The struggles of a fledgling Japanese language student

The defeated look on my student’s face still haunts me. We were huddled close to the speaker, our ears straining to pick out familiar words from the audio clip that was playing. Amidst the silence, I found a few heads nodding in understanding.

“時計売り場はどちらですか?”, repeated a student, looking at me expectantly. He was right and the others quickly noted down the answer. 

The audio clip was part of the listening section in the textbook we had open before us. We were well into the second lesson and the students were faring better than I had thought they would. Except for one. He was lost.

I replayed the audio clip once again and asked him to try and recognise some words. He did much better the second time around.

We then moved on to longer conversations where the objective was to figure out if the statement given after the conversation was true of false.

A: エレベーターはどこですか?

B: あそこです。

A: 電話は?

B: 電話は。。そこです。

A: どうも。


I looked over to my troubled student and he didn’t look so good! He couldn’t follow the audio like the other students. So I broke it down for me, sentence by sentence until he was on the same page. But he wasn’t happy at all. I realised he was trying to achieve something he wasn’t capable of at that stage. He was putting a lot of pressure on himself to understand a foreign language he was hearing for the very first time!

Most of the students who attend my classes haven’t been exposed to Japanese before and almost all of them want to pass the test due to happen this December. Listening sections can be tough if you aren’t used to how Japanese sounds and the only way I know how to tackle this problem is to watch a lot of anime and drama.

However, most of the content that I have watched or listened to are suitable for levels intermediate and above. I am yet to find something that can be shared with my students. The challenge for me this week would be to find appropriate listening material for my students and I can only hope that the discouraged souls from my class hang in there a little while longer.

P.S. What do you think I should make them listen to? Songs? An anime series? Podcasts? If so, which ones? Any help is much appreciated.


5 thoughts on “The struggles of a fledgling Japanese language student

  1. I think real life material such as anime or drama are too fast for beginners. I went to a 日本語学校 to learn Japanese, we did different things with different teachers. Teacher A wanted us to memorize the dialog of the chapter we are learning and perform it in front of the class. Teacher B wanted us to record our voice on a cassette tape. So if you, as the teacher, want to try out some training methods with your students, you can do that with them. ^^

  2. Have you considered showing them clips from Erin?

    The material isn’t really slowed down to baby the listener, but they do keep the sentences fairly simple since it’s aimed at Japanese learners. They also offer subtitles in kana, romaji, and English which can be helpful for when the audio is too fast.

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