Ronald woke up as if it was just another ordinary day. He couldn't imagine what surprises the linguistic world reserved for him under the striking mid-afternoon sun.
Having been into the language "business" for so long, he had been lately resigned to the fact that he wouldn't be able to understand a spoken language as spoken by its natives, at a natural speed. He could read without any problem, and that was usually the first gift language learning would bring him. He could also make his point over a wide range of subjects - unless talking about cooking, housekeeping, farming and several other activities that did not catch his attention in his native language alone. When it came to listening comprehension, though, all those texts in foreign languages became a solid, inscrutable blur. And they've remained so for the past 10 years. His writing skills kept on improving, he learned a few more languages at a basic level, but the invisible and sounding wall stood there, as if centuries would not have any effects on it.
People kept telling him - if not directly, at least through those many fortune-cookie language forum threads that keep popping up in the web - that he should stop worrying about the fact that he would listen to English TV series and French films and not get a word from them. He should know that his problem was just lack of practice. His ability to understand the subtitles of either French or English videos added to this fact.
Lack of confidence and fear of failure combined made a suggestion from a friend come in handy: why not try watching a lot with subtitles? "That would not be cheating", his friend says. "That will just help you associate the acoustic image with the script. You'll become more and more trained."
"Why not try that for a while? I have nothing to lose. I'll be watching some nice TV series and, if nothing happens with my listening skills, I can try other methods.", he thought to himself.
So he did this for a few weeks. Two seasons, to be more precise. His first TV series in French was a dubbed one. He kept following the subtitles, not realizing he could understand more and more of it. The mere idea that he could miss an important detail, a gag, an insightful remark from his favorite series kept him tied to the subtitles as a castaway to his lifeboat. As a positive side-effect, by reading the subtitles he could easily spot the new words. He learned a lot of French slang that way.
Parallel to this, he watched another TV series, this time in original American English audio. There was also a character who spoke with a heavy Australian accent. That and the excessive slang made things a little more difficult, but at least he was happy that he could understand the US English better and better.
Dropping the subtitles happened first in English, as the series he was watching in English didn't have a sort of a continuous plot. Missing one episode or two due to bad comprehension wouldn't hinder the comprehension of the upcoming ones. In the case of French, he proceeded to finish the whole series with the help of the subtitles. At the end, he barely looked up the subtitles as a separate text file at the computer.
Then came two new series. Dubbed again in French, original audio again in English. This time he made sure to find two series he wouldn't feel specially attached to the plot. No need to worry if anything went off the track, after all, these are just two ordinary stories.
Ronald got the episodes and decided to give them a try, a few hours after lunch, after he normally would have been through all of his learning activities for other languages at which he was still a beginner. No pressure, no time constraints.
"Time to hit the the 'Play' button and see what happens."
And it happened! The Greeks would have us call this an epiphany, and no word is less appropriate than that. You get the vocabulary, the grammar, the ear training over the years and one day, expectedly but unpredictably, it simply clicks. The blur starts to make sense. Instead of getting fixed short expressions, you get dialogues. You follow the story. You use the context, the environment, the emotions of the characters to help you understand what is going on. After all, that is what you do with your native language, namely when you watch TV in the background.
He tried it again the day after, the week after and he will keep doing this again and again, now with even less pressure. It is no longer about language learning. He thought the best part of seeing his goal achieved after so many years would be the joy of seeing the frustrations gone. It is much more than that, actually. Just like it happened with reading, when thousands of works became accessible to him, it happens all the same now with audio and video. An inexhaustible source of cultural, technical and entertaining materials is lying in front of him, ready to be explored. He is finally part of these cultures, because now he can listen to them. He learned to listen, the hardest skill to develop in this world where people want so much to be heard that they scream and shout and whine all day long at the newly-born social networks that seem to have always been there for the younger generations.
Now Ronald is finally able to share and understand. He got a new soul. Actually, two new souls at once, if you count English and French. He is ready for more. Ready to meet brother and sisters from close and distant places that up to now sounded as if they weren't there. Latin America, anyone?
