The July test has come and gone and now we are into the off season of studying. This is where I usually try to take a step back and lay out what I’m going to do until the next test. You can say that I go back to ‘regular’ studying.
As a part of this process, I try to set some short term goals to achieve before the next test comes. It’s important to take a deep look at your goals every 6 or so months to see if you are A) still on track B) doing stuff that is effective C) having fun and staying motivated
Studying any language is not just about the test. It’s about actually being able to use it and I feel like it’s crucial to try to balance studying for the test and real life usage and experience with the language.
If you think you can pass the test by just studying and not using the language, think again. It’ll be pretty tough for you to pass N2+ just by studying the lists and the textbooks alone. You need some hands on experience with the language.
So, I’m going to try to stay away from books specifically for the test. I will keep reviewing and going back through the books to make sure everything sticks, but it will no longer be my primary goal. To be honest, I want to have a little bit more fun with the language while improving skills I need for the test.
How does one have fun while studying for the JLPT? You might ask. Well, I’ll tell you my approach. Tell me what you think.
I picked up a few Disney movie novelizations that I’m going to start working my way through. The first one is Ratatouille. You might not be a big Disney fan, but these books are incredibly easy to read. They have furigana for all the kanji and since I’ve already seen the movie I can easily visualize the characters.
This helps in a variety of ways. First, I can simply guess the meaning of a lot of words from context because I’ve seen the movie and have a general idea of what is going on. Second, Disney movies have fairly simple plot lines. In other words, this isn’t going to be a murder mystery with a twist. Third, since it’s a movie novelization it is incredibly visual. I can easily imagine the different scenes, which makes the vocabulary that much easier to remember.
You may think that this is of no use for the JLPT and you are partially right. But, there are sometimes portions of novels on the N3, N2, and N1 tests. So, it will come in handy for those. Also, it will simply get you use to reading long passages of Japanese. The physical skill of being able to read for long periods of time in Japanese is something you will have to work on for N2+, if you aren’t a Japanese college student anyway.
I will admittedly try to supplement this here and there by reading some logical writing. The kind of writing that has logical connectors like につき、際に、に先立ち, etc…
For something different, I’m going to finally try tackling jDramas. They will mostly be filled with more conversational Japanese and full native speed speaking. I’m having some serious problems with listening to native speakers at full speed, so I’m hoping this will alleviate that. Also, I’ll be able to pick up more conversational Japanese to use when I talk to people.
I also want to increase my listening stamina. So being able to listen to all Japanese for a long period of time would be quite useful for life and for the test. I still sometimes start to tune out after awhile in a conversation that is all in Japanese.
I’ll be backing this up with a lot of ondoku (speaking out loud) practice of most of the intermediate and lower intermediate material on JapanesePod101. I think speaking as much as possible is actually a great way to improve listening. The only problem is sometimes another human being is not always handy. So, just talking to yourself can almost be just as effective despite the fact that anyone within earshot might think you are a tad crazy.
What about you?
What are some short term goals you have for the rest of 2011? Are you working toward achieving those goals?
If you did take the test in July, how did that affect how you are studying now? How are you adjusting your schedule to strengthen your weaknesses?
P.S. If you are a huge Disney fan and love getting free study tips sent to your email every week, maybe you should think about joining my newsletter.
Photo by David Sim