Desperate for help...any advice to give?!

Hey :wave:t4: anyone who reads this. I am Mikey. I am new to the Bunpro community. I have only been using this app for around several months. I learned of it from a fellow test taker I met this past December when I took the N5 test, which I passed. I thought I failed the listening comprehension portion, so I was definitely excited.

Now six months later, currently self-studying for the N4; however, I have been feeling my studies are plateau’ing. I study for up to 3-4hrs every day after work absorbing a lot of information with Bunpro & Wanikani. I create study sheets for each grammar point on Bunpro along with random sentences to reiterate grammar points/vocabulary old & new. What is missing is a way to increase my speaking and listening skills. I don’t know the people or have the spaces to help with my Japanese, and with listening comprehension as my most lacking aspect, I need as much advice as anyone can provide.

This has been a perilous journey for me spanning well over 10yrs. I started studying Japanese in 2010, but life took me off course until 2022. I have been alone through it all. I am lost as to what is the best course of action for someone in my situation. Where other resources are there that do I not know of? Any information anyone can provide to help or if there is anyone willing to assist in my speaking and listening comprehension feel free to let me know! I have been off track for so long and I don’t want to fail at this any longer.

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Go to YouTube and type in “JLPT N4 Listening Practice” and go through those videos. Can’t speak for the quality of them but they’re probably a really good start. If you can find the Minna no Nihongo Chuukyuu (みんなの日本語中級) audio/videos this will also be helpful.

Secondly, if you’ve gone through most of the N4 grammar and vocab already, then you’re at a level where you really want to start taking the training wheels off and listening to some easy native material. It will be difficult and you won’t understand all of it. Maybe you won’t even understand most of it. This is fine. Highly recommend the anime Shirokuma Cafe with the subtitles turned off, you can turn them on after you finish an episode to check your comprehension.

There are podcasts too made by native speakers for people to practice listening.

I believe NHK News Easy also has videos in addition to their written articles. Good stuff over there as well.

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Welcome to the community :tada: and nice pfp :smirk:

There’s lots of helpful people here who will no doubt give you detailed advice. So I’ll just give you one thing that helped me. Podcasts. I hated them at first. Had it playing in the background driving me crazy because I couldn’t catch any words anyway. I stopped using podcasts for a while but got back into them around halfway through n4. You can look online for more recommendations but I can vouch for Nihongo Con Teppei for beginners. Teppei has a lot of different ones going, but you’ll want the ‘for beginners’ one, it’s about 5 mins long each. If it’s still too fast, most podcast apps you’ll find it on can slow down the speed (or speed up). I listened to all 1k+ of the beginners. But I noticed a huge jump in my listening ability during the second month at around 2-300ep in. Used it as a nice stepping stone into harder podcasts with more interesting topics/depth.

I’m also following along an audiobook with the book, but its a lil different compared to conversational styles and was waaaay over my head when I first tried it with zero listening practice logged ahaa

TLDR
The only way to improve listening is by listening. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll adjust and adapt (granted you have some sort of foundation), even if it seems like you’re getting nowhere just keep at it. I personally recommend podcasts, but I can understand it’s not for everyone

Someone put together a list ranking popular Japanese learner podcasts in terms of difficulty 100+ podcasts
The list links them to Spotify, but you’ll likely find them on most other platforms to by searching the titles

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You can also try “Tagood Japanese”. You can see two people speaking, and you can see their faces. The furigana are above the kanji.

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I love Shirokuma Cafe. Also +1 for the tip to look for “graded” listening practice, there is a ton of it on YouTube. I also speak Spanish fluently, and the comprehensible input method at least will greatly help to improve your listening comprehension. Check out their page, not to learn Spanish, obviously, but to understand their method: https://www.dreamingspanish.com/method

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皆さん、たくさんいい助言を話してくれてありがとうございます。今まで知らなかったことがあります。日本語翻訳は未来のキャリアだから、日本語能力が上達したいです。

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I’ll be very frank with you since most people here are just going to direct you to Youtube, books, or other websites. I think you’re smart enough to know where to find listening resources because they are extremely easy to find. These days, you can be listening to Japanese and speaking to a Japanese person within seconds. I’m sure you’re very will aware of that.

You mentioned that you don’t want to keep failing a this. That indicates to me that what you’re really afraid of is failure, and that’s preventing you from taking that next step in your learning. I’ve seen this happen all too often, especially with those that have been studying for a very long time or have gone long stretches without studying.

Truth is that you have to embrace failure a bit, and try to have fun with what you do know in Japanese. I myself have at times been in study loops for months on end without doing much listening input and speaking which is the wrong way to go about it, and I’m glad you’re aware of this as well.

As far as not having people to study with, that can be a strain on your mental health. Doing something that is meant to allow you to broaden your communication with millions more people around the world all by yourself, while not uncommon can be really rough on one in the long run. If you can’t find anyone locally, there is always online. If you really want to meet people locally, put flyers on college message boards, in Japanese grocery stores, in anime stores, or even at conventions. I personally met the most recent group at a convention, and we’ve grown to about 50 members in less than a year. You’ll be surprised how many people actually want to be part of a local community, including Japanese people.

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search up the English language exchange discord and join it. There are conversation channels for native and beginner speakers. You can also join the Moe way discord. The Moe way have people as well but it is a smaller community.

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to add to this, if you’re looking for language exchange groups, search for them using Japanese. You’re more likely to find ones filled with japanese people rather than 89 gaijin and one poor japanese guy trying to help everyone.

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The feeling of plateauing is super natural as you work towards an intermediate level. While I was at that stage I started to listen to a really great podcast (nihongo con teppei) which I’d say is perfect for that level as you definitely start to see those N4 grammar points pop up in ways that make sense and really build your intuition for the language.

These days I’ve moved onto YuYu no Nihongo podcast to get a feel for conversations between two people and that’s been pretty good for my progression.

Honestly I don’t think that cramming 4hrs of grammar and kanji every day and focusing on JLPT is the solution and I think many others would agree. Slow down and try to find native content that matches your ability. You’ll start to have those eureka moments of “ohhh you can use it like that!” very quickly and its extremely motivating.

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