Omg! Thank you! I’m going to make this part of my challenge activities!
Just a small update, but I noticed kind of a breakthrough with Spanish recently. I was listening to the Duolingo podcast, and I realized I was understanding it without having to translate in my head, which is a pretty cool feeling! I’m sure I’ve been doing that for longer than I thought, but it was nice to consciously be aware of it as it was happening.
I’m actually noticing how slow they speak in the Duolingo podcast, haha, after watching so much of La Casa de las Flores, where everyone of course speaks at normal talking speed. I’m almost done with the first season of that show.
As far as Japanese goes, the big thing I noticed recently is that during my first pass through the 童話 stories, when I play the audio and try to follow along with the text without looking anything up, I tend to get tripped up when they slightly change the wording for the audio, or when it skips part of the text. But after I read through the story a second time, this time aiming for full comprehension, when I listen to it again afterward, I’m able to actually hear the parts they change or leave out (such as using a different word for “said,” or cutting “he said” out of the audio, etc.), and I’m a lot better at keeping up with the transcription.
That made me feel a little more confident about my listening ability, because I actually am able to comprehend more than I think!
Also, I was wondering where I’d heard あるところに (a staple in pretty much every single 童話) before, because I had a very clear memory of hearing that phrase somewhere, and then I realized that I was remembering it from the beginning of the Vocaloid song Alice Human Sacrifice, which was on my ipod for many years .
One week left to go!
Yoiks! Now I really want to try “Stranger Things” in Japanese. Usually, I would have to not look at an American movie that I’m trying to watch in Japanese, because I would be reading the English on their lips (that’s not even a skill set that I have!!) and it interferes with my Japanese listening enjoyment.
OK, WOW, I love “Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” (hence my profile picture of Impa from when she was a young warrior in “Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword”; recently re-released on modern platforms, I highly recommend that game). A two hour plus long YouTube video by Game Gengo Breath of the Wild Vocabulary goes through every sentence, word by word plus grammar discussion for most of the isolated plateau storyline cut scenes. That makes it an excellent resource for beginners, imho. My flashcard deck to go along with this video is here: BOTW flashcards for your intensive listening preparation. I’m not finished with the deck, yet, but as I update it, the link will remain the same.
I’m adding the Japanese Quest Breath of the Wild video link here. It’s slow (4 hours+ long!) but also useful… faster than playing Zelda in Japanese and looking things up (I know, I tried…I could barely see the kanji and then had to handwrite then all into MTL lookup… couldn’t export)
Also this Zelda Fandom Wiki Translation Page was VERY helpful!!
EDIT the next day:
I enjoyed extensive listening on the Zelda BOTW Japanese dub/English dub YouTube of All “Memories” Cut Scenes
I actually bought the free month of YouTube so that I can keep it playing over and over in the background without the video…
Same, I read the phrase and that was my immediate association, I guess I’ll be listening to old vocaloid song now^^;
I’ve been watching Samurai Champloo without subtitles, I can’t say I can really follow the dialogue but I’ve watched the show several times before so I get the gist of things and I’m enjoying myself
Day III: じょうるり半七
Listened to today’s folktale! Listening gets a bit frustrating, it feels like I almost understand… but don’t. Now I know why two year olds are always so angry, they just want to know what everyone’s talking about
I can be happy that I can pick out one word without fail:
Jun 25, Sat of Week 13 of pre-Summer 2022’s summary
I started recording Japanese’s read aloud; however, not only that I failed to read correctly sometimes, I also failed to read with passion – for example, the style in 入らず山の鬼婆’s native recording in Zakarius’s post earlier.
I will also consider singing, or singing with an instrument. 大槻マキ - Memories  caught my
I wil try to record everyday; therefore, a new calendar.
I started playing games with Japanese dub, like Yakuza (龍が如く) (and ATRI isn’t yet out of question); and there is a subtitle. Now, it might be impossible for me to turn off subtitle as well, as I understand too little. 
