plan to ramp it up over the next few months, I have really not given this area of learning enough attention to date… maybe subconsciously avoiding it as I find it the most difficult, which I think is a common experience.

I have obviously been consuming the listening comprehension on this site and it is helping massively, but I feel I probably need to couple that with the best method that works for me and is the the most productive, this method, and whilst I am seeing progress, I have not quite settled on a method yet and feel it probably could be improving faster if my method was adjusted. I am pretty sure I am falling in to the trap of overthinking it and analyzing the language in detail, stopping too frequently and focusing too much on the technical aspects of the audio as opposed to just listening and understanding.

Anyhow I have been reading a lot about methodologies to get the most from listening comprehension study whilst ensuring memory retention. As you can imagine there are a 1000 recommendations on the web on the best ways to achieve this…!

I would love to hear peoples opinions on a couple of the common themes that are mentioned in some of the blogs I have read and videos on youtube etc.

The first common discussion point is the length of material for a given lesson, audio clip etc… a common opinion seems to be that each listening comprehension audio clip should not be too short… what is short ?!.. I guess this is a function of what level your at… from a personal point of view, my own listening comprehension level is probably upper end of A2. Some of the recommendations I have read suggest a audio/ video clip of around 3-5 mins or 3-5 pages of text. Most of the lessons on this site are quite short 1.5 - 2 mins…so curious to hear peoples views on this…??

In terms of best methods to practice listening comp, common recommendations suggest listening to the who audio clip many times before starting to break it down, this recommendation is based on the assumption, that the respective audio clips are above your level but not significantly so i.e. you should probably understand a “good portion” of the dialogue (not sure what “good portion” means, but the phrase could probably be interchanged with “most”. Breaking it down can mean many things, but maybe focusing on vocabulary that is most frequently used in the clip that you do not understand as its probably important to the understanding and context of the clip and progressing to unknown infrequent vocab.

Love to hear people opinions and experiences and recommendations in terms of the length of audio clips to study and best methods…

Thanks in advance…(if your still reading) :slight_smile:

Hello. For me I find that the length of text is governed by how much I understand. So if the whole thing is for example level A2 and about 2 mins and the first few sentences are full of new vocab or expressions then my focus is lost and I just have to stop and take it a bit at a time. On the other hand if I am getting the gist of things I can listen for much longer. Personally optimum lengths or listening or reading depend on my level, for example of tiredness, other things going on around me and so on. Today I have spent about an hour of very focussed learning because it’s been peaceful with no competing demands. On other occasions I have a 2 sentence exchange with a Portuguese person and perhaps they use a word or phrase with which I am unfamiliar and so I look that up and sometimes look up similar words and note the differences or not in use Eg Aproveitar, Divertir-se and gozar this would lead me to things like Apreciar a vida, Diverta-se, Gozar a vida, Desfrutar da vida, Gozar de boa Saúde. Then there will be a time of physical activity, cleaning the house or a walk when I leave this sort of stuff to brew in the background and make new links in my brain and understanding.
So it’s a long way of saying that for me there are not optimal lengths of text etc . I am a fan of 5 -10 minute learning probably because I did an Open university degree when my children were small and I was working nights so learning often took place at bus stops or whilst cooking dinner etc etc For me consistent application is best and optimum lengths of time vary
I found your questions interesting. Thanks