How to improve my listening skills in Japanese?
Japanese is an East Asian language spoken by about 128 million people, primarily in Japan, where it is the national language. Little is known of the language’s prehistory, or when it first appeared in Japan. Chinese documents from the 3rd century recorded a few Japanese words, but substantial texts did not appear until the 8th century. It is a member of the Japonic language family, and its relation to other languages, such as Korean, is debated. Japonic languages have been grouped with other language families such as Ainu, Austroasiatic, and the now-discredited Altaic, but none of these proposals has gained widespread acceptance.
The following tips should help you improve your listening skills in Japanese:
1. Concentration is the key
Remove all distractions and get focused. Put your phone in another room, sit in a quiet, uncrowded space and absorb the words you’re listening to. Select audio as per your learning level and slow down the pace if required. Don’t try to be overambitious jumping to complicated subjects.
2, Listen Actively with your undivided attention.
To register data, your brain requires you to highlight things, that you want it to remember. By paying close attention to something and repeating it multiple times, you send a clear message to your brain that something is important and needs to be remembered. While this is applicable straightaway to things like learning vocabulary, it’s also true when it comes to the other parts of listening, including sounds, accents, intonation or phrasing. You need to bring attention to them. That’s why it’s very important to listen actively rather than passively listening and multitasking. Listen to the Audio without text – audio alone. Don’t read the text in advance and don’t follow along with it as you listen. The point here is to focus solely on your aural skills and see how much you can understand without any visual aid.
3. Repeat Listening without text yet!
Many learners make the mistake of turning to the text too quickly. The first time around, you probably would have identified one or two keywords or ideas. But as you repeat the audio, and listen again you can actually see yourself pick more words or phrases you may have missed the first time. Repeating the third exercise more times will enhance your listening significantly.
4. Listen with the Text
Read through the transcript and check how much you understood from your listening. Assess if you were able to get the ‘gist’! Once you’ve read through the text a few more times and looked up any words you didn’t understand, you should now listen to the audio again a couple of more times while you read along with the text. This is the one time during the process that you’re using aural and visual stimuli together, so take advantage of it. Try to connect the written words to the sounds and pay special attention to phrases or groups of words and how they’re pronounced.
5. Find listening to sources with exercises
Many Japanese audio resources have accompanying exercises, and these are great for beginner learners. If new words are introduced in a particular exercise of your listening resource, don’t just read through them. Take your time to learn them first. The best way to learn is by jotting down everything you know about Japanese in a diary. Always keep it handy.
6. Listen to the natives
Listening to a native Japanese speaker, will give you a clear idea of the accent and the pronunciations of every word. Alternatively find friends pursuing Japanese. Let go of that anxiety, make friends with other students, interact and it will help you, not only improve your listening skills but also improve your speaking skills. You will be able to respond appropriately only when you hear correctly. You need to have a conversation with somebody who not only speaks Japanese but is patient and preferably, interesting.
7. Watch movies
Watch Japanese movies with English subtitles. This should help you further understand complicated sentences and phrases.
8. Listen to podcasts
Listening to Japanese podcasts has a great effect on listening. It’ll immune your brain into understanding the accents as well and catch repeated words.
9. Watch known videos
You can watch videos that you have previously watched (in a language that you understand or your native language) in Japanese without subtitles will start to help you get accustomed to the language.
10. Listen to audiobooks
One of the best ways of improving your listening skills would be to listen to Japanese audiobooks. This step should be used once you harbour the basic knowledge of Japanese.
11. Record and Listen
Once you’ve reached a point where you believe you grasp correct words by hearing them, it’s time to record yourself and listen. You can record your daily chores or your to-do lists and listen to them when in need.
12. Listen to the news
Listening to the news is already a pretty good habit to develop. It helps you stay up to date with current affairs. Listening to that news in Japanese will help you also improve your listening skills.
There’s no quick fix for Listening Skills. Whether you’re learning a language or any other skill, there’s no magic solution. Improving your listening skills takes time and a lot of focused listening but if you work at it in the right way, you can actually make significant improvements faster than you might think. Listening Skills are all about concentration and dedication and to master them, you have to make use of both.
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