After I took the N2 test in July of 2011 and failed it (by about 15 points), I discovered one of my weaknesses was listening. This should be kind of obvious to me because I hadn’t up until that point spent much time practicing listening. After all, I live in Japan and hear Japanese every day on TV and at work.
However, this isn’t always enough. The JLPT is meant to cover all everyday conversations not just a few of them, and I haven’t been exposed to a lot of say directions given to me by a superior. I also haven’t really had to take that many notes while listening to Japanese so I really didn’t have that skill when I took the test in July.
And it really showed in my score. So, I resolved to do a little something about it by picking up the New Kanzen Master N2 Listening book and seeing what it was all about. It couldn’t possible hurt right? What I learned though was well worth the price of admission. I would say this is one of the best books you can get to prep for the JLPT N2.
1st Section – Introduction to the Test Questions
In the first of the 3 sections of the book, the authors go over each type of question that you will find on the listening section of the JLPT N2. They only go over one question of each type, but it is enough to give you a general idea of what to look out for while you are working your way through the book.
With each question there is a transcript on the next page and a brief explanation of the answer. This helps raise your comfort level on what to expect for each type of question, but doesn’t really give you too much detail on how to answer each.
2nd Section – Listening Strategies
In the second section the book goes over a whole wealth of listening strategies that you can use on the test. Here you’ll find some things that you won’t find in a lot of other prep books for the JLPT N2. The other books tend to just simply be drill books and sample questions, but in this section the New Kanzen Master N2 Listening book really gives you, your money’s worth with some rich strategies.
The 1st chapter simply goes over some general listening practice. For example, you learn the rules of shortening phrases in spoken Japanese. This is something that had never really been properly explained to me before, but definitely shows up on the test a lot. To give you just one example, in written Japanese we would say something like 食べてしまう, but in spoken Japanese it would be 食べちゃう.
They also have some good practice for listening for long and short vowels as well as stops (っ). This might seem elementary, and I did in fact remember practicing this when I was studying for 三級 (N4), but it serves as a short little reminder of how important a little っ is.
After the 1st chapter, each chapter goes over specific strategies for the questions on the test. This includes a variety of phrase cheat sheets to practice from. There are charts for all the ways to agree or disagree (there are about 14 or 15 ways actually) and other charts that go over if the speaker is doing the action or the listener is doing the action.
Other chapters go over how to properly take notes for each style of question. They go over specific ways to chart out and answer the questions so that you don’t get lost and disorganized during the listening section. This was a major boon for me, I felt like it really helped me in the last two or three questions of the exam, where the question is not given to you before hearing the conversation and you have to take good notes in order to answer the question when it is given to you at the end.
3rd section – 1 Mock Test
The final section contains one full mock test of only the listening section of the JLPT. This includes the same number of questions as the actual test. It is also about the same level as the real thing too. So it provides great realistic practice for the exam.
The only issue with this mock test is that it doesn’t contain any explanations of the questions. This isn’t very helpful, especially if you don’t have a tutor or native speaker friend to ask questions too. It provides great practice, but if you’d like a little bit more feedback or are still having problems with the test questions, I would recommend picking up a full mock test for N2.
Where to Get it
If you are outside of Japan, a good place to pick up the New Kanzen Master N2 Listening is at White Rabbit Press. They always tend to offer the best pricing and fastest delivery from Japan. If you are inside Japan, you can pick it up at Amazon.co.jp of course or at a major bookstore in a major metropolitan area.
What’s your Take?
Have you tried this book out before? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
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