Struggling with listening

I am having some issues with listening. I’ve been working on improving my listening skills and I feel like I’m making progress. I am able to recognise more of what is being said, as in making out and registering words, but I am having trouble connecting the Japanese word with the English meaning.

I.e. I will be listening to some Japanese and register that I have heard a word that I know but I cannot recall the meaning.

Is this a lack of practice to do with listening or an issue surrounding my basic understanding of the vocab itself. Thank you in advance for any advice.

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Practice resolves everything, pretty much. In the meantime, is there a way to do something like add subtitles, slow the audio to 85-90% speed, etc? Those things can help smooth the transition.

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Listening just takes time. You have to put in a lot practice. At the moment I’m doing AJATT style constant listening. I have Japanese audio playing on my mp3 player constantly. I’ve been doing this for about 3 weeks and I’m beginning to pick up more and more. I did something similar with other languages I learned and the results were impressive. I also do active listening with sentences about half and hour to 45mins daily. Doing both active and passive listening is important.

The difference between listening and reading is that obviously with listening you have to catch things as they fly by. Don’t worry too much. Just keep at it every day and the results will come.


I never really though about slowing down the audio before, that would definitely work for stuff like youtube videos. Thank you!

Thank you! Have you got any recommendations as to what I can listen to?

Yup. Rip the audio from animes you’ve already seen and know what’s going on. Audio books that you’ve already read.

This youtube channel has tons of audio you can rip. There’s a lot of downloadable podcasts in Japanese if you search for them.

Read this website. It’s full of cool tips for learning Japanese immersion style.

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Thank you very much!

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Listening is taking me a long time. I’ve listened to maybe 100-200 episodes of japanesepod101 (often 2 or 3 times each) and I still need more practice. It also made me realize that I’m pretty dependent on kanji to recognize words. If words I know in kanji are written in hiragana, I have a much harder time recognizing them.

In the end, learning a language means learning many different ways to reach the same information. Whether you’re learning to see a kanji and think “cat”, to see some hiragana and think “cat”, or hear a sound and think “cat”, each thing needs to be memorized and practiced.

4 Likes has some nice features for listening and reading practice. Basically, it’s anime with subtitles (Kanji, hiragana, romaji, and English, each optionally selectable) that you can pause, play one sentence at a time, change playback speed, etc. There are also some study features.


For active listening with sentences, do you watch videos with Japanese subtitles?

Seconding what everyone said about slowing down the speed, and also adding something new: concentrate on learning vocabulary and applying what you know to practical sentences. This means not just listening to your favorite programs or other people speaking, but also speaking yourself. Your brain won’t connect meanings as rapidly if you do only one or the other! You mentioned that you’re having difficulty connecting the Japanese word and its English meaning, but I encourage you to try not to think about language acquisition as translation. Instead, try associating images of things with the Japanese words - this helps your brain jump over the extra step of translating things to English, and then to their actual meaning. I hope that helps a little. :slight_smile:


Oh wow. I was looking for something like this. My listening skills are very poor and my speaking skills are even worse. Lots of Japanese people have started to move here recently and I wish I could conversate with them. But each time I get the opportunity I chicken out cause I don’t want to embarrass myself. I feel like this will be an incredible resource for months to come!!

By the way, is there something like this for more dry stuff like podcasts, news reports, drama, or even vlogs?

Not that I’m aware of.

I’ll add to the already good recommendations the method I use. This one. It’s basically a mix that allows you to get full revenues of the shows you watch already, by using Anki and a handy plugin. First I watch the show with JP subs (which is my hardcore comprehension test), then english subs (the part where I actually get how far I was from the actual content of the show). Then that show goes into the whole Anki routine and every sentence gets an audio card where I can clearly listen to the sentences over and over, then see the actual sentence in japanese and only at the end I get to see the translated line in english.

I consider this routine great for reviewing sentences from shows you are familiarized already and spoon feed you the content it’s not yet familiar, using the whole motivation mindset of understanding something you are really aiming to consume (it’s not this why we’re learning japanese in the first place? :yum: ) . Then you could do the passive version of this AJATT style , and rip the audio of the show for listening while doing idle activities, which has benefits on it’s own too.

All in all, I found this way you can integrate listening to the whole vocab and grammar routine :ok_hand: and why not make learning more related to the actual content you’re striving to enjoy :slightly_smiling_face:


@BassGriff Exactly my point. I was doing the textbook CD listening practice prior to this. And the mindset was… getting over with it… answering the questions they ask from me in the textbook and I’m done (I didn’t care much about whatever Mary and Takeshi were doing tbh :joy: )
But with the way I’m doing things now, I care to actually understand, as this are the characters from the show I’m watching, and the words will come out again and the phrasing in which the tell them will repeat too, so there’s the reward of understanding more, wether to sometimes get the nuances that are missed in the translation or simply the fact that I’m able to understand a bit more of the whole plot of every episode as I do it.

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Does anyone have any advice about listening and completely burning out? I started listening to my textbook cds on the way and back from work, trying podcasts. I found that it really burned me out and I’d stop studying for weeks after getting tired of getting now where. Listening has got to be the most frustrating skill and it really affects my motivation.

Wow thank you, i will definitely be using this. Thank you so much for the help!

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Lol! Somebody’s used Genki too! Hahaha!

My big problem is when I’m in a real life situation, I’ve got this ‘a cat in headlights’ face (unintentionally oobviously! Hahaha). Also the problem for me is I really don’t care for anime, and when I do I want to enjoy them rather than them being a chore. I think I’m gonna listen to everyone’s advice and give it another go. I’m probably trying to take on too much and need to spread to load, do little bits everyday and not expect miracles. And to be honest I’ve just finished Genki 1 so I’m still in the beginner phase.

Thank you :smiley:

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