I’m taking the N5 in a month, and I’m on track to finish Genki 1 in time, so I thought I would be okay. However, I just tried out some sample N5 listening questions and did absolutely terribly. I’m willing to put in whatever time is necessary between now and December 1st, but I’m unsure what the most efficient way to get better at listening is, when you don’t really understand it at all. My initial plan is to keep listening to these samples and reading the transcripts until I understand them, but I’m worried that when I’m in the test and faced with new recordings I’ll still not be able to understand.
Does anyone have any advice for how to get past the initial hurdle of not really understanding spoken Japanese? I think some of the issue is not having fully finished Genki 1 yet I didn’t recognise some of the grammar, so I’ll finish that ASAP. Any tips are much appreciated. Thank you!
Rather than practicing listening test questions until the test, it would probably be best to practice listening to any simple Japanese.
The frustrating thing about listening is that it will almost certainly feel like you don’t understand most of it… until you do. But you have to keep exposing yourself to it to get your brain used to parsing what it hears.
There are lots of resources devoted to this kind of thing. I checked on Youtube for instance and found this.
Like I said, that will probably still feel really difficult. The idea is not to listen to it for perfection, but to listen to it so you just absorb more spoken Japanese. When you do this every day for a while, and then return to the kind of test questions you’ll see, they’ll just seem easier than they did before.
Thank you so much, I’ll go through a few of those videos. It’s so frustrating feeling like you can’t understand a thing
Another good source of N5/N4 listening practice is Benjiro - Beginner Japanese on YouTube. He records simple (but lengthy) conversations with Japanese folks for learning purposes. If there’s more complex grammar, he adds subs to clarify. I think most of his videos are ~50 minutes, so there’s tons of practice to be had there.
Hi, there, I’m also taking N5 in December!
Here’s what’s been helping me with listening:
Nihongo no Mori N5 playlist: 14 videos, about 5 minutes each, showing basic expressions and simple conversations, played out by the same one or two teachers, with subtitles in English and Japanese. The teachers speak slowly and make pauses in the sentences, which are fairly “textbook like” (this might be somewhat boring, but was still useful to me as a beginner!). This is the easiest beginner listening resource I’ve seen so far.
Nihongo con Teppei for beginners podcast: watch out because there’s another podcast by the same teacher, but for intermediate level listeners! This one has 100+ episodes of about 4 minutes each. The teacher explores different topics throughout the episodes, introducing and repeating vocabulary and phrases, and offering lots of different possible answers to the questions he makes. This way, you can get a general understanding of the topic and learn new words, even without a transcript to follow. The speed, grammar and vocabulary gradually increase throughout the episodes. This is harder than the Nihongo no Mori N5 playlist, but still easier that other beginner resources out there.
JLPT Stories podcast, N5 category: So far, there are 6 episodes in the N5 category of this podcast. The episodes are about 3 minutes long, and consist of a high-school boy narrating aspects of his life. For each episode, there’s a page with the transcript, the translation, and links to other resources explaining some of the grammar points used. This is the hardest of these three resources.
When I first started, I would listen to hours of anime (no subtitles) that I had no hope of understanding. But my goal was simply to see “what words can I pick out.” 99% of everything went completely over my head, but by paying close attention I slowly figured out the names of the characters and learned a few simple nouns by myself. Most of these were useless, like “kunai” (I was watching Naruto, lol) but that isn’t even the point. It trained my ear to listen to Japanese, making it sound more natural to me. I’d watch the same episode again and again and again. I never understood more than 1% of the total episode, but it was a good exercise, and when I did figure out a word completely on my own without looking at the script or a dictionary, it was exhilarating.
I recommend this strategy as a fun way to wrap-up your studies for the day. Spend 20 minutes or so a day watching whatever is interesting to you, and re-watch the same episode a few times.
Thank you, and good luck with the JLPT!
I am also having this problem, so thanks for posting this question up!
This is a website based on the Genki Textbook for listening tests. I think it’s nice cause it gets you in the habit of answering listening comprehension questions.
This is an awesome resource! Thanks so much for sharing
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