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How To Learn Sign Language

Can you learn a language just by listening?


Hey, guys. Welcome to engVid. Today’s
lesson is a little bit different, it’s me talking about: Is it possible for
you to learn a language just by listening? This is something that I think many of us
would love, love, love, love to be true. I can just learn a language by listening,
I don’t have to really do anything if I just spend enough
time listening, then, you know, I’ll be able to speak;
I’ll have learned the language. So, some ways we might do this are… Could
be watching… Watching TV in that language, you’re trying to learn
and just think: “Well, I’m… I’m learning. I’m
learning stuff just by watching.” Another way is you move to a different
country, and you spend time around native speaker friends, and you don’t
understand anything, but you’re like: “Well, I’m learning. The more time I spend doing this,
I’ll get to a point where I can just speak the language.” And that is a situation that I, myself, have
been in many times in my life. If you put all the time together, I would say I probably
wasted a couple of years of my life, taking that approach, just thinking you learn by
listening. Now, don’t get me wrong, you do learn how to understand what people are talking
about if you take that approach. You know, you’re the only one who doesn’t speak the
same language that everybody else speaks, you’re the only one who doesn’t speak it,
after a while you do kind of understand what people are talking about, so you can often
guess from the situation. But that doesn’t mean the same thing as being able to put a
sentence together, and join in in the conversation in that language. Because although you kind
of understand what people are saying, you just haven’t developed the skill of moving
your tongue and saying the words of the other language. So I would say taking that approach
is a very, very frustrating, and slow, and ineffective way to learn any language. And
that’s based from my personal experience. If the language that you’re hoping, trying,
wishing to learn is very close to your language, then of course, you will understand much,
much more of what is being said, and you’ll be able to guess many of the words. But if
the language is completely different to your native language, it’s a really ineffective
way to expect to learn a language, because there’s just not a lot you can guess. The words
are very different, the grammar structure is very different. And have you ever been in that situation when
you’re the only one who doesn’t understand anything? Well, I’ve been in that situation
many times, and I don’t know if this happens to all people, but this happens to me. After
a while, you stop listening. And, at least I do, and I start thinking about my own things
in my head. So you’re there, but you’re not even listening. And you
have to ask yourself: Is this the same thing
that’s also happening if you’re watching a movie that’s spoken in
a language that you don’t understand? Are you actually listening to the words, or are you
just reading subtitles in your own language that you understand? So that’s an important part
of it as well. Is that time you are listening to the language you want to learn, are you
using that time with your ears, really awake and switched on to what people are saying?
Because I think most of the time, when you don’t actually know that language, you’re not
fully listening because you don’t understand anything. You’re really concentrating on something
you don’t understand, it’s a very hard thing to do for more than a
couple of minutes. So, learning a language just by listening,
in my opinion, is a very frustrating, slow way to learn a language. Of course, we all
learn like this when we are children, but that’s a very different situation, because
when we’re babies, we’re always surrounded by this language, we’re the one that doesn’t
speak, and the people around us interact with us and get us to say words one by one, and
then, you know, language comes slowly, comes slowly, comes slowly. But as adults, we don’t
get that kind of attention, one-to-one from the native speakers, and we
just don’t have that long. We don’t have that long to
be not understanding things. So, if you’re in that situation, or thinking
that you’re just going to learn a language by listening, I want you to stop frustrating
yourself, stop lying to yourself, and get to the point
where you’re like: “Well, how am I actually going to learn
this language?” if you want to learn. “How am I actually
going to learn it?” And the way that you learn is by being active. And there are so many different
ways you can be active when it comes to learning a language. But it means the… Rather than just taking in
by watching or by listening, you actually have to be putting effort from
your side into learning that language. So the ways that I most like to be learning a
language in an active way by writing, I just find it very helpful for me to use my hand
when I’m learning something. Even if I never look at it again, I do like this with a paper,
throw it over my shoulder. For me, it’s very helpful to write things down again and
again. Sometimes it’s very helpful. Other ways of being active, are of course,
doing speech practice, having someone you can speak to. But if you don’t have anyone
to speak to, don’t worry, because you can speak to yourself. You can speak,
and speak, and speak to yourself. When you’re watching engVid
videos, you can write comments. You can also do the quiz
at the end of the lesson. These are ways to be interactive. And I encourage
you to take notes of the lessons as well. Just keep doing it, be active, and that is what’s
going to get you out of that frustration of: “I’m learning a language, but I think I’m learning
a language, but I’m not getting any better.” Because if you are just watch, watch,
listen, listen – it’s not going to take you where you want to be with learning your
language in a quick enough, fast enough time. So what I want to do now is invite you to
leave a comment, if you’ve got any tips for learning a language in an active way.
And also, after you leave a comment, go and do the quiz
for today’s video. I want to say thank you for watching, and
come and join us again at engVid soon. And until next time, bye.

