JLPT BC 57 | Just Out of the Test

December 2011 JLPT

Oh! So that's what I'm suppose to do there!

I’ve pretty much put down all my JLPT study books for now.  It is a real relief to not have to go through more drill books and take practice tests.  I still excited to take the test, but it is also good to have it over with and be able to relax with some, admittedly less productive but more fun, ways of studying Japanese.

I feel like to really prep for the test and do well, you need to do both drill books and study books and other more ‘natural’ ways of learning the language (e.g. picking up a good book every once in awhile).  You really need both styles of learning to succeed on the test.  One is for learning the natural use of the language and the other is to sharpen the sword (JLPT drill books).

So, I’ve started reading a book a picked up a while ago called 会話がとぎれない話し方66のルール.  Roughly translated, it means ‘The 66 Rules for Uninterrupted Conversation’.  I find it a really good book to do some reading with for a variety of different reasons.

First, the book is broken up into 66 chapters that are each about 4 to 5 pages long.  Each chapter has a key point or idea that the author is trying to get across.  So, it is easy to understand what the passage is about.  Also, there is a handy cartoony schematic of the key points of the passage in each chapter.

Second, the book is on a topic that is pretty important to language learning.  I see students all the time in class that could benefit from just learning the skill of conversation in any language.  You have to be able to communicate before you can really use a language, any language including your native one.

Fresh Out of the Test

I just posted my first reactions to the exam a few days ago. Already, there have been a lot of comments and reactions from people taking the test all over the world.  It’s great to hear from everybody and all the ups and downs of each individual level.  I’d love to hear from you, so if you haven’t already commented, definitely head on over to that blog post and let me know your reactions.

To summarize though, I’m basically on the fence again with the test.  This is a little disheartening because I spent the last 5 months doing some pretty intensive studying.  Also, I can feel my language ability is a lot better than before.  I have an easier time watching TV shows, reading ads on the train and letters in the mail, as well as just being able to understand conversations people are having a lot better.  But, I still thought this test was just as hard as the July test.

Maintenance Mode

However, no matter what my results, I think I’ll be moving more towards a maintenance mode with my Japanese.  I need to work through a few drill books a few more times, so I’ll be doing that over the next few months slowly as review.  But, the main focus of my studies between now and when I get my results back will be natural studying.

I’ll be trying to work through as many books as I can because I feel like that is a great way to pick up a lot of vocabulary and the very difficult skill of reading quickly and comprehensively.  I’m going to pair that with trying to setup regular conversation practice to try to practice actually using the language and producing it.  My input has really increased, but now it is time to do some output.

I have started getting into more and more jDramas to get a bit of natural exposure to the language that way.  I find them to be pretty good and approachable source for native-level listening.  They aren’t so good for vocabulary building, but great for phrases and expressions as well as the raw skill of listening.

The one thing that I will not be slacking on in 2012 and pretty much forever is vocabulary building.  I think this is a skill that really needs to be baked in, and you have to do consistent practice in order to make it happen.  I really want to be able to have enough words to be able to at least get a faint idea of anything I come across.  I’ve also heard the biggest hurdle for N1 is vocabulary, so I want to get started on it early.

Why I’m going into Maintenance Mode

JLPT Boot Camp has come a long way from its humble beginnings.  I think when I first started I would be lucky to get a few visitors and some comments here and there, but it has since grown to be a pretty big site with a growing community.  It’s great to see such a great group of people gathered together to share ideas, and I’ve been humbled by all your words of encouragement.

So, I’d like to build JLPT Boot Camp into a little something more.  Over the next year, I will be devoting more time to expanding and improving the site with new resources.  This will hopefully include more vocabulary lists, more information about good books/resources, as well as just some general cleaning up here and there.

I’ll also be reshaping the podcast in 2012.  I’m still working out some of the technical details as to how to put it altogether, but it looks like I’ll be doing more nuts and bolts studying tips for specific levels, starting with N5.  That doesn’t mean I’ll be neglecting the other levels though!  I just feel like I can confidently teach grammar, kanji, and vocabulary from that level at this time, so that is what I’ll be starting with.  I hope to go up a level every year until I hit the big N1.

Now is the Time

Are there any resources you’d like to see on the main site?  I’ll be adding a few things in the next few months that should add a few features to the site and make it a valuable JLPT resource for everybody.  So, let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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P.P.S. Do you like all the cool stuff at JLPT Boot Camp?  Really, me too! 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!

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Music by Kevin MacLeod Photo by Oliver Kendall

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