What to do after the July 2013 JLPT (Top 10)

What to do after the July 2013 JLPT (Top 10) post image

Now that the July test is over and done with, what do you do? Even if you didn’t take the test, the summer is here and it is time to party, and doing some regular studying is probably one of the last things you want to do when you could be out doing summer stuff.

So, what are some things that you can do with your Japanese studies to spice things up? How can you get things going again? Well, here are 10 things you can do to change it up a little.

10. Spread Japanese

Millions of years ago when I was working away in my cubicle farm in the States, I used to put up a word of the day in Japanese on the outside wall of my cubicle. At the very least, it sparked a conversation or two, and helped spread some awareness. I always think it is important to spread that awareness of other cultures and languages as much as you can. And you might just pick up a few words in the process.

9. Cook something Japanese in Japanese

Recipes are pretty easy to understand and are generally straightforward. You also know what the final result is, so you can guess a lot of the words and steps especially if you are familiar with cooking. So, why not give a few recipes a try? Even if you are out of the country, there are a few recipes that have common ingredients. Here is an excellent blog with great recipes for free.

If you are in Japan, you might want to think of picking up a cookbook at the local recycle shop or pick one up online. I recently bought 深夜特急めし109 (Midnight Express Foods) which is packed with cheap, healthy, easy to make stuff with simple ingredients. The best part is it includes great pictures so you know what you are making.

8. Find a New Place to Study

Where you study is sometimes just as important as what you study. As a matter of fact, one whole week of the study guide kit is dedicated to choosing a good location to study. Some people need absolute quiet, others thrive in a noisy cafe. You won’t really know unless you try. So, maybe it is time to change things up a bit with a new location.

7. Look up 10 Words or Phrases you want to Use

Language is really an extension of yourself, how you like to communicate, how you like to think, etc… So, it makes sense to do some customization of your language knowledge. Take some time to wonder away from the infamous N5, N4, N# lists and find some words and phrases that you want to use to express yourself. Be as creative as possible and don’t worry about how useful the language is, just go out and use it and see people’s reactions.

6. Find some Japanese Music

Music is, in a way, the universal language, everybody can hum a song or get down to Gangnam Style. Using music to study with helps you get down the rhythm of speaking as well as have a little fun while picking up a few words here and there. If you are worried about where to pick up some Japanese tunes, just try a search on YouTube for ‘PV’ that will bring up some ‘promotional videos’ or music videos.

5. Read some Native Material

No matter what your level, it is good practice to walk through a few pieces of native material. Nowadays, more and more content is becoming available digitally, so that you can pick up ebooks very easily even if you don’t live in the country. At the very least you can read Japanese blogs.

4. Try Listening to a Podcast

There are starting to be more and more native Japanese podcasts available these days. Some of the travel podcasts are especially easy and interesting to listening to. To view Japanese podcasts, all you have to do is change the store to Japan (you don’t need a Japanese billing address to subscribe to podcasts) If you are at a higher level, the news podcasts are also pretty good.

3. Play around with a Few Kanji

Did you miss a particular kanji on this July JLPT? Is there a kanji that really drives you nuts? How about taking some time to focus on it? Look up the radicals that make up the kanji, write a mnemonic for it, or even draw a picture using the kanji. Looking at it from a different angle might be just the thing to help you master it.

2. Drop Something

Chances are, there is something that you are doing to study Japanese that isn’t all that great. Maybe that grammar drill book is just plain boring, or the book you are trying to work through is too difficult. Whatever the case may be, maybe it’s time to take a break from it, at least for a month or so. You can always pick it back up later if you need it.

1. Have a Conversation with a Native

It’s time to do it. You might think your level isn’t high enough or you are going to make a fool of yourself, but that’s all part of the learning process. Every mistake is a lesson learned so look forward to the mistakes, and have fun.

What are you going to do?

I’d like to hear about your experiences with one of these. Did you find a good J-pop album? Did you finally drop something that just wasn’t working for you? Tell me about it in the comments below.

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • lazuli July 13, 2013, 8:18 pm

    Hello I’ve found your blog recently and I’ve even subscribe to the newsletter since I think it’s good ;D
    I was about to ask you for nice podcasts and there are some in the related articles linked below your articles^^

  • mahendra July 15, 2013, 4:48 am

    I really admire the topic and content as it is suitable to every person learning Japanese.
    These are really best ten things anyone can do easily with a small effort and go far beyond the existing level of an individual.
    As you mentioned to read some “Japanes Blogs”, I will request if you can post some of the links which are not directly related to Japanese learning but some of the basic topics like hobbies/issues/culture but written in Japanese.
    Thanks for your continuous efforts Mac . 🙂
    I ll sure try these ten things and come out with flying colours in the coming December JLPT exam.

  • vivzilla July 15, 2013, 9:04 am


    I got given this book (100 recipes from japanese cooking) as a gift from my host sister from a visit to Japan in 1997. The recipes are in Japanese on the left side and English on the right. I would recommend it for people wanting to attempt number 9.

  • Brian August 27, 2013, 11:16 am

    Hi Clayton,
    I followed your free guide on The 5 biggest mistakes people make on the JLPT and it really helped me pass N3(Just got result today for July 2013 test), especially the section on reading strategies. Thank you so much, you’re a genius! I have been living in Tokyo for over 3 years and found that concentrating on the last part of each reading question was a very good observation you made. I really struggled on the reading section when I failed the N3 in December 2012 as I was not using much strategies. In general it’s a very good guide and I would definitely recommend it to people taking the JLPT. I will continue to follow your strategies and study guide in the future. JLPT Boot Camp is great!

    • Clayton MacKnight August 27, 2013, 11:48 pm

      Thanks for the kind words, I hope to see you at the higher levels. I actually failed this time around again, but did make some improvements. I just published a post about it:


      Are you taking N2 in December?

      • Brian August 28, 2013, 10:17 am

        My pleasure, I am impressed by your study methods, as I think I am not someone who is a natural at learning new languages as you seem to be. I think realistically I won’t be taking the N2 in December 2013 as the gap between N3 and N2 is too big, however I am more likely to study N2 and take N2 in July 2014. This is subject to discussion with my most experienced Japanese teacher, who may give me some better advice.

        • Clayton MacKnight August 29, 2013, 11:53 pm

          I’m not a natural, nobody really is. 🙂 I recently read a Japanese article about studying English and the teacher said there are two basic steps to learning a language:

          1. 始まる (to start)
          2. 続く (to continue)

          That’s basically it. Keep it up, if your progress seems to be leveling off, I would give yourself a big challenge like reading a whole book. That’s what boosted me to the N2 level, reading lots of books.

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