E-book Effortless English learn to speak English like a native. Chapter 11: The Third Rule: Learn With Your Ears, Not With Your Eyes

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E-book Effortless English learn to speak English like a native. Chapter 11: The Third Rule: Learn With Your Ears, Not With Your Eyes

Post by Admin on Fri Mar 31, 2017 5:07 pm

Chapter 11: The Third Rule: Learn With Your Ears, Not With Your Eyes »

The Third Rule: Learn With Your Ears,
Not With Your Eyes
My third rule for learning to speak English is simple, yet powerful. In fact, I usually say this is the
most important rule because this is how we all learn language as children. It's such an easy thing to
do that you have to wonder why most English classes don't emphasize it more.
Here it is: Learn with your ears, not with your eyes. That's right. If you want to speak excellent
English, you have to listen. Listening, listening and more listening is the key to speaking excellent
English. If you listen a lot, you are going to learn vocabulary. You will learn grammar. You will get
faster at speaking and you will understand what people are saying to you You will do all of this in a
more natural and enjoyable manner. You will imitate the process that babies and small children use to
learn a language.
Academic research on language learning has consistently found listening to be the biggest factor in
overall language ability – particularly in the early stages. In fact, this is true even if you don't
understand most of what you're hearing. That's because our ability to learn new words is directly
related to how often we have heard combinations of the sounds that make up those words, says Dr.
Paul Sulzberger, a researcher at Victoria University in New Zealand who conducted a 2009 study on
the subject. “‘Neural tissue required to learn and understand a new language will develop
automatically from simple exposure to the language,” Dr. Sulzberger said. “This is how babies learn
their first language.”
Remember the process used by babies and children? Babies learn through listening They don't
study grammar rules. They don't use textbooks. They don't take tests. Yet small children master
spoken English, including grammar. In fact, experts say, 80 percent of your time studying English
should be spent listening, even after you're no longer a beginner. Unfortunately, most traditional
language classes don't emphasize listening. So if you studied English in school, you probably learned
mostly with your eyes. I have observed many English classes in many different countries, and they're
all the same. Most English teachers – whether in middle school, high school, university or private
school – focus on textbooks in the classroom. There may be short “communication exercises,” but the
entire class is defined and driven by a textbook
Now, if your goal is to get a degree in English from a university, this is a great way to study. But if
you want to speak real English, these kinds of traditional methods won't get you there. Why? Because
even if you study for many years, you've basically learned English analytically. You learned to think
about English, talk about English and translate English. You also may know a lot about grammar
rules. In fact, you know more about grammar rules than most Americans, most Canadians, most
British people because native speakers don't study that stuff very much.
English conversation is different.
Native speakers learned to speak English with their ears by listening, listening, listening, and that's
what you must do if you want to speak English quickly, automatically and naturally just like a native
The most important factor for learning English is what Dr. Stephen Krashen calls “comprehensible
input” In other words, understandable input. Input refers to what is coming into your brain. You get
English input in two ways: through listening and through reading. Certain kinds of reading are very
useful and beneficial. However, the most powerful kind of input for learning to speak is listening.
Comprehensible (understandable) input methods have been shown to be more effective than
traditional methods (grammar study, drills, exercises, speaking practice). The research shows that
speech happens as a result of listening.
Think of babies and children again. Listening is always the first step. No child starts talking before
they understand through listening They always listen for a long time, until they understand a lot of the
language. Then, and only then, do they begin to speak. This listening “silent period” is vitally
important to the process of natural language learning.
Another property of natural language learning is that speech emerges naturally from listening.
Speech is not a skill that is consciously practiced or taught. Rather, after enough understandable
listening, a child will just suddenly begin to speak. Its seems to happen by magic. The speaking
ability grows out of the listening ability.
Researcher James Crawford has found that speaking English is the result of listening and that
English fluency frequently occurs from listening alone. He states that English learning is an
unconscious process, and while it's happening we are often not aware that it is happening
You can think of this like a seed in the ground. The seed, the potential for speaking, is always there.
However, the seed needs water in order to grow and emerge from the ground. Likewise, our brains
need a lot of understandable listening for effortless speech to emerge.
As you might imagine, because children spend so much time listening before they speak, their
listening ability is always higher than their speaking ability. In other words, children always
understand more English than they can actually use in speech. As you use the Effortless English™
system you will experience the same thing. Your listening ability will naturally grow faster than your
speaking ability. Some learners worry about this but it is the natural and correct process.
Another way to think of this is that listening leads speaking and pulls it along Listening is like a
balloon with a string tied to speaking. As the listening level rises, it pulls the speaking ability up with
it. They go up together, but the listening ability will always be higher.
I hear this a lot from students who don't understand why they have great comprehension of
written English, but can't speak it well. One reason is because English conversation is quite
different from English reading. Conversation uses a different type of English, including different
English conversational vocabulary is much more casual. In English, this means we use more
words of Saxon or Old English origin during conversation. We also use more phrasal verbs (twoor
three-word phrases with either a verb and an adverb or a verb and a proposition, such as get
away, calm down or cheer someone up)
The difference between conversation and more formal English is one reason that even
“advanced” students have difficulty with everyday conversations. The problem is that students learn
more formal English in school. Formal English tends to use more words of French and Latin origin.
This kind of English is, in fact, much easier for students who speak Romance languages such as
Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, or French. These students often do quite well when reading English,
but have a lot of trouble understanding normal speech.
So, if you want to communicate with native speakers, it's very important to learn from English
conversation and audios – not just textbooks and reading.
Learn English Conversation
This is why listening is so important. Listening provides the foundation for speaking. As your
listening ability improves, it will pull your speaking ability up, too. Too many learners are focused
solely on speaking and they neglect listening However, what use is speaking if you can't understand
the other person?
Another reason listening is important is because the dynamics of spoken English are completely
different from those of the written language. For starters, the grammar is different since we rarely
speak in complete sentences. The vocabulary is also different with a lot more idioms and slang being
used in speech. (See box.)
And most importantly, the speed is different. Speech is fast. Super fast. So fast that you have no
time to think about translations, or grammar rules, or textbook lessons or pronunciation. There is no
time. Your conscious brain simply cannot analyze, translate, and organize real speech This is the
reason your speech is so slow. This is the reason you can't understand two native speakers talking to
each other.
In fact, in order to perform at real speaking speeds, you must turn off your conscious brain and let
your subconscious do its job. To do that, you must use methods which awaken your subconscious.
You must learn holistically, intuitively, and naturally.
Primarily, this means listening to lots of understandable English speech… and doing it repeatedly.
As you listen, you quiet your conscious mind and just allow your brain to understand the whole
meaning of the words. You don't try to pick out individual words. You don't worry about the few
words you don't understand. You relax and you let the meaning wash over you Your mind is open
and quiet. And then, when you speak, you just let the words come out. You don 't struggle. You don't
analyze. You don't think about rules. You don't worry about mistakes. You don 't think about
translations. You just let the words pour out of your mouth effortlessly. This is what my students have
learned to do. It takes time, but as you focus on listening and learning English effortlessly, your
fluency, confidence and correctness will grow
Less Stress
There's another benefit to spending a lot of time listening to English – it reduces the anxiety people
often feel when speaking a new language. Many English classes push new students to speak right
away, but this is an unnatural approach.
In fact, being required to speak too soon can slow down language learning. Your brain hasn't had
enough time to process the new words and store them in your memory. So while you may be able to
repeat familiar phrases in English, you still won't understand what people are saying to you. This is
an unnatural and stressful situation.
In one study of beginning-level English students, researchers found that those who weren't forced
to speak but were trained in listening comprehension did better than students taught using
conventional methods. In addition, delaying speech also had a positive effect on students' overall
attitudes about English, and kept the classroom free of anxiety.
Dr. J Marvin Brown took this idea even further. The director of a Thai language program for
foreigners, Dr. Brown created a program that mimics the silent period of babies and small children.
In his AUA Thai program, students listen to understandable Thai every day but they do not speak for
six months or more. The students focus completely on learning with their ears.
For many foreigners, Thai is a difficult language to pronounce. Dr. Brown found that the silent
period had a strong positive affect on learners' pronunciation, eventually producing superior
pronunciation much closer to that of a Thai native speaker.
The same principle works with English. Though a silent period is not necessary for most
intermediate learners, you still might try it Why not focus completely on English listening for a few
months, and then return to English speaking? You'll likely find that your speaking has improved even
though you never practiced it.
What Should You Listen To?
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you must listen to easy English. It has to be easy for
you. That means you should understand 95% or more of what is being said. That's without stopping
the audio and without a dictionary. So it should be quite easy. I say this because the natural desire of
most students is to pick something harder, thinking it will help them. It sounds more impressive to say
I'm listening to CNN rather than a children's program. If you choose something too difficult, you can
get frustrated. With something easy, you get confidence
