I studied Japanese at the college level for about 4 years 30 years ago and am trying to study it again now. I’m finding WK great for kanji and vocabulary and japanesepod101.com great for listening to contemporary conversational Japanese and learning/relearning some grammar. But my speaking skills are lagging behind. Does anyone have recommendations for a book, website or app that offers speaking drills? For instance, once a new grammar point or sentence structure has been introduced, I’d like to be challenged (as I would in a classroom) with making several unique sentences using what I’ve learned. (I know that I’d have to type the response, but I’d also say it out loud to myself to develop my speaking skills.)
Practicing speaking in a vacuum is probably limited in its effectiveness. I do find it useful to try to think to myself in Japanese when I’m traveling alone and take notes if I discover that I don’t know how to say something.
But I don’t think there’s anything that can replace just speaking with natives. It’s incredibly easy to find enthusiastic speaking partners online.
Talking to yourself throughout the day is a nice bit of supplement as well as reading things aloud, however I think the best method is to find native speakers to communicate with. Depending on your financial situation or personal study preferences, you could also hire a tutor. I’ve known several people who have hired tutors solely to meet them once or twice a week and hold conversations during the time.
Shadowing is very effective for developing your speaking (and listening) skills. It’s kind of magical, actually.
I recommend this book to get you started:
If you already subscribe to jpod101, their line-by-line dialogue feature is one of the most useful things out there. Choose your favorite voice actor and shadow their parts in the dialogues.
Tobira’s “online language partner” feature is really cool for shadowing: it even has video to practice the dialogues with the proper visual point of view, and a “record” function to instantly and easily record yourself over and over and compare to the native speaker.
Also, etoeto’s Kuma section (the only part really up and running as of now) is great. It’s all designed for shadowing.
I would also recommend Satori reader, which has the capability to go line-by-line much like jpod101.
One great thing about shadowing is that it will actually improve your accent. Obviously speaking live with native speakers is crucial but even some teachers won’t bother to correct your accent/pronunciation, whereas with shadowing you’re always comparing yourself to an ideal.
It may seem counterintuitive to learn to produce your own thoughts by shadowing others, but it really does work, and it helps you speak in more natural Japanese, rather than “translated from English in my head” Japanese.
Do they speak at natural, native speeds? I don’t enjoy listening to anything slow (like NHK learning shows, or the Genki audio) anymore. With the amount of passive listening and shadowing (without knowing that’s what it was) I’ve done in the past *coughnearlyeighteenyearscough* and some active listening in the last 2, it sounds really unnatural to my ear - and I also really don’t want to copy those speeds or exaggerated (in some cases) pronunciations myself.
I must admit, speaking to yourself helps in that you gain confidence hearing yourself speak the language. If being able to get a word out is a problem, this technique can help. Having said that, during those bouts of self-induced insanity, the lack of a native to hear you speak could be a gateway to bad habits. So use with caution as YMMV.
Here are a few resources:
-The Japanese shadowing books mentioned above are available online:
-There are some good things on Spotify. Just search for “Japanese” or “Japanese language”, and select something that seems level appropriate. My favorite is the Cut Tongue Sparrow story. It is told at native speed, slow speed, and then each line is read and you can repeat it.
Neither of these is exactly what you are looking for, since neither of them require you to make up your own sentence as you go, but I was surprised at how much the Cut Tongue Sparrow helped me. I listened to it on my hour long drive to work and repeated, and it helps a lot with really drilling the basics into my (rather thick) skull, and listening, and just the motor memory of your mouth and vocal chords of making the sounds of Japanese. I got much less out of the shadowing material, but many others seem to like it, so I though I’d pass along the links I found.
Thank you, pgoonghang.
I think they would prefer that we not share pirated learning materials here. We just had this with the Genki CDs the other day.
Those youtube links seem particularly annoying too, because the person who is running that channel monetized them like crazy too. It’s like the people who put 500 ads on Game of Thrones OST uploads. We get it, it’s gonna get pirated, but trying to put 500 ads on it is just gross.
i love it. Thanks for your resources suggestion @pgoonghang
If you have the time and a lil bit of extra money. What I like to do sometimes is grab a tutor for like 30 mins from italki or a similar site and just run my mouth. If there are phrases I’m not sure about I’ll ask them or research them prior and try to weave em into conversation. I feel 30 is a good amount of time to start, Its not so long that its overwhelming and its not so short that you don’t benefit. Its the most bang for your buck
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