Feb 5, 2019
This is both a goal and a wish, but in the coming year, I am looking at improving Japanese knowledge and skills, and one of the best ways to prove myself is by doing the JLPT.
The JLPT is of course referring to the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. I have taken it only once before a couple years ago. Back then, I took it under the encouragement from the company I am working for. They are giving us a bonus for every level of JLPT we pass above N5. They claim that Level 5 is too easy to count, and that they want the bonus to be more meaningful by providing a real challenge.
The bonus is just 5000 yen, but it is quite nice, especially when the fee to take the JLPT is 5000 yen. It feels like we are given the opportunity to get a qualification for free. The first and only time I took the JLPT, I went for N3 and I passed, so I got a nice 10,000 yen bonus in the bank.
Anyway, now I have realized that I should take the next level and it is not just because of the bonus. I have looked around some higher job opportunities, and many of the ones that require Japanese knowledge state that they are looking for candidates that have passed at least the N2 level.
N2 is not easy. It uses quite a lot of different grammar forms, a significant amount of kanji, and even dabbles into keigo (polite forms). I am not quite ready for it, I understand, but I should not waste any more time and aim towards it even if I can’t quite reach it.
To help me with it, I bought a stack of JLPT studying books online. Specifically, I went onto one of those English “selling old things” pages on Facebook and bought this stack of books off someone. He was done with his studying and got his N1, so he was selling this whole stack of old books for 4500yen. I probably paid too much for what old books are worth, but seeing that offer online sparked my idea of studying and trying for a higher level, I bought them.
Flipping through each book, there really is a LOT to study. Some of the books focus on just grammar, some focus on just listening, some are all about kanji, and quite a few books in the pile are just workbooks full of practice questions. I expect that I will spend a lot of time going through practice test after practice test, find myself failing again and failing, but hopefully I will be able to learn from my failures.
I am not particularly worried about speaking, and I think that is one of my problems, actually. I am so open to speaking Japanese that I did not really mind the mistakes I was making. I would just keep speaking the broken Japanese I had and was satisfied that whoever I was talking to could understand the meaning. I just never felt the need to brush it up and polish it.
Now that I am looking at N2, I do see the difference. If I do reach N2 level, my Japanese will be more presentable. When I speak on behalf of a company, I will sound much better especially when compared to the elementary school student-like Japanese that I know I am using right now.
In 2019, I hope that this pile of books will drive me to study and improve my language skills. Then, I hope this will help me get a better job in the country. Wish me luck!
Hi! I am also aiming to pass N2 this year for the same reason you mentioned... getting a good job here in Japan. Except teaching English and IT jobs I don't see many companies hiring below N2, unfortunately. Maybe you can keep us updated with blogposts how you're journey is going along.
@Striffy Hi Striffy! I know, right? And I heard that companies are really looking for N1 holders when they say N2 is the minimum requirement. I will keep updating, and let's work hard together! Thanks for the comment!