100 Replies to “Can you learn a language just by listening?”

  • Yeah, it's true if you don't understand anything you start to think about your own things.
    It's really frustrating and useless if you listen and watch something which you don't understand. It's better learning grammar and some vocabularies before and then listening. In my opinion, a good way to improve is with reading and writing.

  • what you say isn't for my opinion not really true.Because english speak it has bekome a market, and I will you say naturally we need right grammar and extensive vocabollary ,but only with grammar not to reach one complicated and exstensive vocabollary ,

  • I've found the listening method works well if you use it as half your way to learn. I spend half my time learning a language by watching movies and listening to music, the other half actively learning. So I understand more of what is said, and it's easier to pick up new words from listening.

  • Actually ,I'm doing many things to improve my English including reading books,watching movies,listening to songs,and studying phonetics,but I feel that my English is not getting better the way I've expected.I 'm desperate .When I start to speak,I forget everything.I really need some help!

  • Yeah you're definitely right. If learn just by listening was true, I would probably be fluent in Japanese right now and guess what… i'm not even at a basic level lol

    The writing thing always works for me too, guess it activates a specific part of the brain that's attached to the memory.

    Edit* : Btw, english isn't my first language.

  • I learn English by listening. Same goes to Japanese language.

    I understand what you're trying to say though. Peace.

  • I believe in this, my brain is powerful enough to recognize pattern. I don't know about other people. I can't find any English native speaker around me. But still, I can understand what you're saying without reading subtitles. I strongly believe that if you listen ATTENTIVELY, sooner or later you will be able to understand a language. Just imagine, blind people can speak pretty well too. Lol they depend on their sense of hearing, it's very easy to conclude. The problem is not the approach, it is the mindset, lack of focus, and laziness. This causes people become slow learners. I remember back then when I was in school, most students were just playing when the teacher was teaching at the front. Again, lack of focus= lazy.

  • Everybody should know that listening can help you your listening only but it can not help you speak and write. Listening tests are only one of the important methods every foreigner should do regularly.

  • I disagree a little I’m learning Arabic and am considered dyslexic,have a LD and ADD.. because Arabic is sooo different then English reading was teaching me nothing because words look this this مآربها vs English letters and adding vowel sounds and new marking to the words made it harder. So, the only way im picking up on the language is by listing. While listing I repeat and that’s helping with my pronunciation of the language. Everyone knows 1 slip in a second language a mispronounce a innocent word can turn into something else 😂😂…Yes I can sound out the letters but mispronounce words so listing is very important. To me for some learning a language is like music once you hear a word or phrase over and over you pick up on it and when you hear it it reminds you of that song ooor in language the word it means in your first language. Also, for people with learning disabilities listing is usually their only option in learning a language.
    Also, listen may not help with talking examples when you meet someone who can understand a second language but can speak the second language.
    If Only Reading: they may be the person who can speak the language but can’t hold small talk in the language.
    Also, people learn from listing everyday think about it how do most people pick up on new words in their 1st language? By interacting and listing. How do small children learn a second language? From listing they may not be able to read or write in that language but they can speak it and understand from being around it and listing.
    I meet 4 people who learned English from watching tv. I meet 1 person who learned Spanish from being around Hispanics at his school and being in a predominantly Hispanic area.
    My older brother was a military kid at 3 my mom thought he couldn’t talk. Took him to the pediatrician and she was confused told my mom he speaks fine my mom said no he doesn’t the doctor was confused then it hit her she asked my mom does he play outside with the German kids and my mom said well yes and goes to daycare the doctor laughed and said Mrs…. he’s speaking German.. the whole time my mom thought he couldn’t talk. Doctor said he asked me for fries like 3x…😂😂😂😂
    Again I learned from listing to disc over and over and over never shut them off only at night. And watching children shows in the language because children shows speak very basic and slow in all languages lol

