JLPT BC 143 | More Fun More Reading

JLPT BC 143 | More Fun More Reading post image

I’ve recently been really mixing up my studying to try to do some more things. I can never seem to keep my motivation up for passing the test between these lulls in action of between taking the test and getting the results back.

So, I’ve turned to doing a lot more fun and interesting studying instead of day after day of drilling. For instance, I’ve started back playing Chrono Trigger (the Japanese version) as well as some other games in Japanese on my ride home.

The main reason for this is I’ve been struggling to try to study after a long day of teaching and I sometimes end up falling asleep or not really retaining anything. I figured it was pointless to try to keep hitting the books when it just wasn’t an effective use of my time. So, I switched to playing games which involve a lot of reading like RPGs.

I’m very eagerly awaiting the results which should come out on August 26th for those that registered online and took the test here in Japan. I think online results for everybody else usually pop up the following week. Be sure to check the official JLPT site for more details about how results are handled in your area.

Of course, I will be posting a results blog post shortly after I get my results discussing what think I got wrong and what went right. I’m pretty sure I didn’t pass. At this point I’m just crossing my fingers that my score didn’t go down. Anyway, as soon as you get your results come visit the site and let me know how well you did.

Great Japanese Podcast

Bonus points for the 80s style logo.

Found a Great Podcast

I’m always on the lookout for a good podcast to practice my Japanese listening. And after my (probable) defeat on the listening section of the last test, I figured I would go looking again. I came across a great podcast called ジェーン スー 相談は踊る. It’s basically a radio advice show, featuring Jane Su as the host.

It has some pretty entertaining topics ranging from whether not to wear a bra at night to how to become a radio talent. There are times when some of the topics are a little boring, and the way that every guest announcer seems to go on about not being on the radio since forever can get on my nerves a little. But, overall, a pretty interesting show to listening to.

The pace of the conversation is sometimes a little faster than what you would normally expect, but I think that is because it is a radio show and they are always trying to fit everything they can into the limited time spot they have. Their conversations are also not scripted so it is a pretty natural flow.

At this point, I’m simply just listening to it when I can and not trying to force it. I try to listen at least once a day so I can get regular practice with it. I’d really like to be able to have a little more natural listening ability. Right now, I kind of have to be in the mood to listen.

EDIT: I mentioned in the podcast that I had no idea what ジェーン スー was.  Well, I did some research, and surprise, it’s the host’s name.  Go figure.  Sorry about the confusion.

Back to Reading Game of Thrones

I started reading Game of Thrones after a bit of absence while I was preparing for the test. It was good to get back into it, and I am starting to make good steady progress. I tend to read about 2 pages in about 20 minutes or so. This is a snail’ space to be sure, but I don’t look up that many words unless I want to double check the reading. Mostly I just guess at what is being said.

I’ve been learning some fun expressions that I use as a joke with some people. For example, 名誉に値しません (meiyouniataishimasen) means I’m not worthy of the honor. Something that Ned says to the King in the first part of the book. And yes, if anyone was still wondering “Hand of the King” is in fact “王の手” (ounote), the literal translation.

Reading it bilingually is a huge plus. One of my biggest pitfalls is losing the subject of the conversation, so I lose the context and have a hard time understanding what is going on. It also helps me with the incredibly difficult kanji that shows up often. I can use the English to look up words a little easier. I spend a little too much time hunting down complicated kanji that I probably will never see again, but it is fun.

I still don’t recommend it for general study, but if you are a fan of the series and at a higher level it might be fun to check it out and see how well you do. If you are not use to reading fantasy it might be slow at first because George R R Martin loves describing things, especially people’s clothes and that gets carried into the translation as well. That means you’ll be wading through a lot of old pieces of clothing and equipment like tunics and cloaks and the like.

Aera - Japanese reading material

Usually there are photographs, but this week there was this awesome drawing.

Picked up Aera

Aera is basically Asahi Weekly, or at least that is what it replaced. It is a weekly magazine that goes a little more in depth on some issues and topics than your regular newspaper. It seems to trend to more businessy topics, but they also focus on one particular person each week and write an in depth article about them. Overall, it is a regular, native-level read. There will be some topics that can veer into the way too much kanji category, but I found it to be pretty readable for my level.

I’ve noticed that articles are occasionally plucked from this magazine for use on the test, and that is why I ended up picking it up to see if it was a good source for the type of material that you can find on the N1. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. It has some great articles about interesting topics, as well as a good amount of photographs to help it all be a little more digestible. I’ve only made it through a couple of articles so far, but I found it to be well-worth the Y390 or so yen I plunked down for it.

My particular issue had a series of articles on foreigners in the workplace. It was basically a positive piece on how foreigners can add a new dynamic and allow companies to see things more globally, from a different angle, etc… It also went over all the issues that stand in the way of hiring and keeping foreigners including language barriers and visa issues. It ended up with the perennial topic of shrinking Japan, and how immigration might be a good solution to that.

They have a few shorter articles online that make for some good reading as well.


I’m just trying to keep studying and focused on the test. I have been spending more and more time teaching my daughter English, time that I was spending drilling vocabulary words (and writing blog posts). I’ve cut my blogging duties in half, and trying to squeeze studying in where I can, but it can be a relentless battle. I’m starting to get really anxious for those July test results.

How about you? How are you faring in this hot summer heat? Let me know your strategies below in the comments.

Photo by Photocapy

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Jude August 23, 2014, 12:39 am

    Hi, sounds like you’re having a good summer. At least you can relax about test preparation for a while.

