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JLPT BC 67 | The Road Forward

JLPT 2012 PlanJEES, the organization that puts the JLPT on here in Japan, came through again this year. I received my results Feb. 9th last year, and I got them again on the same date. I was starting to get a bit anxious for the results, waiting around to see if I passed or not.

That lull between taking the test and getting the results can be a bit rough. I never know quite know what to do. Should I study for the next level? Should I try to review what I know? This time I decided to just review a lot of my vocabulary that I’ve learned, study kanji in depth, and do a lot of reading.

But, needless to say, I’m incredibly relieved that I passed N2. I now have that stress off my shoulders and can set up a new game plan for the ultimate goal, the N1.

Congratulations to Everybody!

But, before I start talking about myself, I just want to take some time to say a big congratulations to all those taking the test. Heck even getting up the motivation to go take the test means that you are serious about being a good and accurate Japanese speaker/reading/listener/writer.

But, of course if you passed the level you were going for this time, a big congrats to you. It takes some serious studying and ambition to get that little certificate. Even if you didn’t pass, but got a higher score, you know what to work on for next time, and you’ve improved!

A super congratulations goes out to all those that passed the N1 and N2 this year. These two tests are a huge step up from the rest and require you to know more than just the ‘lists’. You have to really practice your reading and listening skills before you can pass these two. You must have worked hard, so a big congrats to you.

The Road Forward

I’ve been mulling over what I should be doing going forward. It is going to be tough to choose the exact path for me. But, I have formed a rough outline of what 2012 is going to look for me and my Japanese studies. I’m sure this will inevitably change over the coming months, but here it is the sketch of it.

I’m going to practice more speaking. I’ve realized that my reading and listening skills have improved to the detriment of my speaking skills. I went into the store the other day, and had trouble asking some basic questions about some of the products.

I was a little bit embarrassed that I hold an N2, and supposedly have a pretty good competency level with the language, but hesitate to ask questions like ‘How long does the battery last?’. That should be second nature to me buy now. I’m sure I can hear and understand a question like that, but I’m not confident I could ask it easily.

Also, now that the pressure is off so to speak, I’m going to be doing a little bit more experimenting with my studying style. I want to try a couple of different things that go beyond the drill books. I feel like drill books can be of tremendous help, especially at lower levels.

But, the higher levels cover such a wide range of things, that it is hard to fit it all in one book. I think you need to journey out and do more things like reading and listening in order to fill in the gaps enough to pass.

That’s why I’ll be poking and prodding a variety of different methods to find one that works the best. Of course, I’ll be reporting back on what works and what can be scrapped here at the blog and podcast.

What I’m going to Keep Doing

I’m going to stay pretty persistent with my SRS, or Spaced Repetition System, practice. I feel like Anki was a big help and one of the reasons I passed the N2. I’ve recently switched to memrise.com which is very similar but with a gaming aspect to it. Working over there on the different courses and doing some moderating has really helped me to put some clarity to some difficult words.

I’m going to continue doing some reading with books. I’ve picked up a few books recently that are more for adults compared to the elementary kids books I was going through before. I think this will be of tremendous help to my vocabulary and grammar.

I’ll be practicing my listening with Japanesepod101 as always, but I will be branching off with some other listening practice. I’m going to try my hand at studying with jDramas by cutting them up and drilling the vocabulary and phrases I learned with Anki or memrise. I currently watch jDramas on a fairly regularly basis (1-2x/week), but I want to get a little more in depth with them.

I’m thinking about trying to do some writing here and there, but I’m not sure if I’ll have the time to get to that or not. I guess only time will tell.

How about you, what are your steps forward?

If you hit a setback and didn’t get the results that you wanted, what are you going to do to fix those weaknesses? If you achieved your goals, where are you going to go from here? Let me know in the comments below.

