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How to Improve Your Listening Comprehension

To improve your listening comprehension, it is important to listen to the Japanese language as much as possible (3 hours per day a year). However, no matter how much you listen to the Japanese language, it is useless if you don't understand the meaning of the sentences. You can find many kinds of learning materials for listening comprehension at book stores, but they cost a lot. So, I recommend some useful tips to improve your listening comprehension without costing much.

1. Record dialogues of Japanese dramas and FM96.3 (6:45am-9:30am, Mon to Fri) radio programs (or something like this) on cassette. You may not understand most of the conversations in Japanese at first, but will gradually get used to the natural speed (This is very important).

As you learn more vocabulary and grammar in class, you can gradually understand what was said in the cassettes.

As you listen to the conversations, you may notice phrases or words which appear repeatedly in the Japanese dramas and radio programs. You should try to catch them, write them down and ask your teacher their meaning. You can improve your vocabulary this way. Besides, there are also many Japanese words which sound like English (KATAKANA words). Try to catch them as well.

2. In class, we practice listening to what you have studied. So, try to concentrate while listening to the listening comprehension cassettes in class so that you don't have to buy them yourself. (They cost a lot and are rather boring.) Whne you reach JLPT class, we offer the listening comprehension materials for your self-study.

During your free time, try to revise and memorize the sentences from the textbook, and practice point 1.

3. It is also good to listen to your favorite J-POPs to improve your listening comprehension. However, you should try to grasp the meaning of the lyrics by reading them, then listen to them repeatedly. In this way, you cannot only improve your listening comprehension, but your vocabulary as well.

4. Improving your vocabularies is important. Visit POPjisho.com. This site helps you to read Japanese web pages. Simply move the mouse over a Japanese word to display its definition. It tells you the meaning of the KANJI characters. Make sure that you are able to read Japanese on web pages before going to this site. To do so, visit UnionWay.

You also can improve your vocabularies by reading Japanese comics (MANGA). Most of sentences in MANGA have HIRAGANA besides KANJI. This means that you are able to read all the Japanese sentences in MANGA if you can read HIRAGANA and KATAKANA. Try to write the words and sentences which you don't understand, and ask your teacher the meaning of them. Here I recommend some good MANGA as reading materials.

ONE PIECE by ODA eiichiro
CHIBI MARUKO CHAN by SAKURA momoko
TATCHI by ADACHI mitsuru
GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka by FUJISAWA Toru
MONSTER by URASAWA naoki
SLAM DUNK by INOUE Takehiko
MEITANTEI KONAN by AOYAMA Takemasa
KINDAICHI SHONEN NO JIKENBO by AMAKI seimaru and SATOU fumiya
HIKARU NO GO by HOTTA yumi, KOBATAKE ken and UMEZAWA yukari



How to Improve Your Speaking

It is best to get Japanese friends whom you can talk to everyday in Japanese to improve your speaking. However, it is rather difficult to do so in Singapore. Try the Internet chatting in Japanese or get friends whom you can exchange e-mails frequently. You can find Japanese friends at Yahoo! Japan, Personals or Japan PenFriends.

You can find a lot of sites on studying the Japanese language. I recommend About.com, Japanese Language.

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