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Japanese Learners of English Beware!

Somona listening

One common belief among Japanese learners of English is that it's easier to read than it is to listen. Often, students will have a difficult time hearing even the simplest words when they are spoken. This is odd because if words can be understood when they are read, then they should be able to be understood by the learner when they are spoken. Unfortunately, this is often not the case.

Why is that?

One reason comes from the gap in the expectation of sounds and the reality of sounds. try an experiment. Write the word chocolate and have your students read it to themselves quietly. More often than not, students who are not aware of their own pronunciation will pronounce the word chocolate like this: cho•ko•lay•to. That is what the voice inside of their heads sounds like. This is why listening falls apart.

In order to be able to understand the word chocolate when it is spoken, students must first translate the word chocolate into a katakana-based sound system before they can understand the meaning. Instead of instantaneous understanding, sounds are converted into a katakana system and then given meaning by the listener.

In order to become good at listening to spoken English, Japanese learners of must turn off their katakana filters. This rule also applies to all non-native English speakers who depend on their language’s sound system for English pronunciation.

We found a great video on YouTube which explains the importance of turning off the katakana filter. The video is in Japanese learners of English at all levels will be able to understand.

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