    I’ve finally got a piece of steam-era software functioning again, and I expect great things from it. Total Recall – the first language-learning software I bought (on a disk at the grocery store) – had a feature I’ve missed since I started fooling around with the SRS programs – an auto-run display feature with an infinitely variable flash speed. You can start slow and increase incrementally to the point where you don’t know how you know the words, you just do, There’s probably an app for this, I realize, but better an old program (I think its last version was for Windows 98) than one you don’t have. It’s probably overkill for anything in the Latin alphabet, but I figure it must cut down the amount of time to build up reading speed in a different script.

    Have you taken a look at the FluentU videos yet? They could use some work on matching the audio and text to the video, but they’re getting there. For me, the video is more distracting then helpful, I’ve regretfully concluded, and time with the News Web Easy is more useful.

    Speaking of old programs, I discovered that the Let’s Learn Japanese TV series from 1986 or so is all available at YouTube, with links to the text books. This is really a great time to be a language learner, with all the material available, and free, if you’re not fussy about publishing dates. And if you don’t have to take the tests, of course.

    • Clayton MacKnight August 25, 2014, 2:39 pm

      I haven’t taken a look at the FluentU videos. I’ve been meaning to, they keep email me occasionally with updates, but then I end up not having time to really check it out. I’ll try to get to it this week. News Web Easy looks great too. I’ve never come across that before. The voice sounds computer generated though. Is it? Still it is really good practice and links up with current news.

      Anyway, thanks for reminding me about FluentU and introducing some other great resources. I’ll have to take a look.

  • Jude August 25, 2014, 4:07 pm

    I really don’t think the voices at News Web Easy (I thought I’d heard about it here? but I guess not) are computer generated – they seem a lot more fluent than even the good generated ones are now and appear to reflect appropriate expression related to the content. If it sounds a little off to you, it may be because the readers are speaking what is for them unnaturally slowly. It’s plenty fast for me, of course.

    One advantage is that with the news you are prepared for the vocabulary in advance and so don’t have to spend so much time looking things up, and, since the news isn’t – or at least news stories aren’t – entirely new every day, you can expect the vocabulary to repeat soon and that gives you both the incentive and the opportunity to learn the words.

    When I was teaching English in Prague, I tried to get my students to listen to the news in English but 1) Czech students are willing to pay to attend class for an hour a day, five days a week, but will NOT do anything outside of class – the vast majority, anyway; and 2) the news they wanted to listen to was CNN, which must use some kind of accelerating feature to speed the audio up, meaning foreigners have real problems with it. If I were giving private lessons again, I’d offer a special magic technique to teach people to understand CNN. I’d use Audacity or something to slow a clip down to a jog trot where the student could easily understand it (usually they have no problem with the vocabulary and a better understanding of the grammar than most Americans). Then, I’d just replay the audio at very slowly increasing tempos until they could understand the original clip, and then take it eventually 10% faster than normal.

    Another program is ALSong, which actually has a language-learning feature that does the same thing, and allows you to enter text (“lyrics”), which is how you could offer something other than guided listening and keep the lessons continuing after they begin getting the hang of it. I don’t know, maybe it would even speed things up for the ones who need a little extra help. (You’re welcome, and I hope you make your first million soon.)

  • Caf August 26, 2014, 6:54 am

    Hello. I am preparing for N1 and found your podcast through the Apple podcast store.

    Thank you for recommending Jane Su’s podcast.
    I am always looking for new podcasts I can use for Japanese listening practice.
    Are there any others you recommend?

    I am Australian, and one of the major radio stations here called SBS (Special Broadcasting Service) has a Japanese show which they podcast the interviews from.
    I think the level of difficulty and register of speech is usually well suited to someone preparing for N1 (although I suppose their primary target audience is native Japanese speakers who live in Australia).

    Anyway, I’ve found it useful and interesting so far, so I suggest checking it out if you are still looking for new podcasts to try out. You should be able to find it by searching for ‘SBS Japanese’.

    • Clayton MacKnight August 26, 2014, 11:41 pm

      I’ll have to give that a listen. I’m always looking for good Japanese podcasts. It doesn’t seem like the medium is developed that much here in Japan, which is a shame. I think podcasts could really take off since everyone is riding around in the train all day. But I think a lot of people prefer books or to simply veg out on their morning/evening commute.

  • Jared April 15, 2015, 3:05 am

    Hi, sorry to comment so many months after the OP but I just came across your website because after 9 years in Japan, I’m finally going to try for N1 this July. Anyway, you mentioned reading Game of Thrones simultaneously in both English and Japanese. That’s a nice idea and I was wondering if you found a bilingual version or you are just reading from two copies of the book at the same time. And if the latter, then how did you keep the two versions in sync? Did you read one chapter at at time of each? Did you read English or Japanese first? And lastly, I’ve never actually read a book in Japanese and am looking for something to get me going, and with season 5 just starting, GoT seems like a good start.

    Thanks for any advice!

    • Clayton MacKnight April 16, 2015, 2:17 pm

      I had both the books on Kindle and basically ended up reading a few pages with one (in English) then switching to the Japanese and reading it. I found reading the English first really helped fill everything in. The key is to not match them completely up, in other words, don’t read a sentence in one, then turn around and read a sentence in the other. Read the English to get the general, overall, idea, then read the Japanese. It filled in a lot of holes for me.

      GoT is definitely not a book you should start with. There are a ton of one-off fantasy words. I mean if you read the English, you know what I am talking about lots of rare use stuff like ‘moleskin’ and such. And the translation does not hold back on rare kanji either. I recommend something a little more tamer for your first outing. Even Harry Potter has more manageable vocabulary.

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