Japanese beginner listening resources

I started learning Japanese a while back, and so far I have mostly stuck to learning vocabulary in Skritter. I’ve learnt a few hundred words and kana, basically. I will eventually check out some textbooks and properly structured teaching materials, but I want to keep it lightweight for now.

I could, however, fit in a few hours of listening every week right now, and would like to hear your recommendations for what to listen to! The only requirement is that it has to be audio only, i.e. it can’t be something I have to study first and then access in audio format. I’m not very familiar with Japanese learning resources, but I would imagine podcasts, audio courses and the like would work well. What do you all recommend?

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I’m also curious what people have to suggest.

Taishukan makes an excellent series of extensive reading (多読 = tadoku) readers. See https://www.taishukan.co.jp/item/nihongo_tadoku/index_en.html. At the low end they aren’t quite as interesting as the Mandarin Companion books, and they sometimes rely on fringe vocabulary (e.g. having an anthropomorphized millstone as a character means learning the word for millstone), but I think they more than make up for that in quality, consistency, and volume. The really cool part is they have MP3s online for the books.

I haven’t tried using the MP3s on their own, only after reading the books. One thing I found challenging about them is the speakers can try to be dramatic, and the changes in volume and speed makes it harder to follow what they are saying. But that’s probably more authentic.

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Thanks for the recommendation! I’ll definitely try something like that, but much later. I don’t think I would understand anything except perhaps an occasional word here and there. Regarding the authenticity of dramatic recordings, I’m not so sure. For example, I listen to Chinese audio books and the recordings are often similarly dramatic, but that doesn’t mean Chinese people actually speak like that (they don’t), it’s just that that’s what’s expected in an audio book. I don’t know about Japanese, though, just comparing with Chinese, where it seems like if the recorder has the relevant training, he or she is going to make really sure you can hear it. :slight_smile:

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I thought about this some more, and even though I did specify I want something which is audio-only, I could consider working my way through a graded reader with the aid of the written version too. If so, would you be able to recommend one for me in that series? Which would be the easiest one? Or, if they are about the same level, which one would you recommend based on other criteria?

The readers span a wide range of skill levels. The ones I mentioned are a bit unusual in that the audio version (at least for the first 6 collections) is available online whether you have purchased them or not, so you can use them as an audio-only tool or audit them to decide if you want to purchase the books. See https://tadoku.org/japanese/audio-downloads#ad-02. The level 0 “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse” is the easiest. Probably not the most interesting, though :slight_smile:

When you drill down on the first link you can also find pdf samples of the first few pages.

Yes, I saw that there are many levels, I meant the easiest one within the easiest level. The time I have studied Japanese can still conveniently be counted in hours, so I need to make sure I start with something as easy as possible! I think the audio only will be way too hard for me, especially since it will be hard to look things up if I don’t hear clearly what they’re saying.

There’s a series of lessons provided by NHK that teaches the absolutely basic Japanese. The address is

May be that’s what you want.

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After more searching, it seems that the older 2015 series at

is actually better than the current one.


Thanks, I’ll check them out!

So, after checking that resource out, while being useful and something I’ll use, it’s not really what I asked for. I’m after something I don’t have to read to get into, but this seems to be more like a textbook with recordings. There is no way to learn anything without first reading. My goal is to find a resource where I don’t have to read and can still learn. Imagine that I wanted to learn Japanese while driving, that’s the kind of resource I’m after!

Have you tried JapanesePod101? They have lots of audio-only lessons.

I haven’t tried anything at all yet! :slight_smile: I’ll check it out, thanks!

Yes, this is pretty much exactly what I’m after. Now I only wish there was some way to download lots of audio at once. :slight_smile: But this is exactly the kind of resource I was looking for, thanks!

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