Posts Tagged ‘JLPT’

Consistency

2009年 2月 16日

My results from the level 2 Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT・日本語能力試験2級) came in the mail today. As expected, I failed again this time. I think my score actually decreased from the previous year, even though everyone insists that my actual proficiency is worlds ahead of my level a year earlier.

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JLPT Amusement and Musings

2008年 12月 8日

Sunday December 7th, 2008, a day that shall live in infamy. Another JLPT has come and gone. A lot of interesting things transpired leading up to and during the test. Here are a few observations.

Let’s start with good stuff. Last year the registration forms did not include an option for Mie Prefecture (三重県). I checked Aichi Prefecture (愛知県) on the hopes that the Aichi site would be in Nagoya (名古屋), so I could get to the test site in less than two hours. Facing the prospect of having to leave for the test at 6am, I was excited when they put the test at Mie University (三重大学), a short bike ride from here. This year’s registration forms included a Mie option, so I was assuming the same site. We all know what happens when we assume things… the test was down in Ise (伊勢市) at Kogakkan University (皇學館大学). At first, the distant train ride seemed a hassle, further, the lack of nearby convenience stores was less than ideal; however, the rooms were large and heated, and the furniture was spacious and comfortable. Overall a good facility, I won’t mind if it is there next year.

My Japanese teacher was surprised that my test facility was in Mie because she knew students who had to go all the way to Kyoto (京都) for their tests. Chatting with some colleagues on the train, I discovered that at least one person had accidentally checked the Kinki region (近畿日本). It is a common misconception that we are part of the Kinki region: having Kinki Nippon Tetsudo (近畿日本鉄道) as our main rail provider only promotes this idea. If you are registering for the test next year, check your region carefully. The forms are awkward in that sometimes they list cities, sometimes prefectures, and sometimes regions. I would much prefer that they just list cities and leave it up to us to check a map and figure out which is closest.

People taking the Level 2 JLPT are assumed to be at a high level; however, there was a major screw-up in my testing room. Our answer sheets (解答用紙) and test booklets (問題用紙) had been laid on our tables and we were awaiting the signal to open the books. The main proctor announced, “The test will begin in about one minute.” (後1分程試験が始まります。), and suddenly, more than half of the test takers opened their booklets. I nervously sucked air through my teeth in very Japanese fashion, wondering the whole time how level 2 students could have misunderstood that… perhaps there’s a reason the ‘listening’ portion of the test is the lowest scored every year. One person seemed to actually be writing answers on their sheet. Technically, they could have been thrown out of the test at that point and the rules are pretty strict; yet, no action was taken. My only guess is that they had about six red cards to hand out and would have needed about 60. When the second section started the message changed to, “In about two or three minutes the test will begin. Please wait as you are until then.” (A few people opened at that time.)

Meanwhile in the level 3 room, someone asked a question out loud as the tests were being passed out and they immediately received a red card. Waste of 5000 yen and a years worth of study.

Understanding is only skin deep! Every year, the reading comprehension and grammar (読解・文法) section of the level 2 test has six subsections. The second section is a short (less than one page) casual essay followed by roughly five questions. Imagine my joy when I could grasp the whole story and read through it several times faster than the other reading problems. Now imagine my despair when I couldn’t grasp what they wanted for answers on the questions. Two others, who seemed prepared for the test, reported similar problems. Clearly, I need to work on my reading comprehension skills. My work and lifestyle have included excessive conversation, so my language strength lies in speaking and listening. By the way, the story was about a couple finding a penguin in a back alley in Roppongi (六本木). What a surprise… or was it a penguin at all?

At least a third of our room was Chinese students. They know thousands of kanji before they come to Japan, so the first section of the test could be done in their sleep. It was disconcerting to hear people flipping two pages forward before I finished a half page. Since the test is not on a curve, and I was expecting to have ample time, I quickly forgot about them. Strangely, when I finished, everyone else seemed to be working furiously. Did I miss a section? Or was I fast because I was uncertain on so many and just chose quickly from the answers I couldn’t eliminate?

My idea to handle the Reading/Grammar section out of order also seemed to help me and a couple people to whom I explained my theory. My recommendation was to do the subsections in the order 4, 5, 6, 3, 2, 1 or 4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3. When I eventually write up my testing recommendations and preparation recommendations, I will include my reasons for the order and might adjust it a bit.

Anxiety is a funny thing. A friend passed a sample test at their home with an 80 percent score, yet insisted they weren’t ready. 60 percent is required to pass. After the test they were still concerned. I’m guessing she’ll be fine in February when her passing (合格) grade comes back.

That’s enough for now…

Preparation for Japanese Language Proficiency Test

2008年 12月 6日

Nine short hours from now I will head for the train station to make another attempt at the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT・日本語能力試験). Being sick for several weeks, tied up with special events, and teaching friends on the side; not to mention getting sucked in by the Stargate, have all kept me from studying as much as I would like. What’s the number one rule for taking tests? Don’t get stressed out.

My choice was to be laid back and have a nabe (鍋) party tonight. We ate lots of brain food, drank a bit of beer, and discussed seventh century Asian history for kicks. Hopefully, living in Japan, speaking Japanese everyday, and being well rested will carry me through the test tomorrow. Regardless, I had fun tonight.

Since I met my girlfriend in January, I think my perspective has been shifting. If I bond my life to hers, I have to be ready to spend many, many years here; hence, failing the exam doesn’t concern me so much, since, “There’s always next year.”

Also, I only failed by four percent last year and have learned a lot about approaching the test. One key is that the Reading/Grammar section is ordered to make people run out of time and fail. The first two subsections are loaded with reading for a small number of points. The remaining subsections require about one sentence of reading for each answer. These latter sections clearly carry the most points per time; a wise test taker would attack them first. Merely taking this approach should improve my score by several points. I’ll report more on Monday. Not tomorrow because, of course, I must enter the Sunday Soundcheck… and it will have a bit of a twist.

Linked by a Japanese Blogger

2008年 11月 20日

Wow, I was taking a peek at my traffic – being curious how my infrequent posting habit affects flow – and spotted an interesting link. A Japanese blogger referenced my site. One might think it is a sign that I have truly arrived and don’t need to pass that silly JLPT (日本語能力試験); however, I was a little deflated when I read the direct reference to my site.

The author says he thinks I translated some of Natsume Soseki’s work (夏目漱石). Unfortunately, I can’t take credit; I was reading a copy that contained both the original Japanese text and an English translation. I included this post mostly for my own reference, so I can go back and read through his blog when I have more time on my hands.

Officially Registered

2008年 11月 19日

My name and address over my mail slot suddenly went to pot a month ago. I was meaning to get it replaced right away, but I got busy and the mailman knows where I live. A week ago I started thinking I made a big mistake. The Japanese Language Proficiency Test (日本語能力試験・JLPT) has very strict rules, one of which is that your name and address must be posted in Roman letters and Japanese characters or your test registration will be returned to the test center as undeliverable. I expected the notice in the first week of November, so I thought I was out of luck and had shot another 6000 yen down the drain.

I was getting ready to write another post about how the JLPT isn’t so much a test of language ability as it is a test of willingness to follow peculiar procedures; however, today my card finally arrived. Last year the test site was within a short bike ride at Mie University (三重大学), but this year I am registered at a university down in Ise (伊勢市). I don’t know if they changed locations this year, or if they added a site and I got unlucky. In any case, it will mean I need to get up earlier this year.

Once again, I am behind on studies and there are less than three weeks remaining before test time. If I can keep myself away from Battlestar Galactica, SG-1, Atlantis, Veronica Mars, CSI, and this month, digitally remastered Star Trek, then there should still be time to get ready to pass the test. Unfortunately during my illness, a lot of Sci-Fi in English has been my convalescing entertainment choice.

If You Haven’t Done it Yet…

2008年 9月 12日

…then you are too late. Once again, the registration period for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT・日本語能力試験) has come and gone. Once again, I got distracted and waited until the last minute to get registered. Officially I got my registration postmarked today for the Level 2 (二級) test. This year I noticed they made it easier to forget to register; the registration packets went on sale in July, but the registration period didn’t begin until August. This test organization creates a lot of ways for people to screw up; I decided they aren’t testing our language ability as much as our willingness and ability to jump through hoops.

That said; my language abilities certainly weren’t up to snuff last year, so I better get cracking on the studies now. Last time I took a beating on the reading comprehension section, which is half of the test. This time, I will focus more effort there.

I promised to write up advice on how to pass the test and details about the extra test session next year. I’ll try to get around to both of those soon. Meanwhile, I hope everyone who wanted to get registered this year was more on the ball than me.

T Minus Nine Hours

2007年 12月 2日

I will be taking the Japanese Language Proficiency Test level 2 (JLPT・日本語能力試験2級) in exactly nine hours, so I better go to bed now. Hoping to get 7 hours sleep and eggs and bacon at Denny’s before the test. I have studied a bit this week and have some chance of passing, but it will be close.

Reading and Grammar (読解・文法) is half of the test and I haven’t done well in that area on the sample tests. Kanji and Vocab (文字・語彙) are OK and Listening (聴解) is fine. Those two are each 25% of the test. Guess it would have been smart to focus study time in the fat category…