This is a special edition podcast on the reading section for the N4 level only, so if you aren’t study for that exam, you might want to go ahead and skip this podcast. Don’t go too far though, because I’ll be going over each level of the test over the following weeks or you can listen to the JLPT N5 Reading section podcast if you are taking that test.
The JLPT N4 Reading Section consists of 10 questions, 4 short passage questions (100 ~200 characters), 4 medium passage questions (~450 characters), and 2 information retrieval questions (~400 characters). For this level, as well as for the N5 level, these passages are original, meaning they have been specifically written for the test.
Topics for the passages will range from Japanese customs to current trends inside Japan, so it helps to stay up on Japanese culture. There will also probably be a fake advertisement or a mock set of rules or instructions on how to, for example, reserve a meeting room or when to throw out your garbage. They may also be about events or how to enter a contest or something similar.
The key thing to look out for at this level is that there will probably be one keyword in the question that you have to catch. In other words it won’t be asking for the most obvious information. There will most likely be a small trick in each question. If you are rushing through the test, you might read the question too fast and miss the one keyword that can change the whole meaning of what they are asking, so be careful.
So, how do you prepare for this section? Well, you can pick up some kids books to read if you are in Japan. These will have a lot of kana in them, but may also have a lot of odd vocabulary that won’t be covered on the test and might be of limited use to you. You can also use any intermediate level text. The Intermediate series from Japan Times (shown in the image above) or Minna no nihongo series are both good. They both have some kana/kanji reading in them.
Another option, is to sign up for JapanesePod101.com. With a basic subscription, you can download the pdfs for any lesson and each pdf has a kana version of the dialog used in the lesson, as well as an English, romaji and kanji version. In the interest of full disclosure, I am an affliate of JapanesePod101.com, but I do use the product on a daily basis (I have a premium subscription), and can speak for its value.
Have you taken the N4? If so, what kind of topics came up on the test? What did you find difficult about the test?
Let me know in the comments below!
P.S. I’m now in iTunes. If you like the podcast, please be sure to visit iTunes and leave me a review. If you have comments or suggestions for the podcast, by all means let me know in the comments below or contact me and let me know what I can do to improve the show. Thanks! Music by Kevin MacLeod