When I hear people speaking Japanese, I like to practice my listening skills by eavesdropping on them. Sorry, but I'm going to be rude about it and not respect people's privacy because I've put way too many hours into studying Japanese to not do it.
Last week I was in a cafe, watching the rain and taking a break from writing, when two Japanese people sat down at a table near mine and started talking about different stuff. Even though I had work to do (well, "work" that may never see the light of day because it's a pipe dream), I managed to catch the gist of what they were saying.
If I eavesdrop on Spanish conversations or another language I've studied, I have to concentrate more to figure out what they're saying, even to understand where the words separate into comprehensible units. But with Japanese, I can relax. Sure, I don't know all the words, but because I lived there and have continued to study it, I feel comfortable, so my mind can settle on the sounds of the language. Even if I'm watching a movie where Japanese is spoken and I don't totally understand what they're saying, I still feel "at home" with it. I still have a long way to go until I'm awesome in that language, but at least it doesn't scare me.
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