Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Listening spree

I haven't really been updating very often lately, but that's because I haven't felt the need to discuss much - things are really going pretty well and I have very few things to rant or whine about.

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been focusing my energy on listening - lots and lots of listening to a variety of material, over and over again. This is something I've tried doing in the past, mostly using KeyholeTV, with... mixed results. (90% of Japanese TV makes me want to tear my hair out - which I suppose is still a significant improvement over American TV) 
I tried again with various Japanese audiobooks, but never really found very much that I cared to hear dozens of times over. (我輩は猫である seemed nice - but the narrator began to grate on me, and the story was far too long for repetitive listening)

Then, recently, I decided to dig up the ol' audio book thread at RevTK, download as much as I could, find a few keepers and then stick with them for a while. It actually didn't take very long for me to find some really fantastic listening material. I must say I'm most partial Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, which are exceptionally well narrated and acted, and seem at least a little more appealing to me than something like Little Red Riding Hood - not that there's anything wrong with listening to children's stories! It's actually quite interesting hearing classic lines such as "The better to eat you with" in Japanese - like Khatz says, listening to a translated version of something you're very familiar with and have heard many times before in your native language is really a great way to pick up bits of your second language.

I also had to weed out some of the more obnoxious material, unfortunately, most of which had irritating background music and/or narration that made me want to punch a puppy. Seriously. I can deal with a little background music if it's relevant to the story, or a tasteful intro ditty... but most of the stories on http://fantajikan.tea-nifty.com/blog/, for example, are just begging for an asskicking. Ah well - something tells me that their target audience isn't the jaded 20-something crowd...

At any rate, I have around 8-9 hours of material which I'm listening to as frequently as I can, mostly passively as I go about my day. I'm probably averaging about 8 hours of listening a day, having listened to most of these stories several times by now, and although I still find it difficult to understand much, I'm really starting to patch things together and understand more and more, without even having consulted transcripts yet. It's really quite impressive how the brain can piece together puzzles such as these on its own, if given enough repetition and time.
Next step will be the transcripts, of course.

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