You’ve probably heard me mention JapanesePod101.com a few times on the site in the occasional article as a good resource. It is a great little site that really has huge library of content to work with. This along with the fact that it is relatively reasonable to get your hands on all that content makes it a great site to use.
It’s primarily setup as a premium podcast, but it has a lot more than that to offer. The lesson notes offer up grammar and vocabulary tips. There is also a huge bank of questions available for the JLPT. So it has something to practice just about any skill, but I mainly use to practice my listening.
Listening is really an important skill for a variety of reasons. You need to be able to first understand what is being said to you before you can respond. Also, listening (and reading) is the only skill you can truly master. If you study hard enough, there will be a day that you’ll be able to listen to anything and be able to understand the content. The same can not be said about speaking and writing unfortunately (well, maybe, if you study really really hard)
How to Use a Premium Japanese Pod 101 Subscription to Practice for the JLPT
One of the advantages of the premium subscription over the regular subscription is that the podcast episodes are automatically sliced up for you into dialog, grammar, and an exclusive review track. These can come in handy when reviewing. Sure, you could slice up the podcasts yourself, but you might as well save yourself the time and energy.
So you might be asking yourself, what can I do with a bunch of dialogs? Well, these are in fact great tools for practicing the listening section of the JLPT. Something that I do is take the dialog tracks and put them into their own playlist in iTunes, like so:
Then, grab a pencil and paper. Listen to all the dialogs of a given level one after another. Take notes on the main ideas in the dialog. Pay attention to what the characters are doing and what they are going to do next. Write notes about all of that. It’s okay to write your notes in English, although you can give yourself bonus points if you can do it quickly in Japanese.
After you are done listening to all the dialogs, go back and check the PDFs to make sure you understood the main points. If you have the PDFs printed out, circle the words you missed or couldn’t hear properly (i.e. it is a word that is fairly common, but for whatever reason you missed it while listening). If you prefer to go paperless, you can now make comments and highlight stuff on PDFs on your computer. You’ll want to plop those into Anki or onto a flashcard somewhere.
I should note, that at first these dialogs should be ones that you haven’t listened to before. Usually after about a period of 6 months, your brain will forget the exact dialog you listened to and you can repeat this process again at that time. Or you can of course use this strategy as a bit of review for those particularly difficult lessons you listened to.
Why Does this Work?
Well, during the test, you will hear dialog after dialog in the listening section. There are breaks between the dialogs and some questions give you reading time, but you are mostly forced to continue at a particular pace through the listening. This can be hard to get used to, especially at the higher levels where the listening section is 60 minutes long (for N1).
Practicing this forced pace beforehand will help you to get used to listening and taking notes at the same time – an invaluable skill to pick up for the test. It will also help you to pick out the main details of a conversation which is usually what they are asking for.
On the N2 and N1 tests, there are 2 or 3 questions toward the end of the listening section that require you to listen to a long passage (up to 1:30) and then they ask you questions about it. You are not given the questions beforehand. This always throws people off (threw me off before I got used to them). So, this technique can really counterbalance that as well.
Give me Some Comments
Have you tried JapanesePod101? What strategies do you use with this service? What do you think of this activity?
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