Listening practices....Much Too Fast?

It’s been described as ‘listening to the chipmunks on a bad day’! :grinning:


But don’t start with the Level 2 ones - those are for people who have been listening to the Level 1 collection for a decent amount of time… start with the Level 1 - maybe do one each day, and cycle through the 4 accelerated ones - then after about a month of that, you’ll be noticing that you’re catching more of the phrases, and you’ll be ready to move on to the faster Level 2 set… :slight_smile:

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Righto, that sounds like good advice to me…I’ll start back from the beginning again. Diolch yn fawr iawn.


Would it be worth looking at pitch correction in order to keep the speed but change the chipmunk voices back to normal?

(Maybe this is already done - I don’t have access to the more advanced material)


I tried that using Audacity (I’d imagined that it was being caused by a fault in my computer connection, or my Windows 10 update problems) but I wasn’t able to improve on it very much…I just assumed it was a technical problem for us…

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Oh, I didn’t know they exist. Have to take a look (or I’ve forgotten they do) … :slight_smile:

Otherwise there was almost all said about these chipmunk practices in these recent particular topics:

Here in the list are only the forum topics from this year and I hope it can bring some help and understanding of why and how.

Tatjana :slight_smile:

EDIT to include @DaiRoberts’s own (I believe first on this forum) topic here
Shwmae Pawb


That’s odd - you should have - let me see if I can fix that for you.

On the acceleration - Jeff has worked all possible magic on it, so I’m certain they’re as good as can be… :slight_smile:

Utterly useless, just chipmunk gobbledygook. Waste of time!

This is a breach of forum rules, Dai (see here: Forum rules - Welsh).

We have a VERY strict rule here that we expect politeness and friendliness at all times, and your post is neither polite nor friendly (nor true, as it happens).

Please adjust your tone to fit within forum guidelines - we operate on a ‘two strikes and out’ basis.

Thank you.


Because of such thinking of some people I’ve pointed out those topics I’ve listed above, where everything about the listening practices is explained by several of us and where is also several times explained why these listening practices are as they are, what they’re meant for etc. I hoped I could prevent such attitude with pointing out some of the topics where the matter was already discussed and I’m really very sorry I didn’t succeed in this atempt.



I fail to see where I broke the rules!! But dim probs, will just lurk from now on…parting shot…any links to evidence of where such speeded up content helps a language? Diolch.

I’ve been going through the listening practices for the SSI Welsh and Spanish courses for quite a few weeks now and have already noticed them working well for me. I’d like to add my 2 cents on this subject, and make a comparison between speed reading and listening comprehension (Aran discusses this subject somewhat in his book ‘Highly Intensity Language Training’, but I’d like to talk about my own experiences of it).

Years ago I did a self study course on speed reading. The basic concept to train you up was to move your finger as fast as possible across lines of text that you want to read - often up to 5 times faster than you might currently read - while keeping your eyes focused on the text where your finger is. The purpose of using the finger to read was so that your eyes could focus on where you were at all times, rather than accidentally going back to the same line twice.

Using this method, at first everything will seem a bit blurred and incomprehensible, but after enough time doing this on a regular basis, your eyes and brain eventually ‘catch up’ and are able to start to comprehend what you read at this much higher speed.

The next part of his method was to slow down the rate of moving your finger across text, so that you’re doing it maybe 2 to 3 times as fast as your normal reading speed. Now this is where is gets interesting. He likened it a bit like driving a car at different speeds. Let’s say you drive a car at 35 mph, then speed up to 70 mph in a few seconds. What you will notice is that for a short period of time, 70 mph will feel fast, but after a while it simply becomes the ‘new normal’ and doesn’t feel fast at all.

Now let’s say you speed up to drive at 120 mph (don’t actually drive that fast on real roads btw, this is just an example to explain the concept!). This new speed will feel very fast at first, but given enough time driving at this speed, your brain and instincts will catch up and again 120 mph will no longer feel all that fast.

The final part of this concept was to examine what happens if you slow down from 120 mph to 70 mph. What you will notice is that 70 mph feels ridiculously slow compared to 120 mph, but in reality it’s still TWICE the speed you were driving at originally.

I believe the same applies to listening to speech, and especially so when learning to comprehend a foreign language with your ears. You should listen at fast speeds, which will seem like ‘gibberish’ at first, but your brain WILL eventually start to figure out and comprehend what you’re hearing if you give it enough exposure on a regular basis. Then, if you slow the material down, but still make it faster than the original speed, it’ll magically all sound clear as a bell and you’ll be able to make out every word clearly (although, of course there will still be words you don’t understand yet because you haven’t learned them - though often these can be figured out from context).

As for me, I said I’ve been going through the listening practices on SSI for the last month or 2, for about 5 or 6 minutes per language. Like some others here, I was skeptical at first, but not anymore. The proof is in the results, and it’s already working - I’ve been on Youtube and watched some videos in Welsh and Spanish, and guess what, the speech DOES seem slow and clear in comparison to the listening practices, and I was able to pick out words, phrases and sentences and get a pretty good idea of what was being said. Of course I’ve still got a lot more vocabulary and structures to learn, so I don’t yet understand everything, but if I can start to see the payoff for the listening practices within a month or so, then I’m very excited for the future, as listening skills are usually the hardest thing to master in another language.

To those who may doubt this method - you have to stick with the listening practices consistently, day in day out, for at least a few weeks, in order to start seeing some results, but it will pay off. You only need to do 5 or 6 minutes a day listening in each language (but if you can do more, then great) in addition to the main lessons/challenges, so if you can’t find that time you can’t be very dedicated. Just don’t expect to listen a couple of times to the listening practices and then all of a sudden be able to understand everything you hear. Like I said, it’s going to take a few weeks, maybe a few months at least for your brain to catch up. But do them consistently and then go over to Youtube, look up some videos in the language you’re learning, and you’ll be amazed about how slow and clear it seems. It really will be a bit like slowing down from 120 mph to 70 mph in my earlier analogy.

