Student or Learner
I just want to know something about listening. Is it true that hearing English, not listening, can improve one's English? I've just heard that if one hears English without giving attention to waht he is hearing, his mind will acquire English subconsciously. For example, while driving, walking, running...etc to what extent do you agree with such a claim?
You will become familiar with the sounds, the rhythms, the patterns, etc of spoken English, but I doubt that it will make you absorb as much as that.
However, it certainly won't harm you to hear spoken English, even without paying much attention.
We listen to languages in many different ways- having language on in the background and not concentrating is one of many ways to help.
There's a story told by the famous Chinese philosopher Mencius (孟子), about the importance of learning environment. A lord of the country Chu wanted his son to learn the language of the counrty Qi. So, he hired a true Qi scholar to teach his son. But despite the teacher's hard effort, the people around them still talked and annoyed them with the Chu language. Mencius said that even if you gave the boy heavy punishment, he still wouldn't learn the language Qi very well. And vice versa, if you send the boy to a village in Qi, and forced him to speak only Chu, he still won't speak Chu well. Instead, he will speak fluent Qi.
So I guess concentrating on your studies may be important, but trying to construct an environment beneficial for learning English is also important. If you have the language flowing in your ears all the time, you would definitely get used to it. Good luck and have fun learning!
Wiki link about Mencius:
Mencius - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In my experience, the sound of a language playing in the background is very helpful.
I am currently in the early stages of learning Portuguese, and I keep my car radio tuned to the Portuguese station. Sometimes I am too busy with driving tasks to pay attention, and even when I listen hard, usually I understand little. But nevertheless, occasionally a phrase becomes clear to my ear and I learn something. This seems to occur whether I am consciously trying to listen or not.
Secondly, Portuguese like English has various accents, while my teacher uses only one accent. Listening to the radio has helped me to begin distinguishing among accents.
Like a quite a few people said, the sounds of the language will become familiar. Also, like Probus said, you'll probably be able to work out very commonly used words and expressions though it'll take a long time to work out the meaning to most of the sounds, as you won't have any clues to the meanings.
I think it'll definitely help though. Especially, if you combine it with learning that helps you get the meaning of the sounds. Like Probus, I'm in the early stages of learning a new language. I'm learning Dutch and most of my learning has come from the TV. It's not the same as having sound in the background, as you can see what's going on. I watch mainly children's programmes - which are quite easy to understand (especially for English speakers; Dutch is just about the closest language to English).
You can always give it a go. Try for a month and see what you think at the end of it.