Today I am going to review the podcast “News in Slow Japanese,” the contents of which are probably very obvious given the title. I have taken up listening to podcasts, since they are one of the only ways I can get legitimate listening practice in Chinese, Japanese, and Korea. Sure, there are dramas and anime shows to be seen, but sometimes I just don’t have the time spend hours each night poring over a TV show. Podcasts are a great way to explore a language- they are free, cover numerous subjects, and are easy to use. The best part about podcasts is that you don’t actually have to sit down to listen to one– they don’t demand your full attention. Rather, you can listen to one on your commute to work, while you’re cleaning, etc.
Today’s podcast is great for students of Japanese who want to do some listening practice everyday, but don’t necessarily have the luxury of having hours each day to study. News in Slow Japanese publishes roughly once a week with a short news segment on some random topic. The podcast publishes two episodes for each news story- a fast version and a slow version. The news segments are quite short, so the fast versions are usually last a minute, and the slow versions are usually 2-3 minutes long.
Now- the slow versions are really, REALLY slow. I mean, they sort of have to be right? These episodes are probably useful for high beginning~intermediate learners- advanced speakers will probably be bored listening to something at this speed. (Seriously, the speaker will pause after every word.) The “fast” version of the episode is actually not that fast, definitely nowhere near native speed. That being said, I like to listen to the fast version first, and then listen to the slow version in order to pick up on any words I missed. The best part? News in Slow Japanese also includes transcripts for post of their episodes, so you can follow along/write down words to study later. There is also a romanization of the transcripts below the Japanese kana/kanji version in case you get lost along the way.
News in Slow Japanese covers lots of cool/interesting stories:
- A Toy Poodle Police Dog
- Monkey Buffet
- The 81-Year-Old DJ Grandma (I love this one- this woman is living her best life)
- Mochi Pounding
Personally speaking, I love this podcast. The lengths of the episodes are short enough so that you don’t get distracted and stop listening. Also, the subjects are light and breezy, so you don’t need to listen intensely just to understand what’s going on. For reference, I like listening to the episodes when I’m in the shower or doing some mundane task like folding laundry.
Slow News in Japanese also has an app now which I have not used). The app, I believe, has vocabulary and some grammar as well. Truthfully, I wish episode descriptions contained short vocabulary lists for some of the unfamiliar words (the eclectic subject matter lends itself to some unusual words sometimes). The app also appears to have premium content that you’d have to pay for, but includes quizzes and the like. The host of the podcast, Sakura, seems to have a great grasp of English as well, so I’d recommend checking out her blog here.
You will benefit the most from this podcast if you are:
- A high beginner to low advanced student. You’ll need a decent grasp of most grammatical concepts. Really advanced students might get bored with the speed/length.
- Want something short and sweet to supplement your listening practice
- Find “regular” news in Japanese to be a bit daunting
My overall rating: 4/5