Help with building confidence with Listening

I’ve been learning Japanese now for about a year and a half now and overall I am happy with my progress.

Bunpro has been a great tool for me and has become one of the most vital parts of my study. So far I have completed both N5 and N4 but I am still having a lot of trouble with Listening. I believe I am still around N5 level for this but want to move to N4 (and later N3).

Does anyone have any recommendations on how to build my confidence with Listening. Any study methods; advice; shows; podcasts; audiobooks; etc. are welcome.


I really like either finding shows with Japanese subtitles (netflix has some, sadly not that many) or something like (I know it’s meant to practice reading, but they have audio for everything, so you could just listen to an article and later on check whether you heard correctly).

Also, just experience the language in general. There are several great japanese youtube channels posted over on the Recommended video of the day (or article) discussion. I’d suggest just subscribing to some of them (or find some others you enjoy) and try and follow along.

It might be a blur in the beginning, but very soon you’ll start to be able to pick apart the words and sentences. There are also several beginner podcasts on the internet, though that’s not something I use myself, I’ve heard good things about nihongo con teppei and I saw mention of a podcast called ‘Azumi’s Easy Japanese Small Talk’ ( on the learnjapanese subreddit about a week ago. Again, I don’t personally listen to podcasts, but they may be right for you.

A final thing you could use is beginner anime without subtitles. I’d recommend シロくまカフェ, Chi’s sweet home or みなみけ. They are all fun anime, basic grammar and vocabulary, so you can focus on listening.

Whatever you choose to do, best of luck, and remember, getting better at listening simply means listening more!


Something that may help. Find a movie or tv drama that you really really like in Japanese .
And watch it 2/3+ times. Watch it initially without (Japanese) subtitles if possible. To not read but to focus on listening.

I am sure over time, more will become clear as you get used to the sounds / voices.

Preferably whatever it is, it is set in present day Japan so that the movie/anime/podcast does not have weird grammar or way of speaking.

Edit: Find podcasts or videos on YouTube and put them as background music. Ie passive listening
Eg when doing house chores or walking somewhere. In my opinion it does help :slight_smile:


Wow! Thank you both for such fantastic responses. I’ll be sure to try them out. Wish me luck!!


I totally agree with the posts; great advice, i’m at a point where I’m struggling with audio as well.

Aside from シロくまカフェ, Chi’s sweet home or みなみけ, Netflix has “Rilakkuma and Kaoru”, (at least in Spain), I also suggest watching it again and again, What I do is first with japanese subtitles, get frustrated, watch with english subtitles, understand what’s going on, and then watch without subtitles. ドラえもん is also a very popular show here you might find in Netflix.

Repeat with the same episodes, and imitate outloud the words, sentences with the same intonation. Imitate the Bunpro sentences when they have audio, I even record some of them with the Echo app, and record myself right afterwards to get it to sound the same and rolls out fluently. After I have enough I listen to them and try to guess the meaning, or read the file name and try to say it in Japanese.


Initially I found things like cooking videos on youtube to be useful, there’s a lot which have stuff like 日常 or 簡単 in the title which are fairly low production value and much more plain spoken, they also typically have the person making the video describing what they’re doing which is usually slower paced an simpler than conversations between multiple people. They’re also a good way to listen to dialects if they interest you.


Hi again! since I read the post I’ve been looking into helping my listening, and I found this page thanks to Bunpro’s extra readings on one of the grammar points:
It’s going to be so useful for me, I’m studying N2 grammar but can barely make it through a N5 listening test without repeating the audios over and over!


I fake Netflix into thinking I’m in Japan by using a VPN service proxied through Tokyo. All the Japanese subtitles you could ever want. As an added bonus, you get a lot of Japanese content that is not available in the US – like all 20+ seasons of One Piece.


I’m pretty poor with listening too ;o; I’ve passed the N3 and still stumble when people speak N4 or lower often x’D

Just to add what everyone else has said so far, what I’ve been (trying, but failing x’D motivation is hard lol) to add to my regimen has been short listening “exercises”. It’s advice I saw online.

The idea is to pick a source to listen to. Something relatively short. (I think they recommended close to 10 minutes, but I’ve been using NHK Easy, so that’s been shorter.) Listen to it intently at least twice. (No text, no reading along, just listen.) On the third time, look up words you didn’t understand. Listen again. I then read along with the article on the fourth time. Then listen one last time without looking at it. So five times in total for me.

