"I've been studying the cultures of Asia for many years, and I'm very attracted to the culture of Japan, in particular to the impact that Zen has had on the Japanese mind and spirit." -John McLaughlin 

Studying a distinct culture that is not your own is something that can be done for an entire lifetime, and there will still be questions that remain unanswered. Why? There are so many layers, unique eccentricities, and subcultures that change depending on the region and over time.

The same can be said about acquiring fluency in a foreign language; it can be studied for years and years and still leave learners with the exciting prospect that a new concept can be discovered.

So, whichever second, third, or fourth language you choose to study, you need to expect that learning it is an everlasting process. 

Should that discourage you? Absolutely not! The fact that languages are so complex makes them even more enjoyable. And, knowing that something unique can be acquired makes the experience a complete thrill ride.

Now it's time to cut the rambling on about the intrigue of languages and provide you, our reader, with some exciting information about how Japanese learners can practice their listening skills on the daily. Are you ready for brilliant and thoughtful tips? We sure hope so!

Frequently Listen to Japanese Music

While K-Pop and top bands like BTS from Korea dominate the world of music right now, there is something to be said about Japanese music groups and artists.

listening to podcasts
Listening to Japanese songs is a great way to improve skills. (Source: Unsplash)

Although still a little underrated on the world stage, various Japanese rock bands have created banging tunes in the past few decades. Such as? The following are some of the most well-known music bands/artists from Japan:

  • AKB48, 
  • B'z, 
  • Mr Children, 
  • Southern All Stars, 
  • Radwimps, 
  • L'Arc en Ciel,
  • Glay, 
  • Show-Ya.

The previously mentioned groups have enjoyed a lot of success in Japan and other parts of Asia. But why are we talking about Japanese music bands? Well, to learn a new language and hone comprehension skills, it is highly recommended to spend time listening to music in the language you are striving to acquire fluency.

When listening to music in Japanese, learners pick up on new aspects of vocabulary, distinct accents, specific expressions, and slang that are unique to Japan and essential for honing comprehension skills. 

Also, it is essential to state that if you do not understand some of the words being sung, writing them down and looking them up in a dictionary at a later time to fully improve your vocabulary which will contribute to better listening skills in the future.

Therefore, please do listen to some of the top hits from the bands mentioned above; you won't regret it because you'll learn Japanese more quickly and feel more immersed in the culture.

Find Informative Japanese Youtube Channels

What in the world did we do before Youtube? Well, Generation Z has never had to worry about that because it has been prevalent since their early formative years. Nonetheless, other modern generations such as Millennials and Generation X know what it's like to not have Youtube in their life and boy are they thankful to currently have it!

There are so many pointless and mind-numbing videos that can be watched on Youtube for hours. 

Youtube is so addictive that many workplaces have blocked the site on employees computers to improve productivity. And, while it seems that we are slightly bashing Youtube, it is one of my favourite websites, and it has helped me learn so many beautiful things that I didn't know before.

Truthfully, Youtube is a godsend when learning complex concepts such as a foreign language like Japanese. Therefore, without any further ado, the following are some of the best Youtube channels to practice listening skills in Japanese:

  • JapanesePod101: a well known Youtube channel "chain" that helps learners acquire the basics of many languages such as Chinese, Italian, French, Thai, and, of course, Japanese. The host of JapanesePod101 is named Risa, and she makes learning new concepts entertaining. Videos are incredibly well-produced and touch on topics such as "Learn All Hiragana in 1 Hour" and "6 Japanese Words That Are Impossible to Translate."
  • Yuu Asakura: as a Japanese native living in Los Angeles, Yuu Asakura makes entertaining Japanese videos for beginners and intermediate students. Some of the topics covered on her channel include, "How to Say Hello in Japanese" and "How to Apologise in Japanese." An intriguing feature of Yuu's track is her discussions about the accent difference between Osaka and Tokyo. The Japanese learning videos with Yuu last between 25-30 minutes.

So, to make learning Japanese more entertaining and to get an ear for the language, please find a Youtube channel that works for you!