To have another language is to possess a second soul. - Charlemagne
All images are Copyright - CC BY-SA (Creative Commons Share Alike) by their respective owners, except for Petey, which is Public Domain (PD) or unless otherwise noted.
|Letter From The Editor - Linguist or Polyglot|
|The Phaistos Disc - Puzzle of Crete|
|Otto Jespersen - Progress of Language|
|At the Cinema - Kukushka - The Cuckoo|
|Celebrations - Carnival|
|Languages in Peril - The Salish Tragedy|
|Word on the Streets - Kannada Writers|
|Where Are You?|
|Revisited - Stories In The Names Of Places|
|Language Learning Methods - Software|
|Sections - Parleremo YouTube|
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Letter From The Editor - No Politics • Make Your Own Language Group • A History of Research in Study Abroad • Parrot Time on Patreon • Languages in Peril - Sayonara, Ainu • At the Cinema - La Coppia dei Campioni • Where Are You? • Book Look - The Bible of the Language Learners and Polyglots • Basic Guide to Romanian • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - Hope and Failing • Six Ways To Choose Which Languages To Learn • Learning Spanish - The trials, the tribulations and one triumphant learning hack • At the Cinema - The Last King (Birkebeinerne) • Celebrations - Birkebeinerrennet • Where Are You? • Book Look - Langenscheidt Dictionaries • Basic Guide to Swedish • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - Culture and Language, Again • Learning A Language Is Learning Its Culture • Revisited - Early Bardic Literature in Ireland • Languages in Peril - Save Medan Hokkien! • In Others' Words - Ulrike and Peter Rettig • At the Cinema - Monster Hunt • Where Are You? • Book Look - Language Alter Ego • Basic Guide to Italian • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - A Kind Word • Language and Power: The Hidden Struggle • 4 Ways To Learn Through Reading • Language Learning is for everyone! • Languages in Peril - The Decline of Sicilian • At the Cinema - The Host • Where Are You? • Book Look - Italian Short Stories for Beginners • Basic Guide to Hungarian • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - Making it Happen • Motivation - Expressing oneself and the expression of oneself in language learning • Motivation Killers in Learning a Language • Mixing Languages and Relationships • In Others' Words - Brian Powers • At the Cinema - Cutting Room Floor • Languages in Peril - Cyprus' Language Revival Approach Problem • Where Are You? • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - The Importance of Travel • Broadening The Mind Travels The World • The Secret Life of Diacritics • There Are No Wrong And Right Gestures, Only Cultural Differences • Google Translate Exposed: - The Truth Behind Everyone's Favorite Translator • At the Cinema - Queen • Book Look - The A to Z of Learning German • Where Are You? • Basic Guide to Papiamentu • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - Free Things • The Cost of Free Language Resources • Review of Polyglot Workshops: Brazil • Easier Way to Learn Languages Fast • Dream, decide, do - tips from a polyglot • At the Cinema - Cambio de Ruta • Languages in Peril - Talysh • Where Are You? • App Rev - Tandem • Book Look - Language Master Key • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - Studying in Summer • Polyglot Events All Around The World - You Are Not Alone • Playing Games with Language • Spanish E-training – The 'Big Bang' Investment • Can a Language Die? • At the Cinema - La Casa del Fin de los Tiempos • Languages in Peril - Scottish Gaelic • Words in Your Mouth - Apple • Celebrations - Nag Panchami • Where Are You? • Book Look - Fluency Made Achievable: The Fluent Guide to Core Language Skills • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - Sounds Like • How Do You Say It? - A look at sound notation systems • Of Pidgins and Creoles - A look at how some languages are born • Who Are You To Learn A Language? • At the Cinema - Dil Chahta Hai • Languages in Peril - Yumans on the Edge • Words in Your Mouth - Egg • Where Are You? • Book Look
Letter From The Editor - Breaking with Tradition • Are You Wasting Your Money on Language Classes? • Chatting in Languages Online - Part 2: Voice Chats • Why English Is Different Than Any Other Language • The Digital Language Collective • At the Cinema - Viva La Libertà • Languages in Peril - The Tribes of the Tamil-Kannada • Words in Your Mouth - Rice • Where Are You? • Book Look
Letter From The Editor - Thirteen • Chatting in Languages Online - Part 1: Text Chats • Why Do People Learn Languages? • The Question Of Practice - An International Language Is Possible • At the Cinema - Chinese Puzzle • Celebrations - Fastelavn • Words in Your Mouth - Cheese • Where Are You? • Book Look
