I recently had the honor to be on 日本語 with あこ (Nihongo with Ako), a podcast hosted by Japanese teacher Ako Suzuki.
I had come across her podcasts in the past but never listened to them properly. (I was more familiar with her online lessons.) But after listening to some episodes, and appearing on Ako’s podcast myself, I saw they’re really great listening practice for JLPT N4/N3 level learners.
About Ako Sensei
Ako Suzuki has been teaching Japanese for 19 years. She has group and private lessons for all Japanese levels (although she’s currently fully booked.)
And, of course, she has a Japanese podcast!
日本語 with あこ (Nihongo with Ako)
This podcast dos not comprise of Japanese lessons like Ako’s YouTube videos. They are in fact discussions with native and native-level Japanese speakers.
The episodes are entirely in Japanese, each one focusing on a different topic with a different person.
The clever thing Ako has done with her podcast is work with her discussions to create simple conversations that use basic Japanese. The conversations and slow and clear, but also use natural Japanese, making them perfect for JLPT N4/N3 level learners!
They remind me of Japanese Graded Readers because the content is catered to Japanese practice and study.
The topics are varied so you might find Japanese that you haven’t learned in your textbook yet.
Such as the first episode 副業 (ふくぎょう), which means “side business” or “side work.” (I didn’t know this word until I moved to Japan!) In this first episode Ako talks about her friend Kyoto who works full time in IT but works on the side as an illustrator. Then she discusses the culture of 副業 (ふくぎょう) in Japan.
The episode is only 7 minutes long, which isn’t too long and isn’t too short. It’s just right! In fact all her podcasts are between 7 and 12 minutes long. This makes them great to listen to over and over again, which really helps hone your listening skills.
You can check it out by the link above or here:
Other subjects include どうぶつのもり “Animal Crossing”, 校則 (こうそく) “school rules/regulations”, コスプレ “cosplay”, シングルマザー “single mothers”, BTS and Slam Dunk. Honestly, so many interesting topics! And there are new episodes every week!
And, of course, the interview with me where we talk about 読書（どくしょ）”reading”.
Finding listening practice for beginner Japanese lessons outside of textbooks can be quite tricky. But Ako has provided a great resource for Japanese learners to practice their listening skills. I highly recommend you check them out!
You can find this podcast wherever you listen to podcasts, as well as:
You can find Ako on social media here: