Language is not a genetic gift, it is a social gift. Learning a new language is becoming a member of the club- the community of speakers of that language - Frank Smith

When you are learning a new language which is as complex as the Japanese language, your victory in conquering it will depend on how strong or weak your chain of skills are. If either of your reading or speaking or comprehension skills are weak, then your overall Japanese language skills will suffer. This is why there is so much stress to improve Japanese listening skills. Japanese listening practice can boost your confidence immensely and give you a sense of control when you're speaking the language in any situation.

If you practice Japanese listening, you build a knack for reading the situation well before responding inappropriately.

When you practice Japanese language listening, you will be able to understand your favorite Japanese movies or music much better and enjoy it a lot more.

Those who want to learn the Japanese language must take each listening lesson very seriously. In fact, for students who take the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test), the Japanese listening practice is the most difficult segment to crack. And the reason for this could be the fact that these students only converse and listen to the language within the classroom or during an online lesson. The moment they are outside, it is back to their native language.

Put simply, to improve Japanese listening you have to put extra efforts. Especially if you are studying the language outside Japan. You have to find ways to immerse yourself in the language and take the learning outside the confines of a classroom.

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5 Great Ways to Improve Japanese Listening

Podcast learning
Podcasts are a great way to practice Japanese listening | Image source: Freepik

1. Go Digital

Learning a new language has never been easier. You just need to do a Google search and look for online learning resources or a Japanese tutor near me. There are tons of online resources like video streaming apps, podcasts, or animations that can help you to practice Japanese listening. YouTube, for example, has a huge repository of audio books and podcasts to practice Japanese language.

2. Be Proactive

To improve Japanese listening, you can actively work on your listening abilities. Don't wait around for someone else to expedite your learning. Being proactive helps you pay attention to the minutest details and lets you break down each word that you hear. It doesn't matter what you're listening to as long as you have your learning orientation in place.

3. Tune into Real Japanese

Nothing can ever beat learning from the source. This means listening and understanding the Japanese language in real-world situations. The best case scenario would be to practice Japanese language with a native speaker in Japan. This implies that you have to have conversations and interactions with people in situations that are in line with the Japanese culture. If you are not in Japan, then you can always learn through online learning platforms like Superprof. Or find an exchange student in your country to practice Japanese listening.

4. Practice Targeted Learning

Try to create specific situations in your head while learning a new language. This helps contextualize what you're going to say. For example, when you want to improve Japanese listening, you can try to imagine your favorite Japanese food and what you will do to place an order for it at a restaurant in Japan. So, if you love sushi, imagine the scenario in your mind and choose the vocabulary and grammar to form your sentences while placing the order.

5. Leverage the Power of Repetition

Grilling things in your brain enhances the power of your memory. The more number of times you present certain things to your brain, it is conditioned to think of it as important. This enhances retention and helps you remember better. Scientifically what happens is that your brain moves the information from the short-term to the long-term memory chamber.

Useful Resources to Practice Japanese Listening

Listening is very important in theatre, as it is for many other professions.
Practice Japanese listening through a podcast or with the help of a Japanese tutor | Image Courtesy: Geralt

What listening comprehension basically means is your ability to take in information. Some of this information maybe tangible or that which you take in through the nose or vocal chords. And some of it maybe emotional or cognitive like in the case where you are building a perspective or trying to taking in new ideas or even trying to read between the lines. Now to improve Japanese listening, there are a few great resources that can help you:

  1. Phonetics: It is the ability to interpret accurately what you listen to. It is the fundamental principle on which listening comprehension is built. When you're learning Japanese language, you have to be able to recognize the sounds of しんかんせん as しんかんせん. Otherwise, what is the point of even listening or trying to comprehend? Vowels and consonants are important parts of phonetics, and the more important thing to learn is sentence construction.
  2. Vocabulary: When you learn to put phonemes together, you give birth to vocabulary. Japanese listening practice isn't just about to recognizing しんかんせん as しんかんせん but also being able to read and understand what it means. Vocabulary, however, is pretty straightforward and less complicated than phonetics.

As beginner in Japanese listening practice, you can start with NHK Easy news. It is a great resource to listen to the news in simpler fashion and improve Japanese listening. Similar to this is the News in Slow Japanese where the pronunciations are slow and clear, allowing the learner to take in each lesson piece. If you are looking for a more academic-like resource, go for the NHK Easy Japanese, which focuses on language pronunciation and grammar.

How to Practice Japanese Language Daily

Audio content is great for busy lifestyles.
Practice Japanese listening on the go.

You will often find students of the Japanese language who are learning the language outside Japan, are always more confident to write it than to read or speak the language. This is because such students are missing out on a critical aspect of learning- learning exchange. It is a basic necessity for learning a new language. It is only when you have cleared the basic level can you understand and grasp the more difficult aspects like reading a novel or manga, or writing a letter in Japanese. But having said that, it is also important to recognize the challenge of facilitating such exchanges or finding a language exchange partner.

Nevertheless, it is important to accept this challenge and scout for a language exchange partner to converse and practice Japanese listening daily. And this can be actually very rewarding. To be able to train the different parts of your brain for speech and oral comprehension is very different than training those parts that facilitate reading and writing. And you have to constantly focus on doing that. Consciously. Contrary to popular belief, this is not a natural process where you do nothing and it automatically improves.

Engaging in Japanese listening practice day after day will ensure that you are tapping on the very important change lever- your memory and power of retention. This process is sure to improve Japanese listening and help you become more fluent and sensitive in the language. After all, speaking is not the only parameter of gauging success in learning a new language.

Japanese Listening Practice with A Language Tutor

A Japanese language tutor can handhold you along your learning journey.

Be humble. Be teachable. And always keep learning - Anonymous

There are some common motivations and incentives for students and learners who look for Japanese tutor near me. They look for,

  • the best Japanese teachers.
  • focused and undivided attention.
  • brushing up and advancing on their Japanese language skills.
  • mastering the language for career progression.

To learn the Japanese language, you have to come in with a certain mindset since the expressions of the language are quite different from most others in the world. So, it is important to look for private tutors who are bilingual, so they understand the nuances of both cultures. Look for tutors who are ideally,

  • native Japanese speakers
  • have a deep understanding of the culture
  • language exchange partners

Look for tutors who offer structured lesson plans and customize it to your needs. Be it an online tutoring class or offline lesson, it should be tailored to your needs. So, the onus of making the learning experience more fruitful lies with the private tutor. The tutors need to offer bespoke mentoring and guidance to help you progress.

The lessons must be relevant to your learning goals. They must resonate with real-life situations where you will actually have to practice the language. And not just get stuck in theories. So, look for tutors who are practical and are close to the ground realities.

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Pragnajyoti

Doctor, dog lover, traveler..