I am a Japanese Language student here in Tokyo. I don't know if I'll get a downvote for this question, but might as well try. I've been studying Japanese for about a month now here in Japan using a book called Minna no Nihongo book since our school provided that book for us. I am around lesson 18 right now and we're in the ~koto ga arimasu lesson. We usually just read aloud what's written already in the book and practice by pairs as well. It's true that I've been learning new patterns and words, but when it comes to creating my own sentences from my own experiences (not from the books), it's very hard to come up with my own answers.

Also, I find that it's very difficult to understand when Japanese people talk because the pace is sometimes too fast especially when my boss in my part-time job is talking to me, 90% of the time I rely on gestures (because he also uses words which I do not know or haven't studied yet). What's even harder is that when he asks me a question, I usually get nervous, mumble and have a hard time answering. It's also becoming hard for me because it is hard to find work given that I currently know a small amount of Japanese vocabulary and pattern.

I tried searching the internet for ways to improve Japanese especially on listening and speaking. One suggestion was to watch Doraemon in Japanese audio. Problem with that is I almost cannot understand anything the characters are saying. Another suggestion was to read from the website NHK news for beginners, which is like a website with news articles with text-to-speech function that lets you adjust the speed, but again, I can't understand any of it.

Do any of you have any tips/resources which can help me improve both reading, listening and speaking? I honestly do not know how listening to Doraemon and not even understanding even 10% of the episode helps. I was thinking maybe I could use another book called **Genki* on the weekends but I'm afraid that learning from different books at the same time would actual hinder my learning curve.

  • If you use NHK easy news, you should try listening to the same clip repeatedly until you can match the text to the spoken language.
    – Ringil
    May 11, 2019 at 16:52
  • Something to note is that even if you don't understand 100% of what is being said (in your Doraemon example), listening still has benefits, such as adjusting you to how the language sounds. It can be very helpful for picking up word boundaries, pitch accent, etc. later.
    – Hatchet
    May 16, 2019 at 16:16

1 Answer 1


I assume your boss was aware you are not fluent in Japanese when hiring you? So can you say "sorry please talk slower, I do not understand"?

For speaking, I like Pimsleur audio courses a lot. You listen, get hints, formulate your own answer, and compare it with right answer. They (or others) might be even available in nearby public library.

Also consider finding a language exchange partner: some Japanese person who wants to learn English (assuming English is your L1). Like mylanguageexchange.com (I have no financial benefit, but I am a member). Actually, I would start with language exchange :-)

Learning from different sources will very unlikely hinder your learning (if they provide correct info), quite the opposite: maybe some stuff which you cannot understand using one explanation will "click" when using another one. Of course you have bit higher cognitive load - learning different set of words.

If you do not understand first time, repeat. Start with some audio with transcription, so you know what you should hear. Repeat. Learn some children rhymes or pop songs, repeat them multiple times.

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