The question I have is something that every student of a second language should have. That is about not being able to hear the difference between similar sounds, because of the first language. For example, as I know for Spanish speakers it's hard to differentiate between "v" and "b", for Japanese ones between "r" and "l", for Russian ones between "u" and "u:".
Well I watched a lot of videos explaining how to pronounce similar (for me) sounds, e.g. "i" and "i:". I know what the proper position of the tongue is when pronouncing them and I kinda can differentiate between them when a speaker says them slowly. But in fast natural speech I just can't hear the difference or might mix it. The meaning of the words in most cases is guessed from the context. I tried to listen to similar words like 20 times in a row, but it seems it doesn't really help.
So the question is: is it possible somehow to start hearing the difference as clearly as natives? Are there any trainings or tips? The trainings I've seen so far are disappointing for me. The main approach is "repeat after me - good". So even though I can accidentally pronounce the sound correctly, next time I can't. Because I just can't correct myself, can't hear what the sound ideally should sound like.
Have you heard of any cases when people learn how to hear those sounds when they are adults? The only successful cases I know are when kids (younger 12 or something) learn the second language. It seems kids can hear more sounds or the "sound range" and hence can reproduce them. It's just a matter of time and practice for kids.