Posts Tagged ‘JLPT’

New Japanese Language Proficiency Test to be introduced in 2010

Posted 03 Aug 2008 — by Andy in Tokyo
Category Japanese Language, News, Work

Japan Educational Exchanges and Services (JEES) and The Japan Foundation, who are jointly responsible for the administration of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) , have announced that the current testing system is to revised by June 2010.

At present there are four tests to choose from, with level 1 being the most difficult. There have been many complaints from examinees that the gap – in terms of difficulty – between levels 3 and 2 is too large: to pass level 3 examinees need to know about 300 kanji, compared to 1000 for level 2.

The current plan is to revise the JLPT into 5 levels. Level 4 will become N5, level 3 becomes N4, while a new level – between the current levels 3 and 4 – is to be named N3. N2 will remain the essentially the same as the current level 2, while N1 will be a slightly more advanced version of the current level 1.

In addition, tests for levels 1 and 2 will be held biannually – in June and December – from 2009.

The revision, and especially the option of taking the exam twice a year, should come as a great relief to many students of Japanese. Many people come unstuck at level 2, and the fact that you can only take it once a year makes failure a very bitter pill to swallow.

I, for one, have been thinking about directing my attention away from the JLPT and towards the Business Japanese Proficiency Test (BJT) instead. My teacher thought it might be more useful for me seeing as everything that happens in my office, if not directly related to my area of expertise, requires me to use business Japanese. However, now that the JLPT is changing I may try both next year, just for the sheer hell of it.

By the way, if you’re interested in learning Japanese and don’t know where to start I’ve made a list of books to help you on your way. In fact, you can find it on the right-hand menu bar next to this article.

PS: The official website of the JLPT, where you can find out the latest news regarding the new levels, can be found here.


Posted 10 Feb 2007 — by Andy in Tokyo
Category Japanese Language, Tokyo, Work

The past five days or so has not been entirely enjoyable: I contracted a virus of some kind and was feeling pretty nasty come Sunday night. Foolishly, I decided to go to work for the next three days, under the delusion that I’d be able to fight it off.

I couldn’t.

Common sense (Ayako) prevailed on Thursday; I took the day off and visited the doctor, who gave me an injection of some kind and various other medications to take for the next few days. I’m currently taking seventeen pills a day and there’s no chance of a cheeky pint for the duration of this three-day weekend. Bollocks. I am feeling much better, though, so at least the drugs are working.

On Wednesday I finally received my JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) result, and was pleasantly surprised to discover that I passed. I had been thinking I’d either scrape a passing grade of 60% or, more likely, fail by the tiniest of margins. I ended up with 77%, which wasn’t too bad at all. Listening turned out to be my weakest point, and writing/vocabulary my strongest, which is no way surprising.

Now, don’t think this in any way means I’m fluent in Japanese. I only took the third grade level out of four (with one being the toughest), so I have a long way to go yet. The second grade is, by all accounts, much harder; my current knowledge of kanji is around the 300-400 mark, but I’ll need to have mastered over 1,000 before I can even think about entering. If I can manage it before the end of the decade, I’d be more than chuffed!

Anyway, one thing I’ve learned from studying Japanese is if you don’t use it, or at least have a crack at it on a regular basis, it will quickly disappear from memory, which I imagine applies to all languages. I’ve been talking in Japanese a lot more recently, although my lack of vocabulary becomes absolutely mind-bendingly frustrating if I have to explain something I haven’t studied beforehand. I feel stuck in a bit of a trough with that at the moment, and really need to kick myself out.


Moving On

Posted 26 Nov 2006 — by Andy in Tokyo
Category Food, Japanese Language, Only in Japan, Video, Weather, Work

Yes indeed, after eighteen months of teaching at A Big university I will finally be moving on to pastures new come the end of December. Learning some Japanese seems to have paid off and I’ve managed to secure a job in central Tokyo doing interesting stuff (well, interesting for me, at least). My new company wants to employ me for at least the next five years, so it looks like I’ll be in Tokyo for quite a while yet. But… it’s very possible I’ll be making business trips between Japan and the UK (as well as Australia, South Africa and Singapore – cool!) over the next few years, so I’m sure I’ll get a chance to see at least some friends and family sooner rather than later!

