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Additional listening practice?

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Super Polyglot
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 Message 9 of 17
18 August 2009 at 10:23am | IP Logged 
Diotem wrote:
...I will hear 1 sentence where I know every single word and register 0. I can pick out each and every syllable, but because it was spoken instead of written, I have no idea if those form words until 5 minutes after the person is done talking.

Let me understand this: you can pick out every syllable, but they don't combine into words? Not even if you actually know the words?

When I ask this it is because one reason for being unable to understand spoken words from f.eks. TV is that people are obsessed with understanding what is being said, when the basic problem may be that they can't even parse the stream of sounds. Parsing is precisely the process of dividing the stream of sounds into syllables and words on the fly, and to understand this you must be able to perform the operation automatically. If you try to understand everything at this stage then each unknown word will block you, and you will loose the next couple of sentences. Therefore 'listening like a bloodhound follows a trail' can sometimes be a help, even though it goes right against all the other good advice about listening to films, music etc.

However this only applies if your parsing isn't automatic, and therefore it is a problem that you say that you can catch the syllables, but not the words on the fly. But even in this situation it might be worth trying to separate the words without bothering about the meaning (even though this sounds crazy to many people). If you in fact can do this operation without problems then at least one possible cause for your problems can be eliminated.

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 Message 10 of 17
18 August 2009 at 6:48pm | IP Logged 
I second the recommendation. Even without using the dictation tool(which I recommend in your situation) there's such aa variety of basic-intermediate sentences you can listen to and read. After you've improved you listening skills a little, you should also try reading and listening to simple texts like children's stories. Basically, stuff you can both read and listen to and stuff you can repeat. It should work better than music and tv.
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 Message 11 of 17
19 August 2009 at 12:35am | IP Logged 
Children stories are fun. I don't know why but I find あかずきんちゃん a little bit easier than the Beatrix Potter Stories in Japanese.

Beatrix Potter has transcripts, so that's a plus.
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 Message 12 of 17
30 August 2009 at 7:04am | IP Logged 
Hi, first post - I really hope this thread isn't too old for me to post on.

I find listening to Japanese podcasts - in Japanese, designed for Japanese speakers - really helps. My absolute favorite is a little's called ふぁんた時間, and it's like a children's story hour sort of thing. The stories are easy to understand and, just as importantly, entertaining. (I promise it won't make you roll your eyes.) If you have iTunes, go the Store main page, scroll to the bottom, and change your location/language to Japan(ese). You have a plethora of categories to chose from, with all sorts of speaking - comedy, politics, etc. Once again, I highly recommend checking out the Kids/Family section. ふぁんた時間 should be one of the first results.

Good luck!

Edited by inktree on 30 August 2009 at 7:08am

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 Message 13 of 17
02 September 2009 at 2:06pm | IP Logged 
I have problems with listening too. It takes me thirty minutes to walk to work each day. So, I listen to my iPod listening exercises on Assimil. Assimil is great for two reasons. Firstly, it is ONLY in your target language, so you don't suddenly get English voices bursting in sayin g"Now do the exercises" lol. This means you can listen to it for ages. Also, the dialogues are pretty easy, so use words you will hear all the time.
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 Message 14 of 17
02 September 2009 at 9:17pm | IP Logged 
Diotem wrote:
When I say no ability, I mean I will hear 1 sentence where I know every single word and register 0.

You need lots of listening to text that you understand and read along with. Unfortunately, in many languages, there isn't nearly enough of such material available. It is especially difficult to find such material that you personally find interesting.

You say your reading and understanding is good. I think what would really help you at this stage is high-quality text-to-speech software. I know the purists will object. However, the TTS software is getting so good (in some languages) that it is almost indistinguishable from actual speech. An example is the UK English voice Peter by Acapela. I find NextUp TextAloud to be a very good TTS utility in which to use these voices.

With a high-quality TTS voice, you can listen along to your favourite and most interesting text (news, science, web pages, etc.). You can do it any time with almost any material. The software usually has a clipboard function that reads whatever you highlight and copy to the clipboard. With Firefox, you can get the add-on AutoCopy that copies whatever you highlight to the clipboard. Words, sentences, paragraphs, whole pages. If you have a lot of text material, the software can convert it directly into mp3 at 20 times normal speed. So you could for example take a Gutenburg book and read it all into mp3 files. Of course, there are more and more such books being recorded by native speakers and available online. This is obviously better than TTS if it is available. Try Librovox.

In any case, I find this technique to be very useful. I use Dutch Max from Acapela which I believe is currently the best Dutch voice available. Obviously, you will want to use the highest quality available. I don't know what that would be for Japanese. I also use UK Peter and Dutch Max to read parallel text to mp3. That is surprisingly easy to do in TextAloud.

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 Message 15 of 17
03 September 2009 at 11:33am | IP Logged 
cathrynm wrote:
I'm getting frustrated with Jpod101 because I think maybe it has too much English. I put a few on my iPhone and listened repeatedly, but I found myself memorizing the English, which I think is not what I want.

The audioblogs on Jpod101 are Japanese-only (minus the ad at the start and end, which I strip out for repeat listening). Some of the audioblog podcasts (a select few from the later ones in Season 1) even have an additional all-Japanese discussion after the actual audioblog "entry".

For the other podcast levels, I usually just strip out the dialog with Audacity after I've listened to the podcast once. When I feel like it, I listen to these Japanese-only dialogs on shuffle repeat on my mp3 player.

Also, ふぁんた時間 (mentioned by inktree above) can be accessed without going through iTunes:

The links to the text for each reading are especially helpful. It's basically like a bunch of short junior audiobooks. And with the Rikaichan plug-in installed with Firefox, it's pretty easy to "look up" any words you don't know.

Diotem --
Have you tried listening to the same thing more than once? Does it get better the second time around? Sometimes I listen to the same piece of [enjoyable] audio several times. It's usually something that's too fast for me to understand the first run through. I don't pause between repeats, but I do find that I understand more and more of the audio each time.

Edited by melitu on 03 September 2009 at 11:38am

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 Message 16 of 17
04 September 2009 at 12:11am | IP Logged 
I would say try It has helped me a ton on my Spanish listening, reading, and vocabulary building. They just made an up date on Japanese away from beta, so it should be better to read right now. They have a bunch of content you could use that has text with audio.

Just a suggestion my friend.

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