Letter From The Editor - Over Time • Which Language Is...? • The Ultimate Fate of Language Learning • 5 Funny Words In Afrikaans From My Perspective • At the Cinema - Everybody's Famous! • Word on the Streets - Why Writers are Important • Words in Your Mouth - Milk • Where Are You? • Book Look
Letter From The Editor - World Ambassadors • Coming Home to Faroese - The Why and How of Learning a Small Language • Danish and Faroese: A Biography • At the Cinema - Ludo • Basic Guide to Faroese • Celebrations - The Faroese Festival Summer • Revisted - The Faroe Islands • Word on the Streets - Famous Faroe Islanders • Where Are You? • The Grind: Why the Faroese Hunt Whales • The Legend of the Scottish Princess • Faroese Ballads - Nornagest Ríma and Ormurin Langi
Letter From The Editor - Expansion • Religion in Culture • Languages in Peril - Decline of the Gallo-Italics • Language Learning and Translation • Word on the Streets - Italian Greats • Book Look • At the Cinema - Xingu • Celebrations - Hangul Day • Where Are You? • Words in Your Mouth - Bread
Letter From The Editor - Tracing Words • Constructed Languages - Making It All Up • Language Conflicts - Flemish vs. Walloon • Rohonc Codex - Hungarian Enigma • At the Cinema - Il Comandante e la Cicogna - Garibaldi's Lovers • Where Are You? • Words in Your Mouth - Sausage • Book Look • GlobTech - Using Locale
Letter From The Editor - Globalization • Speaking with Aliens • Celebrations - Esala Perahera - The Festival of the Tooth • Language Conflicts - Bokmål vs. Nynorsk • At the Cinema - Pane e Tulipani - Bread and Tulips • Revisited - Words Which Have Changed Their Meaning • Languages in Peril - Keeping Up With The Kartvelians • Where Are You? • Sections - Reviews • Word on the Streets - Indonesian Innovators • GlobTech - Google Translate Section
Letter From The Editor - The Highlander Condition • When Languages Meet • At the Cinema - Mal Día Para Pescar - Bad Day to Go Fishing • Celebrations - Tanabata - The Star Festival • Languages in Peril - The Romanian Relatives • Revisited - Words Made By Great Writers • Where Are You? • Language Learning Methods - Immersion • Sections - Links
Letter From The Editor - Price of Fame • Liber Linteus - Mummified Language • Pencak Silat • At the Cinema - Bombay • Celebrations - Inti Raymi - Festival of the Sun • Cracking the Code • Languages in Peril - The Chibchan Family • Revisited - Words From The Names Of Animals • Word on the Streets - Great German Authors • Where Are You? • Language Learning Methods - Internet • Sections - Neighborhood
Letter From The Editor - Why Polynesian? • Rongorongo - Island Chants • Otto Dempwolff - Islands of Language • At the Cinema - Whale Rider • Celebrations - Pasifika Festival • Special Feature - Avoiuli • Languages in Peril - The Island Invasion • Revisited - Legends of Maui - Maui's Home • Word on the Streets - Malay Masters • Where Are You? • Revisited - Legends of Maui - Maui Snaring the Sun
Letter From The Editor - Linguist or Polyglot • The Phaistos Disc - Puzzle of Crete • Otto Jespersen - Progress of Language • At the Cinema - Kukushka - The Cuckoo • Celebrations - Carnival • Languages in Peril - The Salish Tragedy • Word on the Streets - Kannada Writers • Where Are You? • Revisited - Stories In The Names Of Places • New Souls • Language Learning Methods - Software • Sections - Parleremo YouTube
Letter From The Editor - Freaking Out • The Voynich Script - Cryptic Codex • Benjamin Whorf - Relativity of Language • At the Cinema - Lost in Translation • Languages in Peril - The Polish Connection • Word on the Streets - Romanian Poets • Where Are You? • Celebrations - Holi • A Language Dream • Revisited - Words From National Character • Language Learning Methods - Classes • Sections - Language Exchange
Letter From The Editor - Truth in Advertising • Linear A & Linear B - Lost Minoan • Edward Sapir - Patterns of Language • At the Cinema - Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner • Word on the Streets - Norwegian Notables • Where Are You? • Celebrations - Valentine's Day • Languages in Peril - The Rhaeto-Romance Trio • Revisited - Proverbs • Linguistics Love Song • Language Learning Methods - Books • Sections - Recordings
Letter From The Editor - A New Parrot Time • The Rosetta Stone - Triple Cypher • Ferdinand de Saussure - Signs of Language • At the Cinema - L'auberge Espagnole • Languages in Peril - The Finno-Ugrics • Word on the Streets - The Russian Zone • Where Are You? • Celebrations - Day of the Dead • Revisited - Slang • We Are The Linguists • Language Learning Methods - Audio • Sections - Journals
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