In the thread on the recent mock JLPT test, I was surprised by the number of posts saying that the listening part was (too) easy compared to the other parts of the test (vocab, grammar, reading). To me it seemed the most difficult part. Therefore I would like to know what you did to reach such a good understanding of spoken Japanese.
What people might be noticing is that the actual content of a listening section is generally easier than the content of the rest of any given test (like if you looked at it in written script form). So if you’ve attuned your listening skills to the speed of that level, the Japanese you encounter will not be difficult Japanese.
It kind of has to be this way, since the thing they are testing is whether you’ve gotten your listening chops up to speed or not. Getting better at following progressively faster speech is not as easy to recognize tangibly. There aren’t as many metrics for keeping track of how you’ve improved. So I think people often kind of forget how much work they had to put into that.
Or maybe they don’t think that and it’s just something else.
I didn’t take the mock JLPT but I did the N3 and N2 sample questions on the JLPT website the other day and was surprised by the fact that listening was my best section, even though I barely practice listening compared to grammar and reading.
Most of my listening practice comes from live streams and youtube videos and I always feel like I only get the gist of what’s being said when there aren’t any subs…but I guess in comparison the JLPT listening exercises are easier because the characters speak more slowly and clearly. So I guess I’m still learning something when watching youtube videos, even though it doesn’t feel like it in the moment
I found the JLPT listening ok when I did practice tests at home, but sat at the back of a large room with an echo and some background noise and a bit of sound bleeding in from the tests in the other rooms…not so good.
The listening section was always the worst for me whenever I took the test (from N3 up to N1), but not because of the content. Rather, the classrooms where I took the test always had terrible echo (and my hearing isn’t really the best either), so often times I had to guess what I thought the words being said were based on the sounds that I could make out and the surrounding context. I took dozens of mock tests for each JLPT level in preparation, with accompanying audio, so I knew where my listening skills were, but the echo in the classrooms increased the difficulty a lot. I had to focus a lot harder and strain to make everything out, and even then I had to do a lot of guesswork.
Most of the Japanese I’m exposed to (via online media) is conversational native Japanese spoken at natural speed so compared to that, JLPT stuff feels easier. It’s like when you’re used to hearing someone at 1.25x speed and then you try dropping it down to normal speed, they suddenly seem like they’re talking so slowly.
I don’t think listening is that easy in real life, and while it’s also not always easy in listening exams, it’s not as hard compared to the other sections as long as it’s loud. Same with anime and videos in Japanese (mostly), if you can listen at a loud volume or with earphones with no background noise, it’s much easier than irl where people talk fast and don’t speak clearly, and there’s some kind of political campaign truck and a murder of crows in the background because Japan.
I can see how that would be a problem but thankfully the speakers in the room where I took the test were loud as hell, such that I suspect the people sitting directly next to them may be experiencing some permanent hearing loss at this point.
I don’t have any experience with the real JLPT, but I took the mock N2 and N1, and my impression from those is just that, like – the most difficult conversation you’ve had day-to-day is “easier” formally than the most difficult text you might read. In the sense that at those levels, vocabulary and grammar-wise, the audio is much easier than the text because on the whole, people don’t talk like N1 texts. So to some extent at least, as long as you can parse what you’re hearing, the understanding itself is less of a problem than it would be at a lower level.
There were some “a professor is giving a lecture, what would be a good topic of the lecture” questions if I remember right, and I think I did worst at those, but otherwise there were plenty of the same kinds of “two people are talking” questions that were on the N2, just the performances were exaggerated a bit more. And while the actors did their best to sound natural, I think the performed, artificial structure of a multiple choice question is the other thing that made it easier.
In real life or real media, people don’t cycle through the possible things they might mean in order and reject or accept them in turn. So I felt like I got used to the JLPT speakers doing that and what to listen for, since they always have to mention each multiple choice, even if it’s just to reject it. At the N1 level, they appeared to have excerpted the text pieces from real sources. If they’d done the same for the audio, I think it would have been a lot harder.
(I haven’t had any spoken conversations in Japanese, which is why I expected to do worst in listening, but I have watched lots of media and videos with Japanese subtitles or no subtitles at all, and I’ve done some N3 new kanzen master listening drills before this - so it’s not to say I’ve had no practice at all)
Going to try not to underestimate the real thing, but it wasn’t the black hole I was expecting in the practice tests.
Almost a year ago I created a POLL in the Listening Practice thread to figure out what peeople use for listening practice. (I can’t really vote in your poll because you don’t have an other option, or enough specific options)
Currently: this is how the popularity is between mediums:
Anime, 2. Youtube, 3. Podcasts, 4. Japanese music, and 5. Japanese movies.
They’re all great choices for sure.
I think for listening comprehension quantity is more important than quality.
Just find something that you genuinely enjoy listen to. There is no need to find the “best” training materials there is. With time, you can try out more difficult ones, but just about anything is helpful to get you started on listening practice and getting better at it.
Having fun is an important aspect of learning in my opinion! ^>^