JLPT BC 102 | Post-JLPT Plans

JLPT BC 102 | Post-JLPT Plans post image
Japanese reading home

Pretty riveting stuff.

All right, so the December 2012 test is over and done with. That was a bit of a big weight on my shoulder. I was trying to not put so much pressure on myself to study and pass this year because, well, I’ve got so much stuff going on, like say running a site and taking care of the little one, that attempting to pass N1 with just one year of study was going to be pretty tricky.

And although the results haven’t come back yet. I’m pretty borderline for passing, so I am not going to completely drop studying for the N1. It is going to take a back seat though, to some of the other things I’ll be doing to study. Also, I’m just kind of sick of going through JLPT questions all the time. I want to, you know, practice using the language.

So, I’m switching my study plan to focus more on fun, non-JLPT stuff. And although there is less ‘bang for your buck’ with some of these other methods of studying, I feel like you do need to step away from drill books and JLPT-specific books in general to really be able to easily pass the test and to use the language in general.

I also have a lot of ideas for the main JLPT Boot Camp site and for the premium site as well that I just haven’t had the time to implement, so I’m looking forward to working on that as well. And, I want to continue making awesome courses over at memrise, like the introductory course I’m still working on.

Speaking Practice

Since I’ve had my nose buried in drill books over the last 5 months or so, I really haven’t done that much speaking practice except for occasionally during the day at work and running errands. I want to get more comfortable having general conversation. I’ve also noticed I started to lose my ear for Japanese. I need to warm up a little before I can understand what is being said to me.

I’m going to return back to doing some work with JapanesePod101 to practice speaking a little more naturally. I feel like they have pretty conversational dialogs, as opposed to dialogs you see in textbooks that are a little too sterile sometimes. Also, Jpod101 has a massive library, so if I don’t like something I can just practice something else.

I would like to start up another exchange with some natives to practice general conversation skills, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to find the time with my completely unpredictable schedule. In my opinion, if you study the grammar hard and are good at conversation, just having a conversation partner is all you need to learn a language.

I kind of want to try writing in Japanese as well, but that might be a tricky habit to start as well. I think that will have to be something I try to sandwich in somewhere 🙂

Fun Reading Practice

Yes! Believe or not reading can actually be fun, it doesn’t have to be a dull experience. I really enjoyed pushing my way through the first book of Harry Potter. It actually had a lot of good vocabulary in addition to the crazy magic words I had to learn.

The next book I’m going to attempt is a house-buying book. I’m seriously considering buying a house here in Japan sometime next year, and so I want to get the scoop on how to get a good deal on a house. Especially since houses here in Japan are quite different than they are in a lot of other countries.

I’ll also be continuing my constant daily review of vocabulary. I think it is really hard to walk away from studying vocabulary, especially at a higher level. It is also a great place to see smooth and measurable progress, so it is easy to stay motivated.

Post-JLPT Thoughts

Those are my thoughts about my future plans for Japanese. How about you? Are you going to switch it up? Let me know in the comments.

{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Hilary December 12, 2012, 6:45 am

    Recently, I’ve been taking Kumon’s Japanese as a foreign language correspondence course so I’m going to focus on that. I actually started doing it in October, and it’s improved my writing skills tremendously. I find when I study for the JLPT, I’m only studying how to recognize/read kanji rather than how to write them. But now, I’m getting much needed writing practice, along with vocab, grammar, speaking and listening practice.

    I have a Skype lesson every two weeks with my teacher in Tokyo, and she gave me some extra homework to prepare for the JLPT. Happily, her questions appeared on my N3 exam! That was great because I knew what the words meant and what the question was asking of me.

    I did buy an N2 textbook, even though I don’t know the results of my N3 exam. After writing it, I thought I failed the N3 but after a few days and some reflection, I don’t think it went so bad. But I’m still not sure. I don’t think I should actively start studying for the N2 exam until I get my N3 results but I just like having the N2 textbook and just being able to flip through it when ever I want to.

    • Mac December 13, 2012, 12:48 am

      I’ve always wondered about the effectiveness of the Kumon Japanese course. It seems really interesting, especially for those of us that can’t make it to a regular class because of our schedules. Good luck with the N2, sounds like you have a great psychic teacher. 🙂

  • Barbara December 15, 2012, 10:37 am

    I must admit after the test I was really fed up. I felt I’d studied so hard for the past six months often getting in fours hours a day on top of my daily workload. I’d even past mock paper and on the day it didn’t happen – sickness, room temp, having a lecture-theatre desk … So it took me a week before I could even face Japanese. Thanks to your advice Mac I started with Japanesepod101 and did some vocab at Memrise. 

    I’m now into the second of my two week plan. Basically doing 1-2 hours a night reviewing N4 and strengthening writing N4 kanji, vocabulary and particles. I’m also going through my grammar book and for each chapter I’m writing a story or series of sentences to post on Lang8. I have actually ordered some N3 books as I’m fascinated to see what it’s like and I started N3 vocab yesterday. I’m also using your calc spreadsheet to track what I’m doing. I found that there is a Minna Pre-Intermediate book so I’m using that along with lessons at Japanese Online Institue. I’m watching dramas so that I can hear the language as much as I can. I like using Japanesepod101 for shadowing and translating – it’s hard to find reading material elsewhere with English translation.

    It’s strange that when I was doing N5 and N4 there were loads of textbooks (Minna, Genki, Busy People) in multiple volumes and now there is hardly anything. I’m so use to having multiple opportunities to practise and experience the grammar. But now, well, it’s a quiz at the end of the chapter. Not sure how I’ll do my studies if it’s relying on me to construct my own drill practice…

    • Mac December 16, 2012, 4:22 am

      N3 is still a relatively new level of the test, so I think textbook makers are trying to catch up with what it all contains.

      I just noticed that they have New Kanzen Master books for this level that came out recently. NKM is generally a pretty good book for studying for the test, but the So-Matome series will be better for general over all use of the grammar. It looks like you have a pretty solid study plan though. You are definitely putting in a lot more time than most folks. 🙂

      Good luck with your studies!

  • Gail December 15, 2012, 11:22 pm

    My general plans, at least until the new year, are to just relax, watch several hours of Japanese TV dramas and read as much as I can. I’m still doing a bit of kanji study, but this is not so much about preparing for the next exam as just improving vocabulary and reading ability in general. It’s quite motivating how often I’ll notice a word from my kanji book showing up in something I’m reading or in a dialogue on a TV show.

    Every time I decide to shake up my study routine a bit, I always promise myself I will practice writing more. Somehow I never find time to do it.

    • Mac December 16, 2012, 4:24 am

      Writing is a difficult habit to get into. It is kind of like when you first start speaking (out of a classroom). There is no structure. You just have to kind of do it. The thing with writing though is that it is a little lonely and there is nobody there to push you on.

      I’d like to do more writing too. I do a lot of writing in Japanese for the material I create for the site, but it isn’t really free writing. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing.

  • Russell December 16, 2012, 5:13 pm

    My plans are to wait to see if I passed N5. If I pass I’m going to start studying for N4. If I failed I’m gonna retake N5. Sucks that they only have the test once a year in Dec in the US… Also sucks how long you have to wait to get the results.

    • Mac December 17, 2012, 1:16 am

      You might want to think about moving up and trying for N4 next year. Or at least study for it and see how it goes then choose N5 if it isn’t going as fast you’d like. I guess it all depends on your goals though. 🙂

      • Russell December 17, 2012, 5:16 am

        Hey man, cool website. You should make a feature though that notifies you by email when someone responds to your comments on the site.

        • Mac December 23, 2012, 2:43 am

          haha, I thought I did. I just switched it on (it was absent-mindedly switched off) sorry and thanks for the suggestion!

  • Tom December 16, 2012, 5:22 pm

    I took the N5. If I passed I know it’ll be by a slim margin so I’m going to keep studying at the N5 level. Even if I passed I’ll likely retake it next year to really be comfortable with all the material.

    Right now I’m also taking it a bit easy. Just some language exchange with a Japanese friend while I help him study for the TOEIC.

    • Mac December 17, 2012, 1:19 am

      Sounds like a good plan. Those first two levels are a good foundation and it is good to overlearn the material before you move up. On the other hand, it is sometimes good to challenge yourself. 🙂

  • niño January 11, 2013, 7:19 am

    glad to have found this site as the tips are very helpful!

    i have passed N5 on Dec 2010 and then took N4 last Dec 2012 (skipped a year due to workload getting bigger in 2011). not very confident with passing so i am trying to think of a “strategy” if i fail N4. do i take N4 again in july or should i go ahead and take N3?

    would also like to practice speaking/listening and i heard there were some associations where you could donate 300円 (sometimes free) and you could speak with pleasant old ladies in the ward offices to practice speaking japanese.

    best of luck in passing n1 and thanks for putting up this website!

    • Clayton MacKnight January 14, 2013, 11:35 am

      As for which test to take, I would say study for N3, but take N4. That way N4 will seem a lot easier 🙂 and are not wasting any time.

      And about practicing speaking, you can definitely find volunteers. I would recommend checking out your nearest international center. They will definitely have information on Japanese-teaching volunteers. A lot of them are pretty good, more like tutors than teachers, but very helpful practice. I used to talk with my tutor twice a week when I first came to Japan.

      • niño January 15, 2013, 1:12 am

        Thanks for the reply Mac, much appreciated!

        “As for which test to take, I would say study for N3, but take N4. That way N4 will seem a lot easier and are not wasting any time.”

        – you are 100% correct! this is what concerns me, to not waste time because if I were to take N4 again I thought I would have to “revisit” the N4 specific grammar. Turns out I can go ahead and study N3 material (and of course practice speaking) and take N4 again if need be (which goes without saying I hope I passed the N4 Dec 2012 test).


        • Clayton MacKnight January 21, 2013, 4:05 am

          np, that is what I did for N2, I took N3, but studied for N2. Sailed right through N3. It was great and good practice.

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