Here at AJATT, we (me? I?) are (am?) all about input. Input, input, input. And that works well for written Japanese. But what about regular spoken Japanese? Well, hang out with Japanese people. But what if there are no people from Japan in your area? Simulate them.
One of my favorite ways to simulate having Japanese friends is (was?…wait, is…is today my day to be indecisive?) podcasts. And one of the best podcasts out there is 「道産子女子高生のしゃべり場！まりもえお！」（ど・さん・こ・じょ・し・こう・せい・の・喋り・ば・まりもえお, which somewhat loosely translates to: Marimoe! Three Hokkaido High School Girls’ Hang-Out Joint!).
By the way, this isn’t another instance of me trying to force gentlemen to talk like ladies :). Marimoe aren’t your stereotypical high school girls who’ve forgone the services of their brains; they aren’t airheads and they don’t really talk in a ditzy or explicitly feminine way; most of their speech is neither womanly nor manly but gender neutral, so do feel free to imitate and listen to them without fear.
Perhaps the coolest thing about Marimoe podcasts is that they have the quality of being both very natural (as if you just happened to be listening to three native speakers having a normal conversation), and very professional in that they actually do/did the podcasts on a regular basis; they pick something of a topic in advance and there are no dumb pauses — none of the narcissism and repetition of poorly done podcasts: “うん・･･･････････････・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・ええと・・・”…I mean, after a while, that just gets too much.
Whether or not you are the level in your Japanese where you understand them, there’s still value in having them playing in the background. And the cool thing about spoken word over music is that it’s not as distracting — sometimes you want to concentrate on something else while still to remaining “in Japan”; Rip Slyme are too groovy to let you focus anything else; but with something like Marimoe, you can.
Anyway, definitely give it a try.
- Yomiuri Shimbun News Podcasts and Video Podcasts
- Podcast NAVI, Japanese Podcast Directory
- What is a Podcast?