Listening Exercises

I thought I’d share my experience so far with the listening exercises, so here goes. When I first listened to them, I’d already completed the 25 lessons of the course and so whizzed through them one after the other. As a very first impression, I found them very difficult to understand (especially the double speed ones) and felt they needed a lot of concentration to even understand snippets. I gave them one or two more goes and then left them.
Since then I started meeting up once a week to practice my Spanish with “real” people. I found that although there were obviously holes in my vocab, I could hold my own when I was speaking regarding forming the nessecary sentance strucures etc. but had a hard time understanding the other two when they were speaking, well a very hard time to be honest.
With this and seeing Bakari’s post on the forum (which praises the speaking exercises) I decided to revisit them. Over the last week I’ve listened through each of them at least 5-6 times. I still find it difficult to follow probably half of what is said, partly because I listen when I’m driving so can only give so much concentration to them. However, I’ve noticed that due to the speed of what is said it is impossible to follow every word, but when I still sort of concentrate (but not overly on trying to hear the individual words as such) and relax and try and listen to the overall noise (if that’s the right phrase?) I seem to understand what was said without actually knowing exactly what was said if that makes sence? This sort kicks in and then I lose it and then it kicks in again a bit at the moment so I end up sort of following the conversation in phases.
I noticed yesterday at our meet-up that I found it much easier to follow what was being said in general than in previous weeks also, so it seems to have led to a definite improvement to my listening skills, when listening “in the wild” also.
I’ll try and re-visit the listening exercises again over the next week to see if it develops further. I have to admit I find it hard going listening to them, quite different to the lessons where even with the most challenging lessons I actually enjoy doing them. I feel like I need I lie down and a stiff drink after doing the listening practices!

Hello Dai,

Thank you for sharing your experience with the course, it’s immensely valuable to us to read how users feel about the different aspects of the course. I completely understand about the challenging nature of the “double speed” listening practices. The first time I listened to them I had to really focus to keep up with the different phrases, even though it was my own voice I was listening to!

As a devoted language learner I know how difficult it can be to be thrown into real life situations where you need to understand the language spoken at a normal pace, after spending most of your time listening to student lessons where everything seems so clear and slow-paced. Your comment about how your brain understands what is said without actually going into each single word is right on the money, I believe. Aran can go into much more detail about why this actually happens, but I feel you are on the right track to fluency by using these speed-up practices and exposing yourself to “live” real-world conversations.

The actual speed of the language can fluctuate a lot depending on the situation the speaker finds himself into, but there is also a big difference in speed between, let’s say, a speaker from Bogota and someone from Madrid (much faster!), so exposing yourself to patterns you are familiar with at different speeds can make a huge difference in how fast you develop your understanding of the language.

Segui adelante y mucha suerte con el estudio!


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Really interesting to hear about this, Dai, thanks very much for sharing… :sunny:

Don’t worry too much about really close listening - what you describe as ‘listening to the overall noise’ is pretty much the ideal, and if you put yourself through that for five or ten minutes a day for a couple of weeks, you’ll definitely get some real change going on - probably a combination of the neurological processes and learning to identify words/phrases from a smaller subset of their constituent sounds.

It doesn’t, of course, solve the problem of people using words you don’t know in conversation - but it does give you a very serious advantage in having a little extra time to try and figure them out from context… :sunny:


For me, understanding what people say is most difficult. I discovered, like most people do, that learning to read, write and even speak Spanish is relatively easy compared to understanding what is being said. That is why I was so attracted to SSi. I wanted to experience that high speed process and as you mentioned I was not disappointed.

A few months ago, I became frustrated when I realized the gap between my reading and writing vs. speaking and listening skills. I decided to amp up my listening practice even more. I already watched three to five videos of Yabla on iTunes each day, which helped a lot. However, I tried a few new things.

  1. I started watching Spanish videos for kids on Youtube! (Calico Spanish by Kidsimmersion to be specific). Their one to two minute videos taught me a lot of Spanish quickly. I had ah-ha moments and the music was so catchy that the speech patterns stuck.

  2. I use websites such as Spanish Proficiency Exercises at UT Austin . They have short clips, from beginner to advanced, of people speaking Spanish and you can switch back and forth with the English to make sure you know what is being said. I usually listen to three to five a day.

  3. I also use this guy to learn Spanish, even though his focus is on English: Jared Hendricks . I have found that people who teach Spanish people English, speak just slow enough in their videos for me to practice listening. He also teaches through cartoons for adults. For other videos I would look up the term, “appender ingles” on Youtube! and you will probably find that you can understand quite a bit. They are speaking in Spanish but they are teaching so they have to be clear and concise.

My goal is just to keep listening and I have been gradually ramping up the speed of the people I listen to. It has really helped as just about every week I have breakthroughs and can understand something I could not understand a few weeks before. This method has let me feel as if I am in control.

SSi’s method, although challenging, is great because even though it is extremely fast, you are still in the driver’s seat as you have reviewed the material and know what is going on even if you don’t understand everything.


Sorrry for the delay in getting back to everyone. Thanks to Gaby for the encouraging words. Regarding different speakers of Spanish I’d heard that Spanish Speakers in Spain tend to talk quite a bit faster that their South American counterparts.
I’ve mostly concentrated on listening to listening practice 5 this week. I find strangely if I listen to it twice - once straight after the other, that I understand differnt parts of the conversation the second time round than the first. Anyway, it’s definitely helped me during my conversation session, with understanding what is being said. Like you mention Aran, even though the other 2 speakers may be using words/phrases I haven’t yet come accorss I seem to be able to piece together much better the general gist of what they’re saying now.
Thanks for the links Bakari, I’ll definitely have a look at those. I definitely think I’m getting to the point where I need to expose myself to more spoken Spanish and since my options for meeting up with speakers s limited definitely think I’d benefit from listening to Spanish media.

It sounds as though you’re doing excellently. With Spanish media, although it means extra work, I’d strongly recommend trying to get blocks of audio that either come with a transcript or that you can arrange to have transcripted (and translated where necessary) and then double their speed (or triple, once you feel you’re used to double) - it’ll get much more input, and more comprehensible input, happening for you than just listening to the media in a non-structured way.

It’s something that I want us to offer after the end of L3, but I’m afraid that’s probably going to be some time next year!

That’s what those double speeds are meant for … And I found Cymraeg ones (also with double speed) much more challenging then Spanish ones. It’s like Cymraeg would be excellerated for just a tinny step more then Spanish … sooo … you who are learning Spanish are the lucky ones :slight_smile: (don’t get me too sirious on that, please :slight_smile: )

Ups, I only now saw I’ve bumped old topic up, but OK. I hope this is not such a sin though. deleting my answer now wouldn’t do any better in terms of this.

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