Kraemder's attempt at JLPT N1 (Japanese)

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kraemder
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Kraemder's attempt at JLPT N1 (Japanese)

Postby kraemder » Fri Aug 28, 2015 2:00 am

I'll be signing up for the JLPT N2 this year (again). I tried last year but didn't make it - I was taking Korean at a local community college though and wasn't taking any Japanese classes. I feel I could have passed had I put the time I did into Korean into Japanese instead. Anyway, it's a hard test so I'll need to do my best. I've been studying Japanese for about four years now. I already passed the N3 test a couple years ago now so N2 is very reasonable I think. I mostly study on my own but I do online lessons occasionally. I've found the online lessons really have helped my speaking and listening but not so much for the vocabulary and the grammar peculiar to the N2 test. It's mostly up to me to drill that I guess. I'm finally going to be able to visit Japan in September. I'm using vacation time to take 3 weeks off to go Tokyo and study at Genkijacs. Why the studying? I don't have anyone to travel with so it's a good way to meet people and studying Japanese is more or less my hobby so it's fun. A lot of Japanese people are surprised that I can speak more or less fluently when I talk with them on Skype despite being a self learner. I give a lot of credit to that for taking online classes at Japanese Online Institute. They actually teach grammar in their lessons and it's not too bad at all but since there's no structure and they just randomly pick a grammar point for each class - you don't get the repetition you need to learn it well. At least that's my experience. They track how many times you've taken a lesson regarding a grammar point and encourage you to do 3 classes for each point. I checked my progress and I got 2-3 in for a lot of N3 grammar points but somehow N2, although I've taken many N2 classes, I'm nowhere near close. I think there's too much N2 grammar? Whatever the reason I don't feel like they helped my grammar a lot but they only speak Japanese and this did wonders for me otherwise.

Anyway. Japanese is such a difficult language and it has little in common with English and the Kanji system makes it especially difficult. Consequently, I am always wondering how to best tackle this language. I never had this problem with Spanish/German. I always felt whatever I did was getting me good results. Mostly read. Japanese it just never feels like I'm doing it quite right. I've relied a lot on flashcards either using Anki or other SRS flashcard systems. I'm currently using the flashcards built into Japanese for iOS. It's stupid easy to add vocabulary and or kanji which is pretty much why. I bought the kanji cards from White Rabbit a while ago but haven't used them much. They have six vocabulary words on each card and it just doesn't seem like a good way to study? I mean it's good to group words by kanji (I think) but having six words on a flashcard seems like a lot? Oh well. They seem to have gotten good reviews but I can't seem to get into them.

I'm not making the best progress with the SRS flashcards in Japanese for iOS right now either. I made the cards using some online fantasy stories I found. It just doesn't seem to be clicking for me. At least not last night or tonight. It could just be I've got a few things going on in my head and so studying is a bit o fa challenge. The method may be good. I really want to try to read more and I feel like I have to review or I won't learn properly.

*edit*

I passed the N2 December 2016, so I renamed this blog accordingly.
Last edited by kraemder on Sun Apr 23, 2017 12:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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kraemder
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Re: Kraemder's attempt at JLPT N2 (Japanese)

Postby kraemder » Sat Aug 29, 2015 9:46 pm

Just looking at some of the pics on iTalki of some Japanese people. Let's be honest. From a westerner's perspective, kimono's (probably the summer style ones) look a lot like bathrobes. It kind of looks like they're going out in public dressed just in a bathrobe.
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dampingwire
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Re: Kraemder's attempt at JLPT N2 (Japanese)

Postby dampingwire » Sat Aug 29, 2015 10:15 pm

kraemder wrote:Just looking at some of the pics on iTalki of some Japanese people. Let's be honest. From a westerner's perspective, kimono's (probably the summer style ones) look a lot like bathrobes. It kind of looks like they're going out in public dressed just in a bathrobe.


I'm assuming this isn't going to be the first thing you say when you land :-)

Best of luck with N2 (and with the trip too!).
2 x
新完全マスター N2聴解 : 94 / 103新完全マスター N2読解 : 99 / 177
新完全マスター N2文法 : 197 / 197TY Comp. German : 0 / 389

vonPeterhof
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Re: Kraemder's attempt at JLPT N2 (Japanese)

Postby vonPeterhof » Sun Aug 30, 2015 2:02 am

kraemder wrote:Just looking at some of the pics on iTalki of some Japanese people. Let's be honest. From a westerner's perspective, kimono's (probably the summer style ones) look a lot like bathrobes. It kind of looks like they're going out in public dressed just in a bathrobe.

Well, the proper term for the summer kimono is 浴衣, with the characters literally spelling out the meaning "bath-robe", so it's not like they aren't aware of it :)
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brilliantyears
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Re: Kraemder's attempt at JLPT N2 (Japanese)

Postby brilliantyears » Sun Aug 30, 2015 9:30 pm

Just here to wish you good luck with JLPT N2!

