I have always considered the radio to be one of the best ways to improve one’s listening skills. People tend to speak at a natural speed and use expressions they would use in everyday life. I often listen to audiobooks too, but the reading speed of the speaker is much slower than real life conversation. Even if I can understand some audiobooks, I am totally lost when it comes to radio programs or Japanese people talking to each other.
If you take a look at the radio of Okinawa and go to the “streaming” page, try the first program “ゴールデンアワー”. They speak so fast!! 😮 Compared to the slow and peaceful stream of an audiobook… I take it as a challenge and a way to get out of my comfort zone in the hope that I will get better at listening to Japanese.
I like the program called スクリーンへの招待 because I can more or less understand it, and the contents interest me. The announcer reads film critics sent by listeners, it’s always short and simple. In fact, more than film critics, it’s more about the listener’s 感想・かんそう his or her feelings and impressions on the film.
This program is updated once a week, and the last shows can be accessed for free. It only lasts about 20 minutes, so it’s a good way to do a short session of Japanese listening.
Conclusion and further reflexions
Listening to ゴールデンアワー was very discouraging because they speak so fast I can’t follow. But the only way to get better is to get used to this kind of pace and immerse oneself in spoken Japanese.
Too often, learners stick to learning material which is spoken much too slowly and clearly and do not reflect how Japanese people actually speak. I think it’s a good thing to confront oneself with “real” Japanese, even if it is beyond one’s level.
I know that it works because I have experienced it with German. For all the languages I have learned, listening has always been the most difficult part. With German, however, it is the other way around, listening is almost the only thing that I can do properly now. The reason is that I found German sounds so beautiful that I listened to German a lot: the radio (the Deutsche Welle has incredibly good contents for learners), dramatized audiobooks (I have a lot of Sherlock Holmes adventures dramatized), series (I loved German so much I even watched Tatort, so you see…), songs, films… I was always listening to something in German, and I started the day I learned my very first words in German. Of course, in the beginning, I didn’t understand a thing, but it was like music to me, so I just listened. Naturally, my listening skills improved to that extent that I was soon able to watch a film without subtitles (when it is not always the case in English).
I don’t know if I will keep listening to Okinawa radio, but it is part of my working on listening strategies!