In other news:

  • Bought a new sofa last week, which arrived this morning and is sweeeeeet. Lying on it feels like being back in the womb.
  • The weather has turned: It’s now most definitely cold. The upside is that almost every day is incredibly clear and bright; I can see Mt. Fuji from my office again!
  • Christmas has arrived. It’s impossible to go shopping without being bombarded by Xmas songs, tinsel, horrendous plastic reindeer and lights, so so many lights. But – what with Japan being not being a Christian country and all that – Xmas Day is in fact a normal working day. So what’s the effing point? Ey?
  • Have a Japanese exam next Sunday and have come to the conclusion that I haven’t studied anywhere near hard enough recently. Oh well…

Today we decided to have dinner at home for once (we usually eat out on Saturdays). This is what we bought:

Seafood Feast

Now that’s what I call fresh! Cooking them proved a bit of a heart-wrenching experience (word of advice: never grill shrimp unless you are 100% sure they are dead first), but as you can see, the end result looked pretty good, and the taste wasn’t bad either. Recently I’ve been trying to at least put some effort into cooking. I think everyone has the impression that everything in Tokyo is ridiculously expensive (melons more expensive than human kidneys and so on…), but to be honest I would say the UK is probably even more expensive these days, especially when it comes to restaurants… But anyway, it’s late and I’m in dire need of sleep. Ciao for now.

A Rude Awakening

Posted 11 Sep 2006 — by Andy in Tokyo
Category Events, Food, Japanese Language, Only in Japan, Photography, Tokyo, Video, Weather

At around 3am this morning I witnessed the biggest thunderstorm I have ever seen in my life. Without any warning whatsoever the heavens opened, lightning struck surrounding buildings disturbingly frequently, and the thunder was loud enough to violently shake the windows.

And I didn’t get any of this on camera. Bugger.

Giving the god a good hard shake

Kichijoji Matsuri was held this weekend, meaning lots of people walking around in blue pyjamas getting drunk, carrying mikoshi around the local area (portable shrines used to carry gods. God taxis – cool!). Apparently the gods quite enjoy being shaken around a bit to wake them from their slumber, although I’m not sure if anyone has ever actually asked the gods for their opinion on this matter.

There were many different mikoshi, carried by different teams. Some of the more active (i.e. one sake too many) groups can get pretty vocal, like this set of individuals here:

Mmm... crabs

There’s also loads of food stalls to have a wander around (and yes, the ubiqitous kebab trucks are here as well. There’s just no escaping them). I’m especially fond of the fried baby crabs. They’re soft enough to be eaten whole, legs and all, and they’re fantastic. I’m quite aware they look like something out of The Thing, but really, they’re great!

In other news, we attended a residents group meeting for our apartment, which was about as interesting as it sounds. Most of the people living in our place are retired so we were the youngest people there by a good thirty years. Luckily they’re all really nice, and had some particulary amusing ideas on what should be done in case of The Big Earthquake (ten years overdue, apparently). Nakada-san – the group leader and ex-university professor – suggested climbing the stairs to the roof and waiting for a fire service helicopter to pick them up. His wife kindly pointed out that the fire service might have a few more important matters to attend to in a city of 30 million people.

Tokyo's suburban sprawl

One exeptionally good point to come out of the meeting was that we were given the key to the rooftop. Apparently we should have been given it when we moved in last year but Nakada-san forgot. The views from the rooftop are supoib, you can see Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, even Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Tower (yes, I know you can’t see very much in the photo, but trust me, you can see it). We’re also allowed to have parties and stuff up there any time we like which is great during summer. Apparently the old folks are having a full moon party next month, which I absolutely must attend at all costs.

Tokyo skyline (sort of)

I’ve foolisly decided to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test in December, although recently I’ve put in absolutely no effort in when it comes to studying. Methinks I should stop writing this and get some revision done!