  • Good point but in fact I try watching a lot of native speakers, podcast, films and so on. Just cuz I'm not good in listening and now I have an opportunity to speak with an american friend and I need to understand him as well as I can.

  • I learned english and german when I was like 5 from cartoons without subtitles, now I'm 16 and I'm learning french in school for a whole school year now and Its going well but not as good as when I was a kid and now I want to learn spanish alongside french but on youtube and stuff but idk if I can learn it like I used to as a kid

  • HI jade. tanks for your lessons.. what language have you tried to learn just listening? i am italian and i have been learning himself (seriosly) english for about 1,5 years. i have started to learn english watching videos on youtube. now i drive many hours a day for job and i use this time to listen mp3 audios in english all the time, almost every day. at home i do exercise from a grammarbook and watch video in english. i hknow i have much work to do again, but i think i have improved my skills. tanks a lot..bye

  • I started thinking in English, and try myself into a test (inside my mind) I talk and thinks English, even though, my vocabulary was very limited at least you make ans effort and in just a month later I was sleeping and thinking English as well.
    so continue improving everyday, try to focus and relax.

  • O my God, I have got 8/9 score at the quiz on the website. I didn't thought that i get the video at once. I was watching without subscriptions😱😂

  • I learned Turkish just by listening, and i can communicate to ppl from there .. i can understand them and they understand me , but the problem is that i can’t write or read .

  • First I was hesitating if I should comment but then when you said about 'you may leave a comment' I decided to do this) Well, from my own experience I can say that if you watch a movie you've never seen and heard in your native tongue, that's really useless, but sometimes, especially when you know the plot of movie literally 'by heart' that's much more helpful, because you can guess some words and even phrases and obveously, having previous preparation and watching interesting (necessarily) thing you can learn a language the most fun and interesting to you way. That was how I've mastered Armenian for a couple month watching several movies over and over till I was able first – to recognize words, than phrases and finally repeat them. And one more important condition – you have to be really obsessed by that language. Otherwise, you will not be able to proceed your learning and leave it very soon.

    The basic scheme was like following:

    1) reading about some part of grammar and a bit words (from context or writing yourself)
    2) after 1 watching a movie till you get bored
    3) and finally using gotten skillsdirectly in practice at different sites and in life (if you have such opportunity)

    So, that it) wish you luck with your languages)

  • From my experience , I could say that learning a language through listening to songs is a very effective way!. At least , in my case it works great , because you can remember the words better , it's fun, it shows you how to pronounce the sounds and gives you some context for the vocabulary

  • You said one can kind of understand by listening. If that's all you can do then what you're listening to is definitely too far above your level.

    Listening is the key to speaking, but you need to be listening to something that is comprehensible, maybe 90%+ comprehension. Sounds like what you're talking about is passive listening which, of course, doesn't work.

  • I think you could understand me if you ever had depression. It's so difficult time. And it takes a lot of time, really.

  • Well If you know the basics of the language and you move to a country where that language is spoken, I think you will be able to get to the point where you speak it fluently in 1-2 years.