Watching anime without subtitle (Death Note, やがて君になる, 進撃の巨人), although I don’t understand enough, and might fail to hear even with rewinding a short audio segment repeated; I probably would continue to do it, but try to collect vocabularies in advance first. 
Podbeans, or of course YouTube, is still considered – it depends on occasions, or whether I only have a smartphone at the time as well. I still watch Japanese YouTube from time-to-time, if I catch a fellow WaniKani-er posting an interesting YouTube.
As far as my actual understanding goes, I probably understand quite well for kid’s YouTube, but quite poorly for everything else.
One Piece S01 ED ↩︎
- I also bought Marco VN (on Steam), and the vocabularies are within my range. Nonetheless, I returned for refund, as I find the story odd…
- I successfully setup Textractor (for VN, and also saw the website for Yomichan). Didn’t really use it yet, but rather than using it full-blown, maybe just using it to comprehend backlogs better.
I decided to drop Samurai Champloo, nonetheless. ↩︎
Day IV: 昼寝
Listened to today’s Edo story!
Since it’s short I listened to it twice to see if I could pick anything extra out, but I don’t think my listening comprehension was any better the second time round
I listened to it a third time while reading and I could understand pretty much everything the narrator said. Come on ears, you can work without eyes doing all the work for you, 頑張って！
That guy has some crazy narrator skills though, he can do a different voice for every character in every story and never misses a beat (some of the ones I’ve read in the past challenges have been hilarious to listen to).
It’s impressive in itself that you managed to read aloud the whole thing! That’s no easy feat. Passion and vocalisation will come out on their own when you get more used to saying the words, and really, even when reading aloud in your native tongue, it is hard to bring out passion etc. on the fly when reading something aloud.
I think the singing might be really helpful, as it’s supposed to be easier to sing other languages than talk them since you’re focusing more on the sounds of everything rather than the word, should help you get an ear for how the words sound.
It’s very hard to let go of the need to understand everything (or at least most). I’ve listened to the first half of chapter 2 of かがみの孤城 multiple times in the hope that I could catch more than before, but of course, my brain instantly recognizes that it’s the same old once again, and resolutely tunes out. There is just no way I can make myself engage with something I’ve already listened to more than twice, not until a lot of time has passed at least. So I guess I’ll just have to move on to the next tracks. I need to constantly keep reminding myself to have a child-like attitude towards listening, but it certainly doesn’t come naturally.
I tried to watch some anime on Netflix but nothing seems to hold my interest. So once again I settled on Stranger Things. There is a clear benefit in watching already familiar material (as long as I don’t get too bored). I know the gist of what they’re saying, so it’s easier (and quicker) to map sounds to expected concepts. I’m still missing quite a lot, but it’s not frustrating since I still follow along, and I’m so elated when I get something clearly enough to be surprised by the difference in expression in the two languages, or even to get to laugh at a joke.
Day V: 川の字
Listened to today’s Edo tale! This one is very short (seven sentences) but still had a hard time with it.
I also watched an episode of Pokemon in Japanese last night, and I understood more than I thought, which was a nice surprise.
≪ 十万ボルト！！ ≫
Jun 27, Mon of Week 1 of Summer 2022’s listing
I might turn on subtitles, if it is available. However, I will take most care (as appropriate) to ensure that I can listen properly.
- Subtitled / with text
Finish SPY x FAMILY EP.1
SPY x FAMILY EP.2
(Will read first)
- SPY x FAMILY EP.2
- やがて君になる EP.5+
- Finish SPY x FAMILY EP.1
- No subtitle
- Death Note EP.7
- 進撃の巨人 EP.2 (Will read first. This one is troublesome, as no subtitle, and I might not know enough vocabularies, if no reading.)
- Everyday listening of 福娘童話集 (Hukusume)
- Something else, might be news, Japanese teaching, or some YouTube – if I listen well, I should be able to explain.
