13. The Importance of Listening: Comprehensible Input

This is a great talk from Chris Lonsdale about learning, and more specifically language learning. He states that any adult can learn a language fluently in 6 months (well, I suppose that depends on the time you dedicate to using it during those 6 months). I totally agree with his point that language is acquired through use and not learnt in a traditional way of memorizing large amounts of vocabulary or knowledge of grammar structures, like in maths or biology.  He stresses the importance of the physical aspects of learning and the psychological aspects that hinder learning, such as stress or anxiety. Languages are creative and you need to have fun with them, experiment them, live them. We also need to stress the importance of listening skills and its how we can learn a language almost effortlessly through listening as people absorb language just through experiencing it, being immersed in the language and acquiring meaning through this. It is called comprehensible input and is backed by over two decades of research. He hits this point directly and very eloquently. He uses real life examples to give it context, he makes language visual and stresses the importance of context in learning. It is well worth a watch. Well done Sir!

All language learners have had the sensation of ´wow, I didn´t realise I knew that word´, or of understanding language that we didn´t know that we knew. This is from what is known as comprehensible input. When we listen, we absorb language and it is deffinitely worth testing yourself and trying to listen to things just above our current level as it will force us to progress. Even if we do not understand everything, we will gradually improve. We need to give our students the opportunity to learn this way, we need to stress that it is not about talent or intelligence, it is about time. Comprehensive input is just the way that all language learners want to learn but it requires time and access to opportunities to practise a language. Set up an exchange/intercambio (look at other online communities links or events links on this site). Study abroad (links available on the site). Life is for living, it is the best way to really take the plunge and learn a language well. You never know where the new language might take you.

Suggested further reading:



Teaching Spanish with Comprehensible Input Through Storytelling. Teacher’s Book


7 thoughts on “13. The Importance of Listening: Comprehensible Input

  1. I agree. Often, language learners spend too much time studying and not enough time interacting with people or the language (as an art form). I am also guilty of that.

    Confidence is something that should be pushed as much as learning. However, that confidence is often developed as a direct consequence of interaction.

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