Improve Your Listening Ability Just By Using Earphones

I once talked about how there is a major difference between not understanding and not hearing. Regardless of your level, sometimes when it is hard to hear things you misinterpret this as your listening ability just lacking. I was talking about this in the context of conversation, and all the variables that affect your actual ability to hear something.

Improve Your Listening Ability Just By Using Earphones

 

But it goes beyond conversation and is relevant any time you listen to Japanese at all.

I want you to try something.

Watch an episode of something normally. Then watch the next episode with your earphones in. Which did you understand more of?

Just like in conversation, even in just watching a video there are things that get in the way of your hearing. Think to your own native language viewing. You’ve seen plenty of material where it was a bit hard to hear (due to excess music, background noise, or any other sound obstacles). Just having the sound closer often makes it clearer.

While you may not always want to have earphones in, when you really want to focus, really want to understand, and want a tiny boost, give it a try.

Anyone have any similar experiences with listening with earphones vs without?



Related posts:

The following two tabs change content below.
Adam

Adam

Founder of Jalup. Spends most of his time absorbing and spreading thrilling information about learning Japanese.

Comments

Improve Your Listening Ability Just By Using Earphones — 13 Comments

  1. I always listen with headphones, it’s an old habbit. But I got caught offguard when I took the JLPT because the sound quality from the CD player they were using was so much worse than what I had practiced with. I struggled to hear the recording properly which made it much harder to understand. Still passed the test though.

    • Wow that’s irritating. You would think sound quality would be a priority for the JLPT.

      Congrats on passing though!

  2. I totally agree and am always telling people this. Although, doesn’t just have to be with headphones! Listening to audio in the car has the same effect.

    I think listening to audio in the car and through headphones prepared me for watching media without subs. It was like, the step before getting ready to forgo the subs.

    • Good point, as being in a car surrounds you with the audio as well. In the beginning all these small advantages make a big difference.

  3. I’ve been using headphones for years, probably ever since I swapped my TV for a computer. It’s been so long that I don’t even remember why I started. My listening comprehension is hardly great, but I do think it’s better than it would have been if I weren’t using headphones. When watching things subbed there will be occasions where I simultaneously read and hear something I know, which is at least a little bit of reinforcement. I doubt this would happen as often if the sound were more distant.

    (And another reason to use headphones is that some series have pretty amazing sound design. のんのんびより, for example, paints these really lush 3d soundscapes that really brings the rural environment to life.)

    • Some series definitely have beautiful sounds and music that just make you feel it more with headphones.

      Even with a TV you can still use headphones (just need an extension cord).

  4. This is funny, I was just thinking that whenever I watch I show it’s ten times easier in my headphones. I was watching an episode of アカメが斬る!and hardly understood anything but after a few times in my headphones I understood about 70%

    • It’s one of those things that you subconsciously know, but never really think about. It makes a major difference though as you’ve seen!

  5. So Adam what would you recommend
    1. Immersive by listening through externer speaker (which means no earphone)
    2. Immersive by listening through earphone
    What is more effective for practicing listening ?

    • Nguyen,
      I was just thinking about this today, as I noticed that even at equal volumes, if I’m working on something else, a greater portion of my attention goes to the passive immersion if I use headphones. No real explanation why, just what I’ve noticed for me.

    • I think a mix of both is important.

      Edub makes a good point that your attention is stronger when you use headphones. On the other hand, it is also important to develop some skill listening to things further away.

      I think the focus can be on headphones though.

      • (IMO)
        Use earphone when:
        – Beginner recommend
        – On the go
        – Active immersive (passive is good too)
        – Listen maybe 3 times to a drama for a good understand, then switch to external speaker
        – Really want to understand a favourite anime, drama
        – Don’t want to bother roommates or parents
        – Don’t recommend using earphones when focus on doing somethings.

        Use external speaker when:
        – Passive immersive
        – Want to improve real life – listening ability
        – Want to focus on sth but also want to immersive (low volume)
        – News radio (because it’s so boring but still needed)
        – Listen to music
        – When sleeping (really low volume), very little effective but better than nothing (and of course don’t bother anyone)

        any good ideas ?

        • Looks fine to me. Speakers vs. headphones is going to be a very personal balance but your comparison list hits on that well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *