An important skill. But how to do it outside of Japan when you only have other learners to talk to?
Actually I find talking and listening to native Japanese very hard. No matter what, the speed is quite fast; you can’t rewind when you don’t understand; and you have to make some sort of response. Conversation is the ultimate goal but to help me get there I found some more passive listening opportunities.
There are lots of great japanese films out there to watch. The subtitles help you follow the Japanese, but it’s worth turning the subs off now and again. Also if you get discs direct from Japan you may have Japanese subtitles on the disc for that added challenge.
I think films can give you a feel for the language and culture. Also I think its good to hear Japanese spoken with different voices and at different speeds; even with basic Japanese its surprising how much you can pick out. (But remember rule 1 of Anime; anime is not real life.)
Easier to listen to on a loop. Harder to understand. But I can pick up some words and phrases and get a feel for the rythms and sounds of Japanese. And you need at least one song you can sing at Karaoke night.
Where would we be without it? There are language sites, podcasts and radio shows just a couple of clicks away.
The Internet is the best place to find material that a learner can understand. Unlike film or Tv where so much will go in one ear and out the other without being understood.
An important part of listening to conversations at this level is repeating the phrases out loud so you aren’t entirely passive and are giving yourself practice for the day you’ll use the words in conversation. Another trick is to separate each side of a dialogue onto left and right tracks on a recording. Then by removing an earphone you can practice one side of a script. Sometimes when I listen to people talk in English I hear a lot of repetition and stock phrases almost as if they are giving back a script they have practised before.