Listening is the key
A researcher in New Zealand has found evidence that extensive listening to a foreign language makes a big difference to your ability to learn and understand the language, according to this article.
It doesn’t matter that if you don’t understand anything at first – your brain will automatically make the necessary neural connections it needs to process the unfamiliar sounds and combinations of sounds, just as it does when you’re acquire your native language. Without such connections it is very hard to remember new words. The more you listen to the language, the easier it becomes to learn new words and to understand the language.
This is something I’ve long suspected, and I use this technique in my own language learning. For example, when my first attempt to learn Welsh about 10 years ago wasn’t very successful. I worked my way through Teach Yourself Welsh a couple of times listening to the lessons and reading the notes. At that time I didn’t have any opportunities to hear or speak Welsh, and soon forgot most of what I’d learned. A few years later I started listening to Radio Cymru regularly, and when I had another go at learning the language I made much more progress.