Home Forums Tips, Hacks, & Ideas For Learning Japanese The Secret to Improving Your Listening

This topic contains 30 replies, has 25 voices, and was last updated by  JThaddeus 9 years, 11 months ago.

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    I used to watch an online news report thing from FNN every day, but whenever I had it on in the background while studying, it just made it 10x harder to concentrate. And when I had it on at other times, the constant sound was irritating XD I’ve no idea how Khatzumoto could have a TV on beside him all the time and not be driven crazy haha. I think I just prefer having a more chilled atmosphere, quiet and peaceful most of the time.



    Drayomi – Can you cite your sources for this? I’ve heard similar sentiments, and I say I do about 4-6 hours of passive listening most days. I also find that if I focus on what’s being said for any amount of time one of two things happen:

    * I get frustrated at my inability to understand.
    * I zone out, and stop actively listening.

    I want to believe what you suggest is true, but some sources would help.



    @JKline – What’s language shadowing?



    Essentially trying to mimic Japanese speakers. Pretend you are a Japanese person and speak how they would.



    I do think it is more effective if you try to pick listening material that fits the level you are currently at.

    As a beginner that’s only halfway season 2, I don’t think I will learn as much from listening to the news, as listening to japanese songs for children, for example.
    With learning/practicing in general, I personally prefer to use material that is just a tad bit higher than the level I’m currently at.

    Edit: To be clear, I agree that listening as often as possible is the best way to learn it. I just think you can be even more effective if you pick the right material for your current level. I learned English mostly by just reading it, watching it and listening to it a lot.

    • This reply was modified 11 years, 7 months ago by  Linus.


    I’m so excited to read this. I had the exact same thought and it’s nice to know that I was on the right track. I searched and searched for something in Japanese to listen to when I was going to sleep but it needed to be calm and pleasant. I finally found it here: http://jclab.wordpress.com/. It’s Japanese Classical Literature for Bedtime. Her voice is so soothing and some of the stories have a musical piece at the end (though there is always a version without music offered for each one). It’s been so perfect for me. I’m nowhere near understanding it yet but I can pick out words fairly often.



    @Angela – that looks really interesting – good find!



    I just wanted to jump in and thank Angela, too.



    Same here, thanks for sharing.



    Well, listening to natural speech is a key to learn any language, not just Japanese. Reading tons of material is another important aspect of learning a language.


    There is an app for mobile devices called “Tunein FM” that lets you listen to radio programs broadcast anywhere in the world.  Of course this eats up streaming data on your data plan, but if you’re in wifi range it’s no issue.  The timing is just right too, because normal work hours where I live are the middle of the night in Japan, so in the evening I can listen to morning talk shows.  Of course, being a beginner, I have no idea what they are saying!!!



    I know this topic is kinda old, but I wanted to ask: do You have any good sources for Android that can be downloaded? I don’t want to stream as this takes too much data, but I spend about an hour on the bus when going to work and I want to be able to listen something in Japanese. Any ideas?


    To me, I feel that it’s a person-to-person basis for which someone can say whether watching anime with subs is worthless or not. I believe it’s entirely subjective. Each person has their own learning style, attention span, multitasking ability, listening capability, and deductive/inductive reasoning skill set. I can say for myself that I think watching something with subtitles helps me to grasp the idea of speech pace, conversational interaction, and even grammatical structure. It helps me to identify what words come up most often, and usually at what timing they should appear. All in all it helps me to pick up social speech patterns. But this might not be the case for the next person who might be a “one thing at a time” learner (so they MUST watch anime in its raw form; anime sans subtitles). They might not be used to hearing a foreign language to begin with, and that’s always overwhelming (I’ve had previous foreign-language listening skills training when forced to learn Spanish throughout my life, so I already kind of know what to do with what I’m hearing). The main point is that if it works for you, wonderful! It’s an abundant resource that is fun to learn with. If not, that’s ok too! As long as you recognize when it’s time to move forward and not sit in a comfort zone forever, then you’ll do just fine either way.
    Just my two cents. ^^”

    Excalibuuuuur. Excalibuuuuur.


    Yeah I agree, listening is really good for picking up speech patterns. And especially when you’re just starting out, it gets you used to the actual sounds within the language. It’s also fun when you learn new words, and then you’re able to pick them out of an otherwise unintelligible conversation. It’s become part of my studying ‘ritual’ actually – after I do some work in TF or some heavy vocabery in Anki (I’ve invented a word just now) I like to watch a little bit of anime just to see if any of the words I’ve learned pop up. It’s a very different scenario hearing the word out of context than it is being able to identify it in a conversation. It’s a reasonably ok learning substitute for having an actual conversation. At least for me.

    In terms of watching things with subtitles, this is of course highly individual, but I don’t find it distracting or anything. That’s largely a result of musical training though – reading and listening at the same time isn’t hard for me, but that’s because of a LOT of practice, which anybody can do if they’ve got the time. It’s also interesting to note the way some fan subs translate things – as the most basic example I can think of, you’ll see things like a character saying “はい!” but then it’s translated as “you got it!” or something that generally conveys agreement but isn’t the word “yes”. And the more you learn in TF (or anywhere else) the more you can have fun exploring the differences between the direct translation of the spoken words and the fan sub translation which is meant to include contextual stuff.

    Ok I was about to hit submit but then I had another thought. Depending on the specific thing you’re watching (I feel drama would be really good for this) I find it gives you a pretty solid working example of honorifics in action. It helps to reinforce when you should use what. Again, good for newbs such as myself.

    I haz a blog http://maninjapanchannel.wordpress.com/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLQzB-1u-dg

    Righto! There are a slew of things you can be picked up from anime, and although anime is still slightly off from reality, it has taught me quite a bit thus far anyhow.
    You point out the different translations from a single word when involved in different scenarios, and I’ve definitely picked up on this as well. It just shows how flexible the language is, and also helps it to seems less intimidating. An example I can think of off the top of my head would be the use of “そうですね”/”そうか?”. I’ve heard it so many times that I’m pretty confident of when to use it, what inflection I should use, and even at what times I should shorten it to just “そう..”. I love that!
    You’re totally right about the honorifics as well. Someone just learning Japanese probably finds the idea of honorifics to be really strange, but someone who watches Japanese shows most likely thinks it quite natural after a while.

    Excalibuuuuur. Excalibuuuuur.
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