Remember Dr. Krashen's idea of understandable input. If you don't understand, you are not
learning. No understanding means no improvement. Easier listening is almost always better than
difficult. Eventually, you will be ready for more difficult material, but take your time and listen to
plenty of easy English.
If you're just starting out, try listening to children's programs since the English tends to be simpler.
You can buy audio books online as a download, and get the audio book immediately so you can get
If you find yourself listening to something more difficult, you can still use it, but you usually need
the text. You can get an audio article or a speech, and use the text so you can read and listen at the same time For more advanced learners, another great source of casual English conversation is film.
Listen to American and English movies and read the subtitles. This will also help you. Just remember,
listening is the most important thing. To get the most from films, use the movie technique below.
If you don't have an audio player or smart phone, get one. It will enable you to listen to English
conveniently whenever you can. Listen in the morning when you get up. Listen when you go to work,
or when you are at home. Listen when you are at lunch Listen when you are coming home from work.
Listen in the evening – lots and lots and lots of English listening, lots of easy listening. I even have a
free Effortless English™ podcast on iTunes and you can listen to that. Listen, Listen, Listen.
Rule Three is the reason that all of my courses are based on audio. Effortless English™ is a
listening system where most learning is done through the ears. It's okay to use text to help
understanding, but focus most of your time and efforts on learning with audios.
No matter how you choose to do it, it's important to listen to English as much as you can. Some of
my students have been reluctant at first. But most of them say that getting to choose what they listen to
starts to make it enjoyable Instead of suffering through yet another boring textbook drill, you can
relax and listen to something that is interesting to you.
Looking for another great way to practice listening to English? Perhaps you might want to follow
my weekly Effortless English™ Show. I do a talk show about mastering spoken English. This show
is a great way to get easy English listening. As most Effortless English™ members know, easy and
relaxed English listening is an important key to speaking English fluently.
To speak English fluently, you must listen to a lot of English – preferably easy and
understandable English. My show is one way to get plenty of English audio. These are a great
supplement to other English lessons or materials.
It's very easy to get my show! Just “Follow” me on Twitter. Go to Twittercom/ajhoge. If you
don't have an account, create one. Then go to my page and click “Follow.” That's all! It's super
Each week, check my Twitter page for “tweets” about the next Effortless English™ Show. Click
on the link in each tweet to watch the video and download the audio.
If you prefer, you can search for the “Effortless English™ Podcast” on iTunes, where I put all of
the audio recordings of the show.
The video recordings of past shows are also available on my YouTube channel, which is another
source of learning suggestions and English audio.
Subscribe to my YouTube channel at: Youtube.com/ajhoge
Listening Practice
To help students improve their listening, I often suggest an exercise known as the “Movie Technique”
To do this, you need to pick an English-language movie that you enjoy. Again, pick a fairly easy one,
where you will understand most of the words used.
Begin by watching the first scene. This should take about 3 to 5 minutes. Turn on the English
subtitles. As you go through it, pause if there is a something you don't understand. Look up the
meaning of the word or phrase in an idiomatic dictionary. Watch the scene until you know all the
words of it and understand.
The next day, watch the same scene again, several times. Once you understand the vocabulary, turn
off the subtitles Then watch the scene again, listening without the subtitles. Do this every day for the
next five days or so. You might spend four or five days on one scene, but that 's okay. Each repetition
improves your English listening ability.
Now watch the scene again, but try pausing after each sentence or phrase. Repeat the sentence out
loud. In fact, don't just repeat the sentence, act out the scene. Copy the speech of the actors. Copy
their movements, facial expressions, and emotions. Pretend you are the characters in the scene
Remember the movie pronunciation exercise? This is another version of it.
This entire movie technique might take you a whole week for just one scene. When you feel you
have mastered the scene, you can start the entire process again with the next scene. It might take
several months to get through one movie, to really learn it, but that's the point. The movie technique is
a way to thoroughly learn and master all of the English used in a film. This method will improve your
listening, your fluency, and your pronunciation. If you just watch a movie once, without using this
process, you get little to no benefit from it.
I get this question a lot. Personally, I don't suggest learning English through music. I get students
coming to me with lyrics, and I can't understand half the words the singer is saying Music is an art
form with lots of imagery in the language. Even native speakers often don't know what the singer is
trying to say. Likewise, the pronunciation used in songs is not normal. Singers frequently change the
natural pronunciation in order to fit the words into the melody of the music. In terms of learning
English, it's much more efficient to use television or movies. The meaning of what people are
saying is usually clearer, and you also have video to provide visual cues that help you understand.
So yes, please listen to English language music if you like how it sounds, but don't expect it to help
your own communication in English


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