I believe most language courses do this the wrong way round - they will teach listening practice at a slow speed, falsely believing that it will make the learner more able to understand what they’re hearing, so that when sped up to normal speed it will be more comprehensible. But in reality, all they’re doing is training the learner’s brain to be able to recognise speech at a slow speed, so it will be of no help in the long run of being able to understand real life speakers. So simply trust the method of listening at double speed, and you WILL see results in time.

I’m definitely going to explore the ‘double speed listening practice’ method further in my language studies, and I’ll hopefully write more about it then. Sorry this has been a very LONG reply, but I just felt all this needed to be said.


If you fail to see what is impolite and unfriendly about saying ‘Utterly useless, just chipmunk gobbledygook. Waste of time!’, then I’m afraid you’re not welcome in this community.

For anyone who is not sure about the accelerated listening exercises, please always feel free to ask - we’re happy to explain the thinking behind it, the relevant research in neuroplasticity, and the extensive evidence we’ve collected of its value… :slight_smile:

But, of course, as made clear in the forum rules, you need to ask in a friendly and polite manner… :slight_smile:


Not at all - it’s been a very interesting one! I think you’re absolutely on the money here - I’d add that in our experience with intensive work, scaling up the accelerated listening to an hour a day has quite startling results in just 5 days (one of the recent comments on a Facebook results video of a Spanish learner of ours was that her spoken Spanish was impressive, but it was hard to believe that her understanding of what was being said to her could possibly have developed that much in five days… :slight_smile: ).

I’d like to try and figure out more about how listening work impacts on overall understanding - if you take a single phrase, and record it at 3x or 4x speed, it becomes impossible NOT to understand it, in fairly short order - but you’d expect that effect not to apply to other phrases. And yet our listening exercises, which with very few exceptions only include content from our courses, seem to have a fair wider effect in terms of ability to follow what first language speakers are saying.

There may be some kind of overall increase in processing speed - or perhaps the parts of the language that you become able to process faster give you a couple of extra microseconds to deal with other words/structures that you haven’t practised listening to…

One thing seems clear so far - it’s very valuable to separate practise for new vocabulary and practise for accelerated processing - accelerated materials work much better with already familiar content. We’re looking forward to seeing how helpful accelerated versions of Beca’s content will be - I’m expecting it to be useful as a faster way to revise, but of limited value for the initial process of becoming familiar with the content.


I know that I’ve posted before about my experience with the sped-up listening practices, but this comment is rather too black-and-white for me to ignore, sorry!
Briefly, in response to realising that my Welsh listening skills were very poor, and that I hadn’t been doing the listening exercises carefully, I started a regimen in which I listened to the sped-up listening exercises for 10 minutes nearly every day. I had previously tried to listen to the Radio Cymru weekly summary programme (“Pigion”), and had not really understood anything.
After about 2-3 months of this daily practice, I again tried the Pigion, and the improvement amazed me. From experience, I can say that this method worked for me. And I still use the exercises (but not every day now), and I understand more of them as time goes on.


I’d also like to repeat another earlier comment of mine, that we spend our first year or two in life listening, without any responsibilities to distract us. And hey, we learn our mother tongue without realising it.
It would seem to me that we need to spend as much time as possible listening to a second language that we wish to learn. Of course, we can’t take off a year to just listen whilst abandoning all responsibilities, but we can at least try to fit in as much listening as possible. For example, I do listening and speaking practice whilst doing the housework.


Perhaps because the ‘SSI’ courses and listening practices focus on the core of the language, i.e. the most commonly used structures/vocab/fomulaic blocks, then we’re obviously going to hear this a lot in real life with speakers, on tv, radio, face to face etc so of course we’re going to be able to understand a fair portion of what’s being said if we follow this method. What you said makes good sense.

I’m actually surprised that the concept of double speed listening practice isn’t discussed much in the language learning community (at least not that I’m aware of). Conventional wisdom is simply to watch tv, films, listen to the radio etc in the target language and your ears and brains will eventually figure it all out. But listening at double speed is a very simple concept that works very effectively - it’s ironic that people sometimes overlook simple ideas like this.

I’m curious about the results of putting more time into listening practice each day. Do you think it would be beneficial to listen to the listening practices several times per day instead of just once?


Yup, definitely - that’s exactly what we do on the intensives, where we rack up an hour a day, usually with a mixture of northern and southern listening exercises… :slight_smile:

I’m with you - I’ve been expecting accelerated listening to become ‘the obvious thing’ for a long old while now - and I still think it will one of these days…


Polyglot conference discussed a lot of methods but (to my knowledge) not this one, which is a pity.

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After listening to Level 2 for a while, I went back and listened to Level 1 no 2. It didn’t seem to be speeded up at all. Every word was clear.

At Level 2, I’m still just picking up the odd phrase.

One thing really worries me about Level 2 no 1.
I hear “On i’n siarad gyda rhywun heddiw dweddodd wrtha’i bod hi’n moyn plant, ond dim nawr.” (“I was talking to someone today who told me that she wants children, but not now.”)
After that there is something about what she was doing last night.
“Dweddais i bod hi’n mynd i … neithiwr …so’ hi’n moyn plant.”
Then “Diolch yn fawr iawn. Dw i’n meddwl bod sy wedi bod yn siarad gyda mam i.” (“Thank you very much. I think that she has been talking with my mother.”) I’m not at all sure about the last bit.

Please - I have to know what she was doing last night.


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