I knew the tones were hard but not this hard! On this self-administered listening test in one of our class textbooks (each comes with a CD), I got so many wrong I don't even know where to start fixing it. Over the course of its 24 syllables, I managed to mistake pretty much every tone for every other! Our teacher's response, when I showed her the bloody scene, was both discouraging and encouraging: it's hard even for her to make out words without contexts. Nothing to do but keep learning words (with their tones!), and keep training my ears any way I can.I do just fine with the written - my familiarity through Japanese with the way characters works helps a lot. What's (a little) amusing is that as a result I'm finding myself in a situation analogous to that of my Chinese classmates when I was learning Japanese - they could read almost anything, but couldn't recognize anything anyone said. Or, for that matter, many Japanese of my acquaintance, whose knowledge of written English so far outstripped their abilities in conversation as to paralyze them in despondent panic. I'm glad to have a good teacher!