Even just on the second listen, I already catch myself hearing things I missed or filling in gaps. Do this enough over time (with any source, could be a YouTube vlog or something), and it gets easier. :slight_smile:


Also, this playlist might help:


Having a listening version (in addition to a reading version) for almost all of my flashcards for all of the vocabulary I learn dramatically improved my listening ability. It added listening drills to my daily study. In other words, for every new word (they are in a sentence) I learn, I have a digital flashcard that only has audio on the front and I just listen to the natural speed sentence and see if I can understand it or not. That made a really big difference compared to only having flashcards that test reading. There is a huge gap between knowing a word when you see it and knowing it when you hear it, especially if you know a lot of kanji.

Also, I would watch a bunch of random Japanese native material in a pretty ADHD unfocused way, like youtube videos or tiktok or anything and then I would later rip the audio from whatever I noticed my brain found most memorable or novel. The things I noticed myself replaying in my mind afterwards intermittently. So I’d take a scene from a show or a youtube video, and rip the audio, put it onto my phone and just listen to the audio many many times while doing other stuff like walking or whatever. You will find that as you listen to the same thing more and more, you will start to hear it more and more clearly like a blury picture slowly becoming sharper and higher resolution and some phrases or words will naturally be absorbed, your brain has a way of randomly latching onto particular things it finds novel for whatever reason. Have you ever found that after reading a book for a long time your brain keeps kind of narrating like a book sometimes afterwards? It’s good to have that type of experience in Japanese.


I love listening to the Japanese dub of Disney songs. Since I already know the rhythm and what the main meaning of the song is, I easily catch words that otherwise would have slipped by.
(Be warned, some of them can be a bit goofy)


How do you add the audio to your flash cards? Is there a particular deck you have downloaded, or is this something you did yourself?

There are a few different ways I know of. One popular way is to use something called Subs2SRS. I’m not sure if you know about Anki or that program so I’m not sure how much detail I need to that explain in. Basically it can rip sentences (from subtitle files) and audio from video files like movies or TV shows to automatically make flash cards. A lot of premade vocabulary flashcard decks for example the Core 2k/6k/10k decks and the decks based on the Hajimete Nihongo vocabulary books have native audio for each word and sentence provided. There are also some websites/tools that can give you native audio for any word, but not for entire sentences. For entire sentences you can also use machine generated audio but it’s not great. Personally I recommend starting with the decks based on the Hajimete Nihongo Vocabulary books, I think they are very good overall.

Its not perfect but it works for audio practice in flash cards, I use:

Android App: Kanji Senpai in a way its like WaniKani - if you pay for the decks, each word has audio file with it. Basically Kanji Senpai is my pre-made card deck app.

Anki (free on Andriod, and PC) - I make my own digital cards on my computer and review them on my phone most days:

Vocabulary - I use Forvo for words -
Most of the words that I have looked up, had audio file.
(To download the files, log in using Google/Facebook or make account)

Sentences - I record myself (using the Windows 10 Voice Recorder) or use text to speech website.

P.S You can check out FluentU, (have not tried it) it seems to be a good way to practice / learn with audio in mind.

For me, what worked was listening and singing along to anime songs, which broadened to J-Rock, J-Pop, and citypop.

Doing your own “karaoke” is a technique I learned when I studied Korean, and is pretty useful at bolstering your reading, speaking, and listening. When comparing the actual song to your singing, you’ll find differences, and if it’s a song that you really enjoy, then you’d probably want to sing it well.

There are also some short anime series I would watch and disable the subtitles and just replay them as slowly as I needed them to.
One example is Bananya.

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There is a podcast called « Let’s talk in Japanese! » that has helped me a lot.
It is specifically made by a Japanese teacher for people like us. The episodes are marked n5 to n1. I listen to it when I go on walks. It has helped me tremendously.

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NHK Easy is a pretty great resource! It’s got current events articles written in basic Japanese (furigana included, too); along with an audio file that reads each story’s transcript slowly and clearly.

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Language Learning with Netflix!!! It has skyrocketed my listening even over just a few weeks.

It’s a browser extension for Chrome that shows you subtitles in Japanese (and English, if you want and if it’s available). You can go line by line, repeat the lines, change the speed, and if you don’t know what a word means, you can hover over it for a definition. That feature is a bit off sometimes, but you can also always just look it up elsewhere.

I use it with a VPN (SurfShark) that lets me use Netflix Japan so I can watch PreCure and other shows I can’t get on Netflix in the US.

I seriously cannot recommend this enough!! I didn’t think I knew enough Japanese to even begin to watch PreCure without English subtitles, even though it’s a show for kids, but I’ve been doing just fine with this method. Also, you just have to let go of needing to understand EVERY SINGLE WORD with listening, I think. That’s also helped a lot. If I can get the gist, that’s good enough for me as a beginner.


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Just as a matter of course, no suggestions for pirated material will be tolerated. What you all do in your own time is your own choice. But as a community it’s a no go topic.