How to Improve Your Japanese Listening Comprehension Skills – Tips

Mastering a language is a slow and gradual process. you have to be able to read, write listen and speak in the language to become fluent. Each skill is equally important and requires years of consistent effort to develop. Out of these 4 skills, learners often say that Japanese listening is the most difficult skill to improve.
In this article, we will introduce to you some good ways to improve your Japanese listening.

Why Japanese Listening is both difficult and fun!

To many Japanese learners, listening is a big challenge. Native Japanese speak at a fast rate of speed – much quicker than the audio examples that are given in most Japanese learning textbooks.  Native Japanese speakers also may use long sentences with complex grammar.  They also mix dictionary and casual forms.
For a learner that is usually only exposed to listening practice through dialogues in their textbook – this type of natural Japanese can be hard to understand.
Some people may think that this is difficult because they don’t have the time to dedicate to it.  This is true – but if you surround yourself with opportunities – improving your listening practice can be really fun.  The more you listen – the easier it becomes to understand, so as time goes on – your listening practice will become more and more enjoyable!

Watch Japanese YouTube Channels

YouTube has been expanding rapidly in Japan in recent years. Talented YouTubers have launched channels that cover a wide range of interesting topics – making Japanese youtube quite fun to watch. You can always find a Japanese YouTube Channel with videos that match your specific interests. As most Japanese YouTubers speak in Japanese at native speed with colloquial speech, your ears will get trained as you enjoy the videos. Don’t worry if you can’t understand everything they say, you will figure out the meanings of words you did not understand as you watch as time goes on and you study kanji and vocabulary. If you do not know which channel to watch, here is a list of the Top 10 popular Japanese YouTube Channels.

Top 10 Popular Japanese Youtube Channels by July 2019

Channels Category Subscriber
はじめしゃちょー (hajime) Experiments & Pranks 8.06 M
HikakinTV Experiments & Pranks
7.52 M
Fischer’s-フィッシャズ- Experiments & Pranks 5.66 M
Yuka Kinoshita Food 5.29 M
avex Music 4.82 M
東海オンエア Experiments & Pranks 4.63 M
HikakinGames Games 4.28 M
SUSHI RAMEN【Riku】 Experiments & Pranks 4.24 M
JunsKitchen Pets
4.05 M
MTV Tokyo fried rice Guys Experiments & Pranks 4.02 M

Of course, you can also watch Japanese tutorials on YouTube. There are many good YouTube Channels for Japanese learning. For intermediate learners, the channel we recommend is “日本語の森“. “You can find Japanese tutorials for grammar related to the N3 to N1 levels of the JLPT (taught in Japanese).
We would like to also recommend you our YouTube Channel Coto Japanese Academy. We upload interesting and unique Japanese tips that you can hardly learn from your textbook.

Watch Japanese Live Steams

ShowRoom Live Stream, image, picture, photo, illustration

ShowRoom Live Stream


Besides watching Japanese YouTube Channels, watching Japanese live streams is another interesting way to improve your listening. The largest live streaming platform in Japan is “SHOWROOM“. You can find a large number of live steamers under different categories such as celebrities, voice actors, comedians and many. By doing this, you will get to listen to native Japanese talking about things you like and interact with them through replying in the comments.

Watch Japanese Tv Shows Without Subtitles

Many people love to watch Japanese variety shows, drama, or anime. They help you get used to the ways natives speak and words they use.
Here is an example of how you can improve your Japanese with Terrace House(a Japanese reality show).

Most people watch them with subtitles and believe that it can help improve their listening skills. In fact, it produces little effect. As it is effortless to read the subtitles, they are just enjoying the story and not listening carefully to the Japanese language. As a result, to improve your listening, you should focus on listening to the Japanese without looking at the subtitle. You can do this by looking for resources without subtitles or block the subtitle with something while watching an English-Subbed Show. You will find it challenging at first for sure. However, you should understand that the whole point of the game is to get you used to what you could not. If you choose the easy way, your Japanese will not improve much.

Improving your Japanese listening takes time and consistent effort. Try these recommended ways in your free time and your listening will get better over time.

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