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Author Topic: Listening Skills and Learning Code  (Read 2222 times)
KE6EE
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« on: September 19, 2016, 11:11:57 AM »

I happened upon a Ted Talk on a local radio station yesterday. The talk was given by Julian Treasure whose interest is in how people listen and learn by listening. You can google him and Ted Talk to find out more.

Treasure's main points seem to me to be particularly relevant to those who have difficulty learning code and who post here describing their difficulties. His points are that we as a culture live in a very noisy environment these days. We are surrounded by noise, whether from noisy machines or from media which are constantly blaring loudly about something often quite irrelevant to our lives.

To learn by listening the learning experience requires focus. Treasure thinks that our auditory system really cannot process more than one stream of information at a time, or one series of messages.

When I was a youngster in the 1950s and got interested in radio and thus needed to learn code in order to get any kind of license, I did not, nor did any of several friends who also wanted to learn, have any doubt that learning was simple and straightforward. All of us learned code in a few weeks and took and passed our Novice and then our General tests with absolutely no sweat.

We now live in a culture in which multitasking is considered normal or even desirable. Treasure suggests, and I agree with him, that multitasking doesn't work when you need to learn something aurally.

'Nuff said.
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M0LEP
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« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2016, 03:33:16 PM »

To learn by listening the learning experience requires focus. Treasure thinks that our auditory system really cannot process more than one stream of information at a time, or one series of messages.

Sure. There's plenty of advice about finding some time and place without distractions in which to do your learning. I've never found things like having code in the background to help me at all. I either concentrate on the code, or I do something else, in which case the code is just more background noise to be ignored (or, better, turned off). If I'm trying to make sense of Morse then there's no room for multitasking; just the Morse, and the paper and writing implement neded to take the message down.

All of us learned code in a few weeks and took and passed our Novice and then our General tests with absolutely no sweat.

That, I suggest, is pretty much entirely down to how old you were at the time. It's quite possible (though not certain) that, had I set about learning Morse when I was that age, I'd have done likewise. I certainly learned about some of the things that interested me at that age just as easily as you describe. Some kids learn some things apparently effortlessly. Adults, not so much...

So, yeah, trying to learn in a multi-tasking environment probably isn't going to go so well, but there are other factors at work that may make it less easy to learn Morse, too.
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KE6EE
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« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2016, 05:55:37 PM »

That, I suggest, is pretty much entirely down to how old you were at the time. I certainly learned about some of the things that interested me at that age just as easily as you describe. Some kids learn some things apparently effortlessly. Adults, not so much...

So, yeah, trying to learn in a multi-tasking environment probably isn't going to go so well, but there are other factors at work that may make it less easy to learn Morse, too.

Yes, different people have varied learning abilities. Some adults learn rather effortlessly all their lives. Some kids are never able to learn easily.

My original post has to do with an aspect of learning that is probably universal and hopefully is useful for all people trying to learn something that requires good listening skills whether it is Morse Code, another language or a new piece of music.
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N3QE
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« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2016, 07:16:59 PM »

Although I first learned morse code in a quiet classroom run by the local club... I spent many hundreds hours on the novice 40M band with loud SW broadcast stations nearby with a receiver that was broader than a barn door. I got real good real quick at rejecting carriers and voice modes and listening just for the code.

I work hard on rejecting and ignoring the noise. If I was trying to follow both the morse and a voice conversation at same time I could see that resulting in failure :-)
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KE6EE
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« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2016, 07:49:04 AM »

I got real good real quick at rejecting carriers and voice modes and listening just for the code.

If I was trying to follow both the morse and a voice conversation at same time I could see that resulting in failure :-)

I think you are right on point. Learning a new skill using your hearing requires concentration and focus--you are learning something new and you want to remember the new information deeply for the long-term.

Later on, with Morse thoroughly learned, you can develop the skill to distinguish between competing sounds in order to understand the Morse.

Learning and using are two very different skills in this case.
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K8AXW
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« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2016, 09:44:30 AM »

What you are trying to learn determines how much "multi-tasking" can be done.  This certainly is a no-brainer statement!

When learning code it is important not to have ANY distractions.....rather it's TV, wife, kids or the annoying neighbor's dog barking.  In this day and age, this is in itself is a problem.

In most cases the more things the brain has to process, rather it's wanted or needed information is irrelevant.  The thought process is divided among everything coming in.

But back to code.  It takes focus to learn the code and then as we begin to use it on the air the least little thing, like a close-by signal will throw us off.  As our experience increases the brain will be able to focus on one signal mixed in with many.

This is probably the one thing that sets Morse intercept operators apart from others.  Experienced operators can focus on one signal, ignoring several others plus the talking and other distractions in the operations room.  Or for that matter, dig out and light a cigarette, drink coffee or a Coke while copying with one hand and still ignore distractions.

Train the brain to focus on one item exclusively is learned. 
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