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Practice Japanese Listening: Strategies Using Online Listening Programs, Music, and Movies

written by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • edited by: Sarah Malburg • updated: 9/13/2013

As with any language, listening practice is an important aspect of language acquisition. Teachers can do Japanese listening practice through online programs, music and video.

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    When teaching Japanese, teachers need to ensure that students comprehend the language when they are reading, speaking and listening. Listening practice includes more than just listening and then responding to the teacher or other classmates. It exposes students to actual conversations between native Japanese speakers, differences in dialect and how people speak differently when they talk to a child, peer or adult. Teachers can make Japanese listening practice interesting by using different types of multimedia.

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    Online Listening Programs

    Several different websites offer Japanese listening practice, such as accompanying websites for textbooks and different universities with Japanese programs. Teachers should check to see if the textbook that their class uses has a website, which may provide listening exercises to accompany each lesson. The Genki Japanese textbooks, published by The Japan Times, has listening programs that go over hiragana, katakana, numbers, time and conversation.

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    One great way to practice Japanese listening skills is to listen to music. Do the students listen to any Japanese music? If they do, teachers can make a list of the students' favorite artists—this can get them more engaged in the lesson. For example, some of the students may like the group ARASHI. Teachers can choose a song, such as “サクラ咲ケ" and print out the lyrics. They then choose certain words in the lyrics to omit, such as words on this week's vocabulary list. Each student should receive a copy of the lyrics with the omitted words. Then as a class play the song, with the teachers asking students to listen and fill in the words that they hear. Play the song as many times as students need. Beginner students may need to listen to the song more often than advanced students. After listening to the song enough time, go over the missing words as a group. If the omitted words are vocabulary that the class is currently learning, make sure to go over it. Teachers should also explain any words that students may not know.

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    Another way to practice Japanese listening skills is to watch a video as a class. Examples include full-length movies, anime and TV shows. Teachers should find out if students are interested in a particular movie or show, as it may get them more interested in the listening exercise. When watching the video, turn off the subtitles, then watch the video together as a class. Teachers may need to repeat a segment of the video depending on the Japanese listening skill level of the class. After watching part of the tape, discuss what happened as a class. Teachers should go over any unknown vocabulary or sentence structure. After watching a full episode or a segment of a movie, students may fill out a couple of comprehension questions. Other options of testing comprehension after Japanese listening practice include having groups act out parts of the video or having students write what they think will happen next and explain why.