Listening and Immersion Really Work

Hello Dear Readers,

I started this personal project almost two months ago to improve my Japanese language listening skills before I go to Japan in July.  Listening has always been my biggest challenge in Japanese language learning, and it’s something I really wanted to tackle this year.

So, following advice from Khatzumoto, I decided to really go all-in this time.  I subscribed to a great podcast channel called ネッポン放送 (Japan Broadcasting), downloaded a ton of podcasts and just let them run in the background while I do other things.

At work, bus, doing dishes, etc., I try to keep podcasts running in the background whenever I have free time. When my iPhone earbuds broke I had to start using my big, bulkier old headphones.

Anyhow, to my surprise, I have stuck with it so far. I figured I would get tired and stop listening after 3 days: the proverbial “3-day monk” (三日坊主). But the podcasts are interesting enough, and relevant enough, that I’ve stuck with it for 7+ weeks. Now I know some of the main hosts, and feel more “plugged in” to the shows than when I first got started.

Also, I made a point to forgive myself when I have busy days and can’t listen much. The goal wasn’t to listen to Japanese for X hours a day, the goal is to listen whenever I have free time.

My listening skills aren’t great; some podcasts, especially politics and business, are pretty hard to follow along. Sometimes I can naturally follow along a conversation, and sometimes I have almost no idea what’s going on. But slowly, gradually the “gaps” where I can’t understand the conversation are getting smaller while the parts I can follow along are getting bigger. It’s very gradual, but it’s very rewarding to see it’s working.

There’s no secret here: just create an environment for learning and being patient, forgiving to yourself, flexible and having a clear goal (Japan trip in this case).


Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

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