I am in a tiny village in France for a big family reunion - relatives meeting from as far as Alaska and as close as the surrounding European countries. Most of us are at least bilingual and the mix of languages and cultures is for us as normal as it is exciting - we ourselves marvel at the wonder of it despite being used to it!!
We don't see each other so often and the children grow so I approach a y oung boy handing bh out pamphlets and
"OK," I reply in English, "What's your name?"
"I don't speak French!" he says very quickly.
I continue in English, "Yes, but what's your name?"
"I don't speak French!" he replies desperately.
I decide to change question in English, "Where are you from?"
"Seattle!" he replies.
"Oh, so you must be...." - I finally got a break through - he had realised I was speaking English to him.
This is the typical situation of a MIND BLOCK - he was in such panic that he couldn't understand what I was saying despite speaking to him in his native language.
Many language students experience this and if in a listening exercise they don't understand the third word of a sentence they close their mind and can't understand the rest of the sentence.
On the other hand if they don't understand the word towards the end of a sentence they have understood enough to make a good guess of what the unknown word could mean.
Guessing the meaning of unknown words is fundamental because one can't look up every word in a dictionary in mid-conversation.
But if a student experiences a MIND BLOCK he
Don't think so much! Let your mind wander...
My personal experience:
Whilst teaching myself Spanish with audio-cassettes many years ago, despite repeatedly listening to a sentence with great concentration that I found impossible to understand, I could in no way decipher it. I was driving while listening and decided to carry on listening to the tape ignoring that particular sentence. I played that cassette continuously for about three weeks and very often my mind wandered to things I needed to do but obviously my sub-conscience was paying attention because all of a sudden a little light went on in my brain and I stopped the cassette - I had suddenly understood that sentence! I went back and forth on the tape - it was true! I really understood it! I had given my brain repetition, time to 'digest' and elaborate and it had been free to absorb the language so that suddenly I understood.
So DON'T FIX YOUR MIND ON WHAT YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND!
CONCENTRATE on what you DO UNDERSTAND, then
OPEN YOUR MIND to any new sounds
and leave your brain our time to do the rest!!
Give your brain a chance! It really works!
Update: Try out my
LISTENING COMPREHENSION with Susan’s A WEARY TRAVELLER'S TALES on my YouTube Channel:
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My name is Susan Brodar, born in London into a multilingual family and brought up bilingual English / Italian.