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Listening Comprehension Issues

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Listening Comprehension Issues

Postby hamsterfreak4evr » Sun 06.15.2008 9:39 pm

Hey, everyone!
I don't know if its just me, and I certainly hope its not, but whenever i watch childrens shows like Doraemon or whatever, i can't understand a word theyre saying!
I know doraemons voice is kind of weird and scratchy, but this also happens when i watch movies and dramas.
even if i play attention, a lot of the times i just hear what sounds like slurred syllables and cant understand what theyre saying like 90 percent of the time, despite me knowing plenty of Japanese (I'm entering level 4 of Japanese class this fall at my high school).
I was wondering if anyone else had this problem when learning Japanese, and how they pushed through it.
Am I merely not listening to enough Japanese?
I'm going there for 5 weeks on a school trip a week from tomorrow so I don't want to look stupid!!
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Re: Listening Comprehension Issues

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sun 06.15.2008 9:52 pm

This is a common problem; I obviously don't know why you, in particular, are having these problems, but these are some common reasons:

1) Not enough practice on quickly comprehending Japanese (i.e. too much focus on slow decoding or vague understanding through deciphering kanji meanings, etc.) -- if you have to read a sentence multiple times to understand it, obviously you won't understand that sentence spoken aloud.
2) Not enough listening comprehension practice, or bad listening comprehension practice (i.e. listening while reading a script, or listening to slowly spoken Japanese)
3) Too much slang or colloquial language that you haven't learned

One thing you have to remember is that authentic language is much harder than what appears in most textbooks; some people believe that "intended for children" is equivalent to "suitable for beginners", but this is not true at all. Even 5 or 6 year old children have huge vocabularies and have more or less mastered the grammar of their native language. Also, a lot of kids' programming has a lot of fantasy or magical elements and a lot of vocabulary that you're not going to see in textbooks.

As for what to do, I'm not sure. I couldn't understand Japanese television until after I lived in Japan for 2 years.
Last edited by Yudan Taiteki on Sun 06.15.2008 9:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Listening Comprehension Issues

Postby hamsterfreak4evr » Sun 06.15.2008 9:55 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:One thing you have to remember is that authentic language is much harder than what appears in most textbooks; some people believe that "intended for children" is equivalent to "suitable for beginners", but this is not true at all. Even 5 or 6 year old children have huge vocabularies and have more or less mastered the grammar of their native language. Also, a lot of kids' programming has a lot of fantasy or magical elements and a lot of vocabulary that you're not going to see in textbooks.


This is a good point I didnt consider. If so, what do you think would be a good way to improve listening comprehension?
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Re: Listening Comprehension Issues

Postby Wakannai » Sun 06.15.2008 10:10 pm

listen to programs that speak like your textbook is the best at first, then branch out to other stuff.

Listening to your opening dialogs of your textbook until you implicitly understand them is good. As Chris said, listening to Japanese while reading translations is bad, but if you can school yourself to ignore the writing, then you can listen, then hit pause and maybe backpedal if necessary to check your understanding, and repeat.

Listening to stuff repeatedly is also good. Don't consider everything all-or-nothing. Listen again and again to stuff, even if you already know it, improves your ear's familiarity and helps your comprehension elsewhere.

Working on your active vocabulary and your own speaking improves your aural comprehension. If you are watching a dorama or some other show, try acting out the parts, mimicking not only the words spoken as precisely as possible, but the emotions as well.
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Re: Listening Comprehension Issues

Postby chikara » Mon 06.16.2008 12:00 am

Yudan Taiteki wrote:..... I couldn't understand Japanese television until after I lived in Japan for 2 years.

That makes me feel a little better. I suck at listening comprehension :oops:
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Re: Listening Comprehension Issues

Postby Oracle » Mon 06.16.2008 12:10 am

Developing the ability to fully comprehend native-level speed Japanese takes a long time (even anime aimed at Japanese kids, because there are grammar structures and idioms in there which beginning foreigner learners won't know).It requires a critical mass of vocabulary and grammar, plus simply getting used to hearing the language so you can apply that vocab + grammar knowledge fast enough to extract meaning. Learning to do that so you're keeping up with real conversation ( + some having the mental 'bandwith' to spare so you can also reply :) ) takes many years.

My advice when trying to develop listening comprehension skills is to just listen to as much Japanese as you can as often as you can, so you're training your brain to connect the sounds directly with the meanings, without thinking of the words as 'written' things (which is what ends up happening due to the reading/writing centric approach of most teaching methods - in my opinion/experience anyway).

EDIT: Our lecturer at university made us do *a lot* of transcription excercises of native Japanese audio materials. It's only when you have to write down what you hear and compare it to the original that you realise how good your brain is at making up bits to fill in the parts it doesn't quite hear/comprehend.
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Re: Listening Comprehension Issues

Postby furrykef » Mon 06.16.2008 2:14 pm

I'm not advanced enough in Japanese to even think about watching Japanese-language TV, but I have the same problem with the Spanish language. I need closed captioning just to be able to understand what's being said... but perhaps if I keep watching TV with closed captioning, I'll start to get it. (The only problem is, there's nothing on TV I want to watch, so I might not get to test this theory.) So if closed captioning or subtitles are available in kana or romaji, I'd recommend trying that. If they use kanji, the task may be considerably more difficult unless you're used to reading kanji quickly, since your brain has to do extra processing to correlate the written text with the spoken dialogue.

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Re: Listening Comprehension Issues

Postby ss » Mon 06.16.2008 6:51 pm

Chikara wrote:
That makes me feel a little better. I suck at listening comprehension :oops:


I have great interest in listening practice too, but simply unskilled at it. :/

Oracle wrote:
EDIT: Our lecturer at university made us do *a lot* of transcription excercises of native Japanese audio materials. It's only when you have to write down what you hear and compare it to the original that you realise how good your brain is at making up bits to fill in the parts it doesn't quite hear/comprehend.


Oracle-san, thanks for sharing your experience. I can imagine that, the ability to fully comprehend native-level speed requires many years of on-going study. Sometimes, it's not that hard to pick up compound words, but to join them up and make sense out of it is really a big challenge for me.

I think this is indeed one of the best methods to practise listening comprehension. It’s a pity we can’t continue the listening practice here in TJP, copyright is still a big issue as far as I know.
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Re: Listening Comprehension Issues

Postby hamsterfreak4evr » Mon 06.16.2008 7:22 pm

thank you all for your input, it makes me feel a lot better to know that im not the only one struggling here with that (listening comprehension is probably the most difficult for me, if not many people). hopefully going to japan will change this and i plan on watching A LOT of Japanese things on youtube before i leave!!

edit: i do feel, however, that it is much easier to comprehend languages grammatically similar to english earlier on in the learning process. for instance, ive been studying chinese for 1 year vs japanese for 2 1/2, and i can comprehend much more spoken chinese on the spot despite me knowing much for japanese vocab and grammar.
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