Building Intuition and Listening Skills in a Foreign Language with Transcription

my electronic dictionary and friends

For the purposes of this post, I will define transcription simply as the act of writing down text given the audio. I’ve been doing it for a while now and I think there are several advantages to incorporating transcription into your study regimen.

Improves Listening Skills

As the post title suggests, transcription is very good for practicing your listening skills, which in turn will help solidify your vocabulary. You either understand what is being said and write it down correctly, or you don’t. But wait, what if you really don’t understand?

Develops Intuition in your Foreign Language

When you hear a word you can’t recognize, what do you do? Research.  The reason this exercise develops intuition is because you figure out the word on your own. It’s all for that “lightbulb” moment, that moment that only comes after repeated listening and dictionary look-ups. The accumulation of these moments results in a deeper, more intuitive understanding of the language. It is time-consuming, but I personally enjoy it.

Other Benefits

I’ve written about transcription before. That post also contained a sample of how I use transcriptions in my language study.

Other Thoughts

A very wise commenter suggested putting transcriptions on lang-8 to get them corrected. I think this is a wonderful idea, especially for beginners or people new to transcriptions.

I am partial to non-verbatim transcription when studying. There’s no point in having a bunch of umms and pauses in a transcription when you’re using it the way I do. To me, the point of the exercise is to plug up holes in your knowledge by attaining complete comprehension of what you’re hearing. In that sense, I highly recommend this exercise for learners who are at least level 50 according to Japanese Level Up’s Level Guide.



Author: Koyami

I'm Koyami. I am a freelance Japanese-English Translator and I enjoy learning new skills and reading in my spare time. Current pursuits include learning Mandarin Chinese, getting familiar with Blender, and collecting all of the 十二国記 books. Follow me on Twitter and Google+ for blog updates, my Japanese word of the day, and more!