  • I think that English is a really powerful way to learn another language, maybe it's the basis to learn a language because if you don't make input you don't will get a language and if you don't get a language, you don't will be able to make output. Of course that the people can't only listening, it involves others skills, but in my opinion, listening is the most important skills to development.

  • Well, I've never been to an English speaking country. Yet, I am close to a native speaker. Only took 10 or so years and thousands of hours spent playing games and watching American TV shows with subtitles 😂..

  • Hi! I agree! Listening is very useful and help me a lot, but the actual practice of writing and speaking the language with others make the difference to achieve another level.

  • I learned English just by listening and Google Translate. Maintenant j'apprends le français de cette même façon-la

  • To be honest i feel like people are different every one find a different way that suits their brain ! For me 4 years ago I couldn’t speak English…I didn’t have money to pay for the course in the UK or the US or other countries so I joined a class in my country! I wasted my money and my time!!!! For me learning a language is by LOVING it first! I found something i love but in English! It’s makeup tutorials then started watching vlogs ! I didn’t use my language until I worked with English speakers after 2 years of listening! I actually was happy with the way I spoke with them ! Yes my spelling was bad but it’s a good start….while my friend it was a helpful way to learn in class for her …we are different ❤️

  • I learned German and English just by watching tv. And I'm native level at both. And also some intermidiete fluent Italian with tv only…

  • Listening is the most important part of learning how to speak. Although it is not enough on its own, I wouldn't go as far as saying it is a waste of time. I see it as
    an important step to understanding how the language works. If you don't listen enough, you would never know the way sentences are structured and would have nothing to imitate when it comes to speaking. Instead of switching off, you should start imitating native speakers and learn how to speak that way. So, I completely disagree with you. You can actually go quite far in your language learning by just listening. PS I learnt a good half of my Japanese just watching Japanese dramas. And yes, I am a linguist and speak other languages, too.

  • I have completed studying basic English grammar and now am concentrating on listening audios …..for me it's working…. we must learn some basic English grammar then go for listening audios and watch jade's English classes 😉 I can guarantee your English would improve in two months…….

  • i disagree with you, cause if you don't have a good listening skills how can you understand what is said to you and how can you interact if you don't understand, in my openion it's very important to devlope your listening skills first and then speaking will come by his own

  • I have choosed english as a second language to learn, and i have used several ways for improving my English as self study but after one and half year i am not succed to become fluency.

  • After five months learning English I can understand the video, not completely, but the content I can undestand.(I'm learning English by Reading, listening and every day i learn new vocabulary).

  • Idk how but I started talking Irish out of no where what do I do I'm English and live in the United states all my life

  • i would say that just leaning won't help you to be fluent in language, yes maybe you will able to understand what others say, but when it comes to speaking, it very difficult, and we call this a passive skills , to be able to speak you have to open your mouth and let the words come out from it, and within the time you will increase your fluently, so to clarify the things, fluently mean understanding and speaking, but after my own experience learning is very important tips you can use to be fluent in language

  • I learned by listening people talking and also from TV, radio. I think listening very useful for me to leaned English language.

  • I completely and strongly agree with you dear, as you said learing only by watching or listening is frankly weasting of time
    For example : let us imagine that you want to learn how to drive a car will you really be able to drive a car just by watching some one driving it or even if he explains to you days and days about how to drive , will that make you a professional driver ?
    Absolutely not !!
    So I just gave this example to enhance and strengthen the idea of your video
    Thanks for your efforts and your advises ,

  • Haha. I don't even know how I learned English…I wonder how do I know some of the words I know.. I understood everything you said and I can definitely form a sentence. I never opened a single grammar book..but…I quess it's working for me.

  • The first thing to do is ask yourself "why do I want to learn English? " OK it seems weird but you can't avoid the question. Most people want to learn a language in order to be able to communicate. That's it! COMMUNICATE! First thing : learn the grammar basis, watching TV, videos, reading will help of course. But do remenber you have to communicate! (and, again, it's the reason why you want to learn. Try to meet English people to speak to, that's the most efficient way. And if you can go to England, get your skates on and go!

