Best way to practice listening?

Hello all, Sorry if this topic has been breached many times!

Basically, I have been on my Japanese journey for about 2 years now, and I am pretty confident in my reading abilities for the most part, but the moment I have to listen to Japanese its like my brain fizzles out!!

I am not sure how to get past this phase… I have tried listening to podcasts and videos but I still feel like my brain is too slow to get past the simplest of sentences. Do you guys have a good routine that I can follow?

Thanks guys <3


When you have tried listening to stuff, are you playing around with the playback speed at all? Maybe something at regular speed would be more doable at 70% speed. Even youtube has playback speed options.


My wife watchs YouTube videos at 2x. Super annoying.


I have never messed with playback speed, I don’t know why I never thought of that…
I will give that a try from now on!

I used to be in the same position and I’ll post what I did.
My listening is still not as good as my reading (will it ever be?) but by listening for hours and hours upon hours it has gotten so much better it’s insane.

  • I started out with N5 listening practice + benjiro’s skype calls with Japanese teachers (link below).

  • Once I got used to/bored by the above, I jumped straight into listening to the audio from my favourite anime. I ripped some audio and listened to it while commuting.

  • After a long period of anime listening I began to dabble in a few youtube videos every now and then and tried to catch as much as possible. I also began to watch anime without subtitles while powering through and trying my hardest.

  • I’m currently listening to podcasts, let’s play commentary, anime, terrace house, etc.

Some people say (me included) that you should just jump into native level and drown from there until you can swim. However, I do believe that finding a source that provides comprehensible input is key and will help you advance faster. For me it’s currently the 日本語の森 N3 playlists and after all the struggling I can finally understand 95% of something native (although they speak slow but whatever)

I’ll link some various material just to give a taste of what I went through.

Benjiro’s channel:

N5 listening:

Radio talk:

Persona let’s play:

Speaking about Japanese being hard


Thank you so much for the advice and the helpful videos!!!
I have a question though, everytime I listen to something, I can’t help but feel like I am misinterpreting or feel like I am getting it wrong. How do you assess if you have actually understood correctly? Do you read the subtitles or do you just kinda get it through context?

Thanks once again!

I’m glad you asked this, because I had the same question.

Thanks for the helpful advice everyone!

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Is that it? Or is it about how annoying gaijin are, haha. Also, is he an American born bilingual speaker or something? It’s not totally clear from that video alone (at least the 15 minutes or so I watched).


Well the JLPT practice videos come with an answer key at the end so for those it’s really easy to check whether you understood correctly or not.

As for native material I never doubt too much whether I’m understanding something correctly or not. If I understand something I understand it. You will misinterpret at times without knowing and that’s ok.

Maybe try listening to something that you’ve already watched in English before so you know the story and if you hear stuff you know is not part of the plot then that’s something to look into :wink:


Haha well… it was a long time since I watched it but I remember him talking about people screwing up intonation, claiming that Japanese is much easier than their native tongue, misunderstanding the culture, etc so yeah, it’s about gaijin being annoying :wink:

I’m not 100% sure but I do believe that he is born and raised in America yes.


I’ll be sure to save this post for later, tyvm!

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I’ve listened to probably a thousand million hours of Japanese music and the combo of me singing and learning lyrics has helped me being able to listen to Japanese a ton.

So, you’re at least 114,000 years old? Are you sure you should be outing yourself as an immortal that easily?


Wow, you watched that much? I got irritated after he brought up not being able lose one’s accent as a reason why Japanese was difficult (despite the same being true with him learning Portuguese). I really dislike when people use weak reasons to support their arguments.


Yeah, a lot of his commentary isn’t well thought out. He goes on to say that English has little to no intonation, which makes Japanese intonation difficult for learners.

But I think he can speak English natively as well, so that’s just a weird thing to say.


I am definitely inclined to agree, as an English teacher… or at least, ALT in Japan. I see my students struggle so very hard with English pronunciation. We have so very many different sounds our mouths can make in English that it does far outnumber Japanese.

Though I also agree there are those who do not quite grasp the importance of intonation, with a whole word changing depending only on how long you hold a certain sound.

Both languages are incredibly hard for non-native speakers, so it really comes off as quite biased. lol.


I wanted to put in my own two cents!

It really is hard for me to say whether these resources have actual helped me because living in Japan is the ultimate way, it is honestly sink or swim. But I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you check out these audio books by audible. They are seriously such a good investment, and they explain the grammar from each passage as well so you can get your grammar learning in there too! As well as key vocab.

They have different levels, and you can just go up through all of them! I use them with the audible app on my phone during study time, or while waiting for just about anything.

Or… You can just move to Japan to live and work. Because everyone has the time and money for that, right?
(Definitely a joke.)

I’m not the brightest immortal but I am the weebiest


I’m currently trying to improve my listening with this approach:

  1. Use an understandable dialog that I have a transcript for (textbooks, jlpt prep, shadowing book)
  2. Shadow it without looking at the transcript until I feel like I’ve stopped improving
  3. Shadow it while reading the transcript until I can do it well (and add any new things to anki)
  4. Shadow it without the transcript until I can do it well

I’ve only been doing this for 10-15 minutes a day for about a week so far but I think it’s helping.

The reason shadowing helps is that it has to get in your brain in order to come out again. Listening to lots of audio I didn’t understand did not help me.


I’d say just keep listening. Eventually you’ll start keeping up better. I’ve listened to native audio at regular speed since I started learning Japanese, and my listening comprehension is pretty good.

I go between 3x and 4x :eyes: