Listening Skills may be more important than you think!
Learning how words sound and practicing how to use them are both invaluable skills to develop, but people often forget that in addition to speaking, writing and reading we have to develop our listening skills in a foreign language as well. This is a common issue that all language learners face at some point or another.
The truth is, it’s actually a good problem to have because only students with a higher level of scale will experience it. When you know a lot of the language, but face trouble understanding native speakers, the problem is always with your listening skills. Mastering a language is a slow and gradual process. You have to be able to read, write, listen and speak in the language to become fluent at it.
Enhancing your listening skills has the unique ability to build your confidence – you’ll feel that you can tackle any situation without fear of being embarrassed by not understanding something.
In this blog, we will introduce to you some good ways to improve your Japanese listening skills.
1. Speak as much Japanese as possible -
Even though our blog focuses on improving your Japanese listening skills, you won’t get anywhere without improving its twin: Japanese speaking. Speaking Japanese can be done actively by seeking out and having conversations with native Japanese speakers or other learners.
2. Make the most of your memory with repetition -
One of the brain’s greatest assets for learning Japanese is its memory. Despite its complexity, you can effectively “hack” the brain’s memory mechanism to maximize your Japanese listening skills. The hack is simple: the more your brain encounters something, the more it says, “this is important”, and it remembers that thing.
3. Practice pronunciation -
Any problems you have pronouncing new words correctly will be reflected back in your listening skills. A good accent will give you the ability to hear and pick out the otherwise unnatural new sounds. To develop your accent, focus on any sounds or letters that feel difficult or unnatural for you. Once you get more comfortable with the basic sounds, start to combine them using words and whole sentences.
4. Make listening part of your routine -
Understanding native speakers may seem daunting at first, but with a little time and perseverance, you will see your skills improve! The point is that you should make a conscious and decisive effort to practice your listening skills on a regular basis. It could be 30 minutes a day or it might be 10. What matters most is that you practice consistently.
5. Practice Active Listening -
One of the best ways to practice listening is to, well, listen to your target language. But this doesn’t mean putting on some music and listening to it in the background as you do other things. You need to practice active listening. Get your hands on a recording of spoken language. You can use a movie, news broadcast, or podcast. You can even try subscribing to a YouTube channel. Listen to a segment of the audio and do your best to write down what you hear.
6. Watch TV shows & movies with subtitles -
Many people love to watch Japanese variety shows, dramas, or anime. They help you get used to the ways natives speak and the words they use. As it is effortless to read the subtitles, they are just enjoying the story and not listening carefully to the Japanese language. As a result, to improve your listening, you should focus on listening to the Japanese without looking at the subtitles.
7. Enroll in online classes -
By enrolling yourself in a Japanese learning class, you’ll be exposed to a bunch of other speakers and a language expert. You can ask the teachers to adjust their speaking speed as per your understanding; you can also ask them to pronounce words with emphasis on the first letter because as a beginner student, you often cannot differentiate between the words and a whole sentence of eight words may sound like one long long word that never ends!
8. Practice, practice, practice -
Take advantage of every single chance you have to listen to Japanese. The old adage of “practice makes perfect” certainly rings true here. Rather than standing stunned like a deer in the headlights when someone throws rapid Japanese at you, constant listening practice will help you get the gist of what they’re saying. Soon, you’ll be able to distinguish critical keywords. This means you can understand the context of a conversation without worrying too much about understanding every single word.
9. Be Proactive about listening practice -
One issue with all of these resources is that it’s also easy to take a very passive approach. It’s one thing to simply watch a Japanese drama, but attempting to transcribe what you heard during a drama program takes the Japanese learning experience to an entirely different level. You can develop your listening abilities by actively trying to decipher what you hear, regardless of what you’re listening to.
These are the 9 ways through which you can improve your Japanese listening skills. Try talking to yourself in Japanese. It’s a strange tip that often works. With a bit of practice, you’ll be well on your way to improving your Japanese listening skills.
Just in case you also want to learn Japanese numbers – Learn Japanese Numbers Here!