I started a new reading book for the N2 (and the N1) called 試験に出る読解 (reading comprehension that is on the test). It is definitely an amazing book, but not for the faint of heart. The book is entirely in Japanese, including the advice and explanations of the key points, which is a great challenge in my opinion.
The book is basically broken out into 40 days of activities. The first 10 days of the book focuses on some fundamental training, and then the remaining 30 days contains reading exercises of different types. Take note though that the last 30 days are split pretty much 50/50 N1/N2. So, about 15 of the days are for only N2 and the other 15 days are for only N1.
This makes the book a great buy because you have your reading comprehension book for both N1 and N2. However, It doesn’t have all that many exercises to practice with. I recommend doing this book after you do the So-matome Reading Comprehension Book for N2 because the So-matome book is easier than this one, but 試験に出る is a lot closer to the real level of the test.
The book also contains two 模擬試験 or mock tests, one for N1, and one for N2. They contain a complete set of questions like what you would see on the reading comprehension section of the actual exam.
Anyway, if you are having trouble with the reading comprehension section of the N2 or N1 exams it might be worth picking up. I’m getting my money’s worth at least.
Learning Japanese from Video Games
I’m always on a constant quest to increase my exposure to Japanese. I find the more exposure you have with the language the more comfortable you become and more things seem to just come naturally to you.
Exposure doesn’t exactly increase your vocabulary or make you speak better, but it does help reinforce and strengthen what you already know. It’s helped clarify a lot of different meanings of words and grammar when I see it in several different contexts.
One easy way to increase the amount of Japanese exposure you are getting is to replace all the things you normally consume in your life with Japanese versions. So, if you watch a lot of TV shows in English, just swap them out for TV shows in Japanese. If you listen to a lot of music, start listening to Japanese music and so forth.
I happen to like to play video games from time to time. One game that I’ve grown up with my whole life is Civilization, now in its 5th incarnation, Civilization 5. So, I figured I’d try to play my favorite game in my favorite language to learn and see what happened.
Just to give you a brief description of what the heck Civilization 5 is, it’s a civilization building strategy game. In the game, you must build cities, research new technologies, and build armies. You can eventually win the game by dominating the other nations, doing a lot of research, or having a great culture. It’s a bit of a cerebral game to say the least, with a lot of reading to do, which I figured would make it a great candidate for learning Japanese.
Motivation to Learn Baked Right In
Another reason why I thought video games would be an excellent way to practice Japanese is that motivation to do well is baked right into the game. In order to play the game properly, you have to understand what your advisers and heads of nations are telling you in the game.
At certain times you have to negotiate carefully with other leaders or risk going to war. So, it’s important to figure out what the heck they are saying otherwise you will meander carelessly through the game and that isn’t all that fun.
On top of that, you need advise from your advisers as to what to do with your nation. This, too, is written in all Japanese.
That’s all Good but, …
The game uses a lot of obscure kanji, especially for a lot of the different kinds of military units. I’ve spent a lot of time looking these characters up stroke by stroke, which can be a real drag, as it slows down game play.
Also, you might have already guessed this but, it’s not exactly packed with JLPT type material. Although there is a lot of good vocabulary practice, I had a hard time finding anything that would be valuable for the test.
The voices in the game are still in English, which tends to be a common trait in most Japanese video games. I guess they don’t want to pay for an extra set of voice actors.
Anyway, overall I found it was a good way to blow a few hours a week with some exposure to the language here and there. As long as you aren’t incredibly busy and don’t care that you aren’t doing ‘maximum’ efficiency studying, it can be a good relaxer that increases your exposure.
Make a Statement
Have you played any import games or Japanese games? Are they any good ones out there that have a good amount of reading to them? Let me know in the comments below.
P.S. Do you like to play video games all day? Awesome! You should join my newsletter!
P.S.S. Did you become a gaming addict? Then, you should leave me a comment on 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