listening practice

This was a solid, if unextraordinary week for my Luganda studies. I was able to reach my goal of 80 points, due to putting in a good chunk of time every day this week, and then spending a long time working on some lesson work today.

One of the things I am most excited about this week is a new idea and use of technology that Simon spontaneously came up with. Usually, Simon will send me readings, grammar activities, or writing prompts via email or Whatsapp. On Monday, I received a set of Whatsapp voice messages from him instead. On the first message, he recorded himself reading a short story. On the second, he asked me a set of comprehension and interpretive questions about the story. Both recordings force me to practice my listening skills, and I'm excited because this is exactly the kind of new tool that I need.

As you all know, I've been doing a lot of listening to talk radio, videos, etc. And certainly, that listening practice helps. However, this new method seems likely to be even more effective for a couple reasons. First, Simon is reading the story at a normal pace. Not super fast, like the news stories I often listen to, but not slow either. It seems like the normal pace that one would read a book aloud. It's challenging but not impossible for me to hear what's going on at this speed! Secondly, following the story up with questions at the end is a great way to test comprehension without checking a translation. If I correctly answer, Simon knows that I have understood the passage well enough; it probably isn't necessary to do a word by word translation. I like this because it gets at some of the broader communicative goals that I have in Luganda. It can be easy to get worried about complete comprehension when effective communication will do (for my purposes, at least!). Finally, this method does also allow me to check a word by word translation insofar as that is helpful to me.

This activity recreates something that Simon and I did over the summer. He would record a story on an old-school tape recorder and I would bring home and translate it. I'd been wondering if we could find a way to do this at a distance, and I'm so happy we figured out such an easy system. I'm not sure why I hadn't thought of the voice messages before, but I'm glad Simon figured it out!

Here are my week's activities:
Monday: Lesson with Simon, texting with a friend
Tuesday: Create explanatory webpage for Luganda website
Wednesday: Lesson with Simon & Kevin
Thursday: 15 minutes of deep listening, 30 minutes of background listening, extensive texting, 50 Quizlet words
Friday: 20 minutes deep listening, preparation for class presentation
Saturday: Watch 2 news videos, 30 minutes radio, extensive texting
Sunday: 2.5 hours lesson work

Looking this over, I notice I did not put a lot of effort into my vocabulary practice. I'll want to make sure that is a priority this coming week! I am also curious to see how I did in the listening exercise when I go over it with Simon tomorrow. I'm really looking forward to seeing how this new listening practice strengthens my skills!


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