- 地球温暖化は防げる？ - YouTube (Kurzgesagt from Gorbit and latepatato's suggestion)
- - YouTube (FNN)
激辛ラーメンも「辛くない」! 外国人が食べたい日本の味は?【しらべてみたら】 - YouTube (FNN)
- It’s about foreigner’s food; and some aren’t speaking Japanese. (There is Japanese voiceover.)
ネコのくしゃみで新型コロナに感染 初確認...タイの研究チームが発表 - YouTube (FNN, 1 minute only)
- It is weird seeing my country in Japanese…
Unplanned new materials
- Podbean app for Android (podcast)
≧10 minutes; ≧30 minutes
Today’s listening and read-aloud from 福娘童話集.
- My attempt
- It’s about 「ヤブ!!! 」
大福虫 (No native recording)
- My attempt
- Those who don’t know aren’t wrong!!!
I’m also following along with SpyxFamily in the book club and watching the anime after. I’ve found the anime is much harder to understand (no surprise I guess). But since I haven’t watched much anime, the vocal tones they use have been really surprising to me. So dramatic, but in such a specific way…
Day VI: 病人が下手
Unfortunately today’s folktale about mochi didn’t have any audio so I just listened to today’s Edo tale.
Noticing any improvement is a lot harder to measure in listening practice than reading.
So far all sentences to me just sound like: subjectは --[incoherent kana jumbles]-- ます/です！
For this unofficial early start I’ve not kept up with every single day cause I hit a low point and needed a short break in general, but overall, keeping up a little bit most of the time. Progress is slow on the audiobook since I’m just reading the book for half an hour or so most nights, but I’m finally at the halfway point and understanding a relatively satisfying amount.
I’ve also recently started listening to the さくら通信 podcast I’ve seen recommended a lot online. This one is my furthest step into a true Japanese podcast for Japanese listeners. 4989 is kind of like that but at least with the caveat that she knows she has listeners learning the language and provides transcripts (though I don’t use them). And whether it’s the abundance of loanword use and familiar subjects (since it’s about living in the US) or just her speaking style, it was definitely a simpler one than this.
I had a few attempts at this in the past before I was ready with no progress, but I’m kinda sorta there? It can be annoyingly spotty, understand a lot and then miss a lot, but overall on the last few episodes I’ve tried I’ve understood just enough I think. Often the words I miss are the particularly crucial ones, annoyingly enough, but that’s also pretty natural since less common words carry more specific meaning and whatnot. It reminds me a lot of how I felt back when listening to Nihongo con Teppei and later his joint podcast with Noriko, which I’ve eventually outgrown, so I think I’m on the right track if I keep rolling with this.
Oh also! I’ve only had time to listen to a little, but if anyone is into videogames/speedrunning, there is a Twitch channel restreaming Games Done Quick with Japanese commentary! The difficulty of the language seems to depend on when you turn it on. Yesterday I was understanding a pretty tiny amount of the Crash 2 run, but checking it right now, Link’s Awakening seems easier.
Jun 28, Tue of Week 1 of Summer 2022
Yeah, it might be better to watch anime with Japanese subtitle after all (tried with SPY x FAMILY and やがて君になる), but with some concerns.
- I started paying less attention to the picture itself, as I don’t want to look at the subtitle, and might lose some of the content itself.
- Understanding is general sufficient, although I rewind for time-to-time, to understand the hearing better.
- Without-subtitle’s understanding is still bad. (Tried with Black Jack OVA EP.1, two days ago)
Also, today, I learnt about who 吉四六さん is (teller of many stories in 福娘童話集). This is from today’s story listening 川に落ちた下駄 – my read-aloud.
Day VII: お花とごんべえ
Listened to today’s folktale from Fukushima Prefecture! About a fox and tanuki causing mischief for each other.
This one felt a bit easier, the sentences seem a little simpler. It also has two audio recordings, the first one was a bit difficult as there was music playing under the narration and it was hard to pick out the words, so I used the second one.