Listen to Japanese Podcasts

With current estimates showing that there are over one million different podcasts available and more than 30 million episodes as of April 2020, you are bound to find a podcast that will help you effectively learn Japanese.

take the mic
Listen to podcasts on the tube to improve Japanese comprehension skills today. (Source: Unsplash)

The following are some of the most highly recommended Japanese podcasts available for language learners:

  • News in Slow Japanese: the name speaks for itself, News in Slow Japanese is a brilliant podcast for Japanese learners who want to learn slow, precise, and clear Japanese. Learners hone their listening and comprehension skills by using this enjoyable podcast which keeps you up to date on world events!
  • Japanese LingQ: the LingQ podcasts cover a wide range of topics and subjects such as interviews, features, and audiobook excerpts. All of the conversations are in real Japanese, which help students attune their ear to natives speaking in the usual way.

So, before your next commute on the Tube, download a new podcast that features Japanese conversations and listen, you'll be surprised at how much you can learn.

Watch Netflix With the Purpose of Learning

Do you love to binge-watch the same series over and over again? Well, if you do, you're certainly not the only one! But, what about using your favourite to acquire an understanding of a foreign tongue such as Japanese? Count me in!

Therefore, next time you watch your fav show on Netflix, so probably tonight, slightly change your routine by using subtitles in Japanese. Also, another helpful thing that can be done is to watch the show in Japanese and add English subtitles to comprehend what is being said.

By using subtitles, you acquire not only comprehension skills, but also vocabulary, reading, speaking, and writing abilities. 

Also, it is essential to mention that there is a beautiful Chrome extension tool known as Learning With Netflix that allegedly gives you superpowers over Netflix by making studying languages with films and TV series more entertaining. How is it done?

By downloading the extension onto Google Chrome, users can watch Netflix with subtitles in their mother tongue and the language they are learning at their own pace and select specific words to be provided with a definition of the vocabulary. You can easily pause and stop the show whenever you want to keep learning.

Learning With Netflix provides learners with everyday dialogue that is spoken by native speakers and dramatically helps students improve their listening skills in a foreign tongue such as Japanese. Add it to your browser ASAP to learn Japanese like a pro!

Hire a Professional and Native Tutor

hire an instructor
Having a native Japanese tutor is a great idea in so many unique ways. (Source: Unsplash)

What better way to practice Japanese comprehension skills than spending an hour, or more, listening to your native Japanese tutor a few times per week? The idea of hiring a professional tutor is even more greatly suggested for those who are studying Japanese outside the land of the rising sun and in countries such as the UK where there are not too many Japanese immigrants.

The following are some unique ways in which having a native Japanese tutor will improve your listening skills:

  • Regularly hear the nuances of the Japanese language and understand that each area of Japan has its unique accent,
  • Learn more about expressions, idioms, and slang that non-native tutors aren't familiar with,
  • Correct your speaking skills after listening to how your Japanese instructor pronounces words.

But where does one find a native Japanese tutor near their place of residence in the United Kingdom? Easy, Superprof! With over 12 million tutors teaching more than 1000 topics ranging from Japanese to rock climbing, Superprof's private tutor community is the bomb dot com!

According to the Superprof website, there are currently 45 active native Japanese tutors offering their services via online lessons. Their prices range from £10-45 per hour greatly depending on years of experience, accreditation, etc. Also, want to know the best part? Most tutors on the Superprof domain offer their first class for free so that you can shop around for the right tutor to ensure that you find a teacher you connect with; I don't know about you, but I'm sold!

In conclusion, although learning Japanese and acquiring fluency is no walk in the park, it is possible and worth all efforts. Why? Because learning a new language opens doors that were previously sealed shut. Follow the advice in today's article, and you'll be able to comprehend Japanese in no time; you're a better listener than you think!

Want to become a better reader of the Japanese language? Click this link to find out more!

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A student by trade, Daniel spends most of his time working on that essay that's due in a couple of days' time. When he's not working, he can be found working on his salsa steps, or in bed.