2014 was an interesting year for Japan. The biggest story was the increase in the consumption tax in an attempt to pay down the debt and finance some other projects. This turned out to be one of those great ideas in your head and on paper, but in reality, it was one of the worst things you can do to an economy just trying to get back on its feet.
I took a break from the Decemember test to kind of regroup and get some things done with my family. I found that I had really been putting off a lot of things that needed to get done around the house and with my life. I’m still trying to catch up with everything that I want to complete. I would like to try the test again soon, but I’ m not sure if that is going to be possible in July or not.
And it was a big year for the site as well. The site grew about 25% in size. I welcomed a lot more new visitors and tried my best to expand some of the content that I started earlier. I’d like to share today some of the best and most popular content on the site that I created over the last year in case you missed any of the good bits and pieces.
Reactions and Results
My first reactions and results posts tend to always be the most popular posts on the site. Mostly because so many people stop by to share all their experiences and what they thought helped them pass the test. This is an excellent place to start if you are just starting to think about taking the test because you can learn about some of things you need to look out for.
For example, statistically speaking, listening seems to be a weakpoint for most people that take the test overseas (i.e. outside of Japan). And a lot of the comments from last December’s test reflect that in a way.
I also noticed that a lot of people fall into the trap of just drilling kanji, vocabulary and grammar and neglect listening and reading comprehension skills, which actually still play a big part even in the lower tests. For the higher tests, I would say the reading and listening comprehension is the main part of the exam. Getting into a habit of doing regular reading of a variety of materials is a good place to start.
Anyway, check out some of the comments to a few of these posts, I’m sure you’ll pick up a few pointers here and there.
And stay tuned, late this month, I will have another post for the results of the December 2014 test.
JLPT Study Guide
I’ve been updating and adding to the JLPT Study Guide kit now for about 2 years. Last year, one of my major additions was to add a sample month by month JLPT study guide to help people get an understanding of what to do when to prepare for the JLPT. Each month I focused on a handful of items that you need to do to stay on track and get the best possible score, including how to setup your vocabulary study routine to how to cram for the test if you find yourself in a bind at the last minute. It is all there.
JLPT Study Guide Month 1 – In month 1, I go over all you need to do to get an initial assessment of your level and then use that to plan out what you need to do in order to pass the test. I also go over some great free and paid resources that you can use as you move toward passing the test.
JLPT Study Guide Month 2 – In month 2, we work on fine-tuning your study plan to make it match your particular studying style. If you are having trouble finding time to study, we will hunt down a few more pieces of time to get more studying in. I also go over some tweaks you can put in place for learning grammar and reading.
JLPT Study Guide Month 3 – Production is critical to learning and mastering a language. So in month 3, we work on how to squeeze in some writing into your studies. I also talk about how you need to feed and exercise the two systems of thinking that you need to master a language (or anything). Production is critical to learning and mastering a language.
JLPT Study Guide Month 4 – Now that you have a good pattern of studying setup and working for you, it is time to change it. Doing the same thing over and over, tends to dull the senses and makes you lose focus a bit. This month, we will refocus you put you back on track.
JLPT Study Guide Month 5 – Review. Nobody likes it, but it is critical to locking in the key pieces of grammar and vocabulary you will need for the test. I go over some ways to review and over-learn the material you need. There are also some tips for July test takers.
JLPT Study Guide Month 6 – Maintaining focus over long study sessions can be a bit troublesome. This month, we work on timeboxing, a technique you can use to keep focused on specific tasks and maximize your study time.
JLPT Study Guide Month 7 – We go over how to ease into production of Japanese. This can be a major hurdle that a lot of students have a hard time getting over, but one that is necessary to really master the language. I go over the steps you can take to make the trip a lot less painful.
JLPT Study Guide Month 8 – We tackle diagnosing some common problems that you might have had on a practice test or the real test. It’s important to make use of what you learned about your weaknesses to fine tune your studies in this final stretch before the exam in December.
JLPT Study Guide Month 9 – With 2 months to go before the test, we shift priorities away from drilling of vocabulary and grammar to practicing your comprehension skills. This is a crucial step that a lot of people overlook before they go into the exam.
JLPT Study Guide Month 10 – It’s time to over-learn what you already know. I call this phase the sharpening of the sword. You’ve spent months building a strong foundation, now is a good time to refine that skill so that you can use automatically without hesitation.
JLPT Study Guide Month 11 – Some kind of cramming is inevitable before any major test. So how do you cram effectively without burning out? I go over the top 10 things you can do to cram well and get the score you deserve.
N5 Grammar Lessons
The N5 video grammar lessons is a popular series that I started in 2013, and I continued into 2014. I only have a few more videos to do before I cover all the grammar for N5. I should be completed with everything by the summer of 2015. You can pick up the guide and the JLPT Kit now if you are looking for more information and details about the grammar that is critical for this level. Here are a few of the key units that got a lot of views in 2014:
Every month, I publish a culture podcast where I put perspective on some of the cultural aspects of Japan. I’ve covered topics ranging from the outrageous debt to the myths about sex in Japan. Here are a few highlights from this year:
I’ve been married now for over 5 years and I’ve learned a lot from trial and error that I share in this special post. I go over my personal experience and break apart some of the pitfalls that a few people tend to fall into when finding their soulmate in Japan. A must-listen if you plan on staying in Japan for any amount of time.
Some people come to Japan simply for a working holiday, while others stay a lifetime. What separates the ones that throw in the towel and the ones that stay? I go over some of the typical types you can find in Japan.
How about you?
Is there anything you would like to see more of on JLPT Boot Camp next year? Let me know in the comments below.
Photo by TravelBusy.com