Conversations in Noisy Places — 4 Comments

  1. Good advice – I wish someone had suggested that I should do this years ago, so I wouldn’t have had to get good at it solely by being in noisy places and listening to stuff. I will try doing this now and see if it makes any improvement on my listening anyway (I don’t have the best listening ability in English though, so it might just be that my ears aren’t that great!).

    I wonder if there’s any genre of Japanese listening materials that would prepare you for when somebody is trying to tell you something that they don’t want the people around you to overhear, and so are not only speaking very quietly, but also using EXTREMELY vague Japanese, because I still have problems understanding that! I generally have to get my friends to spell things out for me, which I’m sure annoys them, hehe.

    The thing that you didn’t really cover in this is dealing with the friend with a strong accent problem. Are there any ways that you would recommend getting exposure to different dialects of Japanese? Because my most difficult experience with Japanese was a few years ago, when I was able to understand almost all standard every day Japanese, when I first met my boyfriend’s parents. They come from Iwakuni, which is in Yamaguchi, but near Hiroshima, so they both have really strong accents. REALLY strong. When I first met them, I was really shocked and discouraged to realise that I only really understood about 30% of what they were saying. I would have thought that constantly speaking to someone who is also from the area (my boyfriend!) would have prepared me for it, but the difficult thing with learning dialects from Japanese people from an area with a strong accent is that they generally automatically make their Japanese as close to standard Japanese as they can, unless they are talking to someone who is from the same area, so it can be difficult/impossible to actually learn a dialect from them, even if they slip into it as soon as they are surrounded by other people speaking it.

    So what can you do to get exposure to lots of different dialects? Kansai-ben is easy, as all you need to do to hear it is watch any Japanese TV with comedians in it. But what about the others?? The only way I’ve been able to get used to the few which I can understand well is by spending a significant amount of time in those areas, surrounded by people using that dialect…

    Any ideas? :)

  2. This is really good advice. That’s one of the reasons why I’m nervous to talk to my mother-in-law on Skype (have yet to do so). When I see her in person, I can understand her. But online, the volume of her voice is really low. My husband can understand her fine, but overhearing their conversations, I can’t hear anything (-_-). A skill to work on.

  3. Hmm… and to think I had been going about this all wrong, insisting on having my door closed and my mom not watching Doctor Who while I’m trying to catch up on my Anki reviews… Well, the closed-door policy is not optional, since I read the sentence cards out loud, but it doesn’t need to be completely quiet after all…

    I just wish my regular headphones didn’t look so silly. (I can’t afford Apple products (unemployed college graduate), so my laptop IS my “iPod”… and I use Windows Media Player, not iTunes since in my experience, iTunes is cancerous to non-OSX systems and non-purchased (i.e. Creative Commons) music collections.)

    • You can get perfectly good mp3 players for $30. I’m wondering how your headphones look silly – perhaps they three feet tall and shaped like cats? Again, you can perfectly good earphones for cheap, you don’t have to use apple products. I don’t consider them worth the extortionate prices, personally. I use my Samsung phone (about $60) as an mp3 player. The only problem with that is that it doesn’t display Japanese characters, but this isn’t much of a problem since I don’t really need to read the song titles.

      And yeah, I hate iTunes too ;)

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