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What Should the Podcast be About? (select up to 3)

  • What I am doing to study and prepare (46%, 76 Votes)
  • What's it like to live/work/study in Japan (33%, 55 Votes)
  • Focus on grammar/vocab/kanji for one level (per year) (33%, 54 Votes)
  • Interviews with test takers (28%, 47 Votes)
  • Mnemonics for Kanji/Vocab/Grammar (28%, 47 Votes)
  • Japanese Culture (17%, 28 Votes)

Total Voters: 165

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Music by Kevin MacLeod Photo by Slava V

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Rissa February 15, 2012, 6:23 am

    ^^ You certainly are trucking along. Great job with passing N2, and good luck with N1. I would bet it’s really helpful to live in Japan. I’m sure you have a lot of envious followers.
    I’ve got a few books I picked up at the Kinokuniya branch in Seattle. Harry Potter, The Little Prince, and a few others. Not to mention a small collection of mangas… But the books are difficult to get through at my level. I usually just pick out a section to study. Do you have any books in particular that you’d suggest? I was thinking of getting some third grade readers and work books next time.
    I don’t know what Anki is like, so it might be better, but I was going to show you anyway. I’ve got a program called ‘Renshuu’ that’s very helpful for practicing Kanji. I like it because you don’t just practice writing the kanji over and over, it tests you using different vocabulary words that contain the kanji. Write the missing Kanji, I guess you could say. Here’s the link if you want to check it out; http://www.leafdigital.com/software/renshuu/

    I would also highly recommend using Quizlet.com. You make your vocabulary study sheet or what not then they’ve got a few games and learning/testing options. So it’s not as brain-numbing as drilling.

    Renshuu.com is also a helpful vocabulary practice site.

    Here’s an online library I found of Japanese books that’s copyright has expired so it’s legal and free. http://www.aozora.gr.jp/index_pages/sakuhin_si1.html
    A lot of this is over my head, but I did manage to find Peter Rabbit.

    For other reading practice here’s a place where people post stories they’ve written online; http://2.novelist.jp/

    Then my last suggestion, Lang-8.com. If you get into writing you can post your stories/articles and native users can proofread them for you (no cost).

    I hope I suggested something that will help with your Quest to N1. My biggest trouble with studying is that I tend to fall back on my manga books, which a a lot easier for me to read (maybe since I’ve read them a million times?). But then I wind up only remembering a lot of worthless vocabulary like ‘Hyper-Regenerative Ability’. xP

    Keep up the good work!!

    • Mac February 19, 2012, 8:05 am

      Wow, this is a really big list of resources. I kind of forgot about Kinokuniya in the states. I bet they would have a decent collection of Japanese books to choose from.

      As to what to choose it really depends on your interests. What do you like to read about in English? Or what are you really familiar with in English? That would be a good place to start. I got my start with reading young adult books that were novelizations of kids movies. They were pretty easy to follow because they were really visual. Don’t get discouraged with the Harry Potter books, it might be slow at first but it just keeps getting faster and faster.

      Also of course be sure to use Anki/memrise or another SRS to lock in the vocab that you are exposed to. There are words that common to certain types of writting that aren’t on the JLPT lists, so it is useful to pick up vocab more naturally.

      Anyway, thanks for these resources, I’ll have to dig through these over the next few weeks.

  • Mark February 15, 2012, 7:58 pm

    I think I’ll focus on reading for the next test- I found that especially hard last time.

    • Mac February 19, 2012, 8:09 am

      Haha, reading is hard for everybody 🙂 I think it is the one thing people commonly run away from and Japanese can be pretty ambiguous.

  • Mimi February 20, 2012, 9:57 am

    Dear Mac,
    Congratulations for passing N2!! Now your target is N1!

    I have already received the results (test location : Paris, France) last Thursday. I failed N1. My score is my personnel worst of all time :-(. And like most people, my weekness is the reading section!

    I have spend much time (too much) studing vocabulary, grammar and listening , but not enough on reading or… speed reading (I was not able to finish the reading section this time, which I have found much more difficult than in textbooks or that of December 2010 ).

    So, I ‘ll have to read, read and read again but I must choose more “test-like” texts.
    I will start with easy ones and textbooks to make the routine interesting, and then, quickly, I will be continue with the kind of boring texts they choose for the test…No hope for passing the text with my reading of women magazines, manga, and novels :-).

    Good luck everyone !

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