I am currently in NZ and so have mainly English language programmes on Netflix. Of course I do have and watch Japanese programmes (mainly Anime) on Netflix.
Oddly I recently changed to Japanese audio and subtitles on one Anime (Dragons Dogma) and then found that Japanese had become the default language for everything else, even for non-Japanese stuff such as Enola Holmes or Teen Titans Go!
Before Japanese was not an available language option for anything not originally in Japanese. It is a bit weird but brilliant as can now watch stuff in English but with Japanese subtitles (when watching with my daughter).
Watching in Japanese/Japanese is still a huge challenge. Pretty depressing after three years. Was watching a programme on Tacos in Spanish with Spanish subtitles and comprehension was about 95% (just the odd word here or there I didn’t know) yet watching Japanese it is probably only 25% at best even though I have been studying Japanese for three years and put in much more effort than I ever did for Spanish. Of course, if I freeze the screen and take time to read the subtitles (and check up words) I can pretty much understand it but that is poor progress after such effort.
I don’t think it’s poor progress at all! I’m multilingual too, and I can say that some languages are just easier than others. Spanish is a relatively easy language and Japanese is a relatively difficult one. So it makes total sense that the same amount of effort/time is gonna lead to different results. They’re different languages! I have the same problem with French vs English. I’m way better at English than at French, even though I’ve poured infinitely more time and effort into my French studies. But English is much easier than French! It’s normal! Don’t be so hard on yourself and try not to get discouraged. You made a lot of progress and the effort you made getting there is valuable in and of itself. Learning languages is great! Be proud of yourself and of the progress you’ve made.
As long as you continue what you’re doing you’ll make progress. 3 years isn’t so long in the grand scheme of trying to learn a language. Think of the times you come across a word in english and don’t know the meaning of it.
I also discovered the japanese audio setting a few days ago. Started watching Hook in japanese, it’s so great. However, one of the issues is that with these dubs the subtitles do not necessarily match what is being said. They seem to have been translated separately, kind of mucking it up for second language learners. So keep that in mind if you want to watch stuff not originally in japanese
I don’t know if this is any comfort, but I’m a native Chinese speaker (albeit with English that’s stronger than my Chinese since I grew up in an English-speaking environment while frequently using Chinese for school and watching TV), meaning I don’t have to learn many kanji beyond their readings, and it’s pretty challenging for me too. I’ve been studying Japanese for two years. Sure, maybe my comprehension is higher than yours: for anime I really like, which I’ve watched several times (like at least thrice), I can reach about 60% comprehension without the dictionary, but I still feel the urge to look up a few words every 10-20 seconds. Definitely at least once a minute. That ‘60%’ doesn’t come in nice, solid blocks, believe me. My comprehension drops to maybe 30-40% for a completely new anime, and that’s probably not an accurate figure since I usually have English/French subtitles on!
It’s normal, really, especially because the Japanese spoken on TV is really quite different from whatever we study in textbooks. My friend studies at one of the top Japanese universities, has an N1, and credits anime songs for a good part of his Japanese knowledge, but he still tells me he strongly doubts he can make it through an entire anime episode without referring to the subtitles. He started Japanese 10 years ago. (He’s a Chinese speaker too, even if it’s possible that my Chinese was stronger than his when we finally stopped compulsory Chinese lessons.)
I’d just like to say, however, that perseverance is important, and that it will pay off. If you keep studying diligently and picking up new words, celebrating every little bit of learning, eventually, everything will click. The impenetrable wall of sound that Japanese speech is now will slowly start to crumble. I did that for French, and it eventually paid off. I’m currently studying engineering in France, and I rarely have trouble following what’s going on in class unless it involves an enormous quantity of numbers (because I still can’t process them quickly enough in French). Don’t give up: you’re already doing well, and you just need more time. Once you’ve spent enough time immersing yourself in native material and looking things up, you’ll reach a point where you hear more things you know than things you don’t. That’s the point where you’ll start to understand and to easily deduce what words mean from context.
Thanks for the encouraging words. I will keep plugging away. I think ultimately I will need to spend a bit of time living and working in Japan to really crack it. Just waiting for my daughter to go to Uni so that I can retire. Then planning to spend a few months in Japan working on farms or the like (so mixing just with Japanese and being forced to use it!)
Interesting what you say about numbers and French. I lived 14 years in Switzerland and was completely fluent in German but the one problem I had was with numbers eg people giving me their phone number. Just seemed my brain didn’t want to process them even though I was completely familiar with numbers in German (and Swiss German).
That’s true, unfortunately. I live in Japan and obviously I have tons of Japanese contents on Netlifx, however everything that is not with Japanese as original language is unusable as subtitles don’t match the actual dialogues at all!
You could watch that content in the original language (provided you understand it . Maybe go for English movies or shows). And turn on Japanese subtitles. It won’t be listening practice, more reading practice, but you can hear English idioms and read ways you might express that in Japanese. Also, it’s perfect for a relaxing movie night, where you can lowkey interact with the language. Also useful if you’re in mixed company (people who don’t know Japanese).
Or you could turn on JP subs for languages wher you would usually turn on Eng subs. For example, my boyfriend and I once watched a Chinese movie with Japanese subs, and it was not too difficult to follow! Added bonus, you have to read the subs, because you otherwise don’t know what they’re saying, so it’s excellent speed reading practice .