In his detailed video on shadowing, Dr. Arguelles uses an Assimil course as his example. He says that at a certain point in one’s studies, using his shadowing technique, one will find that they have a global understanding of what’s being said – an understanding of each sentence as a whole, but not necessarily what each individual part of that sentence is doing.
While I didn’t shadow Assimil’s French with Ease very much, I find the idea of global understanding, as opposed to understanding each individual word, intriguing. Why? Because after hearing him talk about it, I realized that that’s where I was at when I finished working with Assimil’s French with Ease, and it’s where I’m now with Russisch ohne Mühe. In the more advanced lessons, I could get the gist of what was meant, but if I were to try and say something similar, I wouldn’t be able to, because I wouldn’t know what each part of the sentence was doing. This could go so far as I would know what a noun meant in the sentence, but if you gave me the English equivalent, I wouldn’t be able to give the French or Russian word – even though I’d be famiilar with it in the context of a sentence.
Dr. Arguelles says that once you’re at that point, it’s time to analyze the L2 and L1 side by side, and I’ve started to more or less follow that advice. As a test, I took a lesson from Russisch ohne Mühe which I could get the gist of, but there were many words in it which, if I saw alone, I wouldn’t understand. I learned all of the words using the word list method, and then I broke the lesson down grammatically, checking declensions and conjugations. As to be expected (at least, it’s what I expected), when I listened to the lesson again, my understanding of it was drastically increased. And, I could say what every single word was doing, and felt that I could say something similar if I wanted to.
Through this, I learned that for me at least, Assimil’s passive way is simply too passive. I can reread the lessons over and over; I can listen to the recordings over and over. I have no idea how many times I listened to French with Ease, in full, but it was a lot. But I simply don’t learn enough of the words and phrases as stand-alone entities that way. To get the most from the courses, I have to understand globally, and I have to understand at the word level. I suppose you could say it’s an issue of macro vs. micro. Interestingly, I think this implies that I’m one of those strange creatures who actually benefits from taking words out of context to learn them, and then putting them back in.
Has anyone else experienced this, or are you all able to pick up all of the words in a course like Assimil simply by reading and listening to the lessons again and again?