Jun 29, Wed of Week 1 of Summer 2022
Anything with Japanese subtitle and Japanese dub is within possibility, even if it isn’t made in Japan, however
- SPY x FAMILY, for example, is heavy on vocabularies, so more of reading practice, and less of listening practice
- Also, I don’t know how to feel when subtitle doesn’t match audio. My ears aren’t good enough either.
Also listened and read-aloud to just now is コウノトリの恩返し.
- Conclusion: Money is needed for 恩返し.
- Yomichan picked up wrong / unpreferred readings sometimes.
- Different reading for 大商人. I have to trust the story audio, anyway, as it is in context.
- Didn’t pick up the whole 大長者
- I have heard of 鶴の恩返し before (but didn’t quite remember) (and also, Cat Returns). This story is a little different?
Vocabulary of today:
I bought the free month of YouTube premium, so I could listen to the videos without looking…
But darn it, I love Breath of the Wild a lot, and it has very much more written Japanese than spoken… so unless the narrator is reading the text out, I wasn’t getting much Japanese from Japanese Quest, and even then it helped to look. I took a lot of screen shots to look things up. Here are some BOTW notes. I spent waay too much time. But I’m really driven to being able to play the existing title in Japanese before the “Breath of the Wild 2” comes out (it’s already been delayed a few years). …
I tried to find some other streamers, but nobody was really reading the Japanese out loud or even making Japanese comments… mostly just playing the game through with stunts…
I did enjoy watching a Japanese girl play Genshin Impact (while I did the dishes), just to hear her excited comments. There was a lot of よしよしよしよokokokok which I liked, etc. And several 殺さないで which I wasn’t fully certain whether it meant “I can’t kill (the boss)” or “don’t kill me!” (I think the later).
And I mostly just posted here today, because I understood a surprising amount of the conversation by this guy Onomappu. I think he’s using simple vocabulary, and had been clear speech… and he’s funny
One more day before the official challenge begins … I was supposed to spend June getting used to listening and finding out how I would go about the challenge proper, but I’m only a little less lost than before. What I’m finding out is that it’s not easy for me to keep up with every day listening. While theoretically it can be done in the background while doing other stuff, if I actually want to understand a good amount of what I’m hearing, I need to be on constant alert. When however I have that kind of time and energy to devote to Japanese, I’ll choose reading every time. Not only do I enjoy it more, but I somehow feel that it’s better use of my time, even if my listening skills definitely need more work than my reading skills. (probably something to do with reading having been encouraged as a pastime since my early childhood? Not that anyone discouraged me from listening or anything…)
So in short, I’m still not sure whether I’ll be able to keep up with the challenge every day, nor do I know what I will be mainly listening to. I guess I’ll continue as best I can with the audiobook some days, watch a video or something (why do videos bore me so much??) on some others, and sometimes totally forget about listening. It’s still better than a month ago, so it’s all good.
I don’t know if you’re into anki or not but I mentioned to someone on the forum awhile ago (in this thread I think) that I trained my ears to pick up more using Subs2SRS flashcards. They’re best for series you’ve seen before, but barring that any simple series will do. I can’t link premade sets on the forums because legal reasons but they’re a Google away. There is also SuperNative which has a Listen+Recall feature that can also be used to train your ear although I don’t like it as much.
All this to say that maybe a way to make it a habit but a lower stress one is to start smaller? You know yourself best, so whatever you think would work for you, but I had to work up to listening to audiobooks and not having it be a wall of noise.
That’s absolutely true. The audiobook is usually going well for the first 5 minutes or so, then it becomes a wall of noise as you say. Part of it is my resistance to listening attentively to anything, but mostly it’s that my brain gets tired, I’m sure. I’ve tried the mini stories @Zakarius listens to, but while shorter, they feel somehow more difficult than my audiobook, maybe because by the time I’ve sort of understood the context the story is already over?
Anki then would be a perfectly reasonable solution. Too bad it feels too much like studying
It’s something to keep in mind though, as are Visual Novels and other things people have been suggesting.