  • Interesting… does anybody feel that listening to tv, podcasts, or conversations help you while also taking steps at learning the language?

  • Listening and reading helps to intake language but unless we speak and write we won't be able to express ourselves.
    Hence writing and speaking are imperative for learning a language

  • The thing is, as long as the input is *comprehensible*, you will acquire the language. And I'm also speaking from my own expirience here.

  • Well I understand perfectly everything you re saying in this video, and I learned english like 2% in school and 98% by watching movies, YouTube, video games… Without efforts, so I can t agree with you on this one… I m french BTW

  • decode first then listen ….kids learnt language by listening. their parents help them to decode the language. as we are adult we have to decode by ourself.first we start by listening to small conversation which come from language teaching books .then we use software program to split a long video to small conversation we decode it then listen to the conversation for many times ….i promise you for one year you will be able to understand and speak the foreign language

  • TL;DR (warning, my opinion) Yes, however you need context. Instead of just listening, try to watch as well.

  • It's not true, the best way of learning a new language is buy listening et practicing on how to speak. Now if you don't listen how will know the sounds of the words. Said by you?

  • Anyone want to speak English fluently but they lost our confidence and some people can undestand English but anyone people can not share our think in english and some people say I do not undestand parnuncaion how can anyone undestand this problems ?

  • You're right. I also have fallen into this trap, but everything depends on what results you want for yourself. I started learning English by listening to a lot of English, and with this method, I developed my listening, and now I'm able to understand spoken English easily. Can I speak fluently as well? No, I can speak in a modesty way because I have a lot of English in my mind, but it's not enough to speak freely. I don't regret of starting by listening because this was what I want, to be able to understand movies and Tv show, but as you have already said, just listening isn't enough to develop all English areas. Right now, I'm focusing on speaking by taking classes on Italki, and it's helping me a lot.

  • if the question is "can you learn a language without speaking it?",it will worth to try,for many people who dont live or work with native speakers ,maybe foreign language just a tool and there's not worthy to put that much time and money into speaking skill.but the question is if you cant learn a language effectively or efficiently without speaking it.

  • I respectfully disagree with you that listening to people speak in a second language is a waste of time. I have actually improved significantly by watching television shows, movies and listening to the radio in my target language. That being said, I highly suggest that it should not be a persons only approach to learning a second language either. It is still essential to learn the basics of grammar of course if you want to avoid being misunderstood.

  • I’ve been trying to learn Japanese by watching only Japanese audio anime, listening to Japanese while sleeping, and podcasts, I also do Duolingo and it’s helped a lot I just gotta start saying the words as well

  • You are right, I tried alot to speak Eng language throught listening and watching movies but it does not work. I can understand the lang yet I have many difficulties when I involved in such conversation. What shall I do???

  • the point is we don't know how to learn language properly, because each person has his own methods. Some person can know well any language via listening, but another person can say that he learnt via reading. So you don't need to abandon your plenty of listening, you need to continue looking for a good way for learning language

  • I have a quastione. Can someone improve language skills, by only practice(talk, listen, read all), without reading a special books to learn.(improve, not start, for example pre-intermidiate to advanced).

  • I totally agree with you!! Now, I'm trying to learn french by checking videos and listening to podcasts, but it is not quite the same as expressing yourself in that target language. I think the most efficient way to learn a new language is through speaking (once you understand some basic grammar and vocabulary). I think it summarizes everything. Meanwhile, listening is the best way to start learning a language.

  • What a trash video, we don't learn a language in the first place and YES we acquire it by listening a lot and interacting with natives of that language. I never needed to guess the words I couldn't understand immediately because they came back later in other phrases making me understand them, but sure, keep going "learning" a language through grammar on your channel. LOL

  • The studies show the truth of "comprehensible input". I am going to try this approach without traditional hard work.

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