If you want to drill N2 vocab and grammar specifically and are still looking for a good method, 日本語総まとめ worked pretty well for me (am convinced it's the main reason I passed last year). Memrise has a few good vocab lists based on the books as well.
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iguanamon
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Re: Kraemder's attempt at JLPT N2 (Japanese)

Postby iguanamon » Sun Aug 30, 2015 10:46 pm

I wish you good luck too, Kraemder. May the Japanese force be with you!
Last edited by iguanamon on Mon Aug 31, 2015 5:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Brun Ugle
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Re: Kraemder's attempt at JLPT N2 (Japanese)

Postby Brun Ugle » Mon Aug 31, 2015 1:25 pm

Good luck! Your log shows me what I could achieve with Japanese if I just stuck to it and didn't give up every few years and then start again. You have flown right past me.
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kraemder
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Re: Kraemder's attempt at JLPT N2 (Japanese)

Postby kraemder » Sun Oct 11, 2015 5:13 am

I got some replies to my post and never saw them. I appreciate the replies. I wish I had checked in sooner ;(. Unfortunately I missed the signup deadline for the December JLPT. I totally thought the deadline was the first week sometime in October and when I got back from Japan and logged into my computer to sign up, I was two days too late. I was putting off signing up due to not knowing my plans etc. I would have just signed up had I known and figured something out. So the plan is still N2 but now it's going to be next year. I am planning to move to Japan to teach English now. I have given my last day at my job and purchased plane tickets.. no I don't have a job. I have enough money to live for a while and just slack off so I'm going to go there for about 6 months (I hope.. I think that's ok as an American) and see about getting a job lined up for after that. That's the vague plan. I'm now in the process of selling / giving away all of my belongings *sniff*. It's a sad thing to do. I don't think I'll regret it in the least after I leave but right now it's sad.

I'm going to be staying at a share house in western Tokyo where I stayed for the three weeks vacation I took in September. I made friends there and I'm sure I'll make more when I go back. It's a super friendly atmosphere there I am lucky I found it. I was thinking of going to the same school - Genki Jacs - but I found a much cheaper school instead. TCJ (tcj-jp.com). It's about one third the price per what I'm seeing online The classes look about 3x as big so that's probably why. Genki jacs classes advertise being about 4 to 5 people but mine was like 8. The first week we were 6 and the last two weeks we were 8. I don't think the participation difference will be too big and I am not one to talk tons in a classroom anyway.

So I would like to take the JLPT next year in the summer. I was looking at the dates and if I'm there 6 months then I'll run out of time to take the JLPT test so maybe I'll finagle that a bit. I don't know. I guess worst case I take the test a year from December. I would like to try for the N1 at that point haha but the N2 certificate is actually meaningful and if I failed the N1 then it would be a big let down. I guess it might seem a little arrogant thinking I could just pass the N2 now but I think I can. Now getting a top score is another thing. So I'm going to work hard at the grammar and try to prepare to do my best.

I have the Matome series and I have started the week one of the N2 文法. Unfortunately I'm not keeping up to the one lesson per day schedule in the book - I've got too much going on and doing vocabulary flashcard reviews is really important to me. I'm doing it though. Clearly when I quit my job and head to Japan I'm going to have nothing to do but study for a while and I'm sure to make good progress then.

One thing I'm not looking forward to in Japan - the weather. I just looked and it's freezing in the winter. 41 degrees average high in January. I've been living in Tucson, Arizona for 9 years now and it's going to be a shock going back to a cold climate.
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kraemder
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Re: Kraemder's attempt at JLPT N2 (Japanese)

Postby kraemder » Sun Oct 11, 2015 5:17 am

Oh, regarding the 浴衣(ゆかた).. there was a guy at my school who wore one to school all the time (I think?). Only guy I saw wearing a kimono in Tokyo was him in his blue bathrobe lol. He was a nice guy though. I guess he wanted to get the full Japanese experience. I did see some kimono stores - one in 銀座 (ぎんざ)and the display in the window advertised kimonos for the western man. I passed some other westerners looking at it and we were all impressed but thought it was a little far fetched but hey, maybe they sell. They did look nice, but expensive.
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kraemder
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Re: Kraemder's attempt at JLPT N2 (Japanese)

Postby kraemder » Sat Jan 30, 2016 9:30 am

This is a bit of a cross post from my journal in another forum. I got to Japan in mid December and had the first month or so off without any school or plans and was thinking I would just study lots of Japanese and get awesome at Japanese (as much as possible). It didn't work out as well as I would have liked. I suppose there were a couple of reasons. While I like the room that I'm staying in, it's not as nice as my old apartment in Tucson. I had a lot of room there, several big monitors, a huge TV that kicked butt. Basically, it was fantastic for
studying using a computer. And then a big dining room table to study on when I wanted to get serious with a textbook
(not too often but the option was there). Here in the share house, which is like a dormitory really, I have a desk but it's
kind of small. I left my monitors behind and the big screen TV. Using a laptop you can kind of do everything you can on
a proper desktop setup but it's just not as comfortable. I ended up using my phone and iPad instead and I guess they're
just quite as effective study tools for reading Japanese. (I didn't get a lot of reading done.)

I did get a chance to socialize a lot which I didn't do so much in the States. I was pretty much a loner after work (gives
more time for studying =p). Socializing is great but it's awful for studying. I can do some speaking practice. Speaking
practice is wonderful for well speaking but you really don't expand your vocabulary or grammar doing it. Reading is just
too big I think. Plus I'm not in a total immersion environment. Lots of people here want to learn English and I sound
cooler if I mix my Japanese with English so that's what I generally do. It's hard as hell to just speak Japanese anyway.
We have other westerners in the share house also and none of them speak Japanese well enough to really have a
proper conversation.

I guess more than anything i got a lot of sleep. Then school started finally the 2nd week of January. I had signed up for
a class at Tokyo Central Language School. The person who was my contact for registering told me that English wasn't
spoken by all the students the way I described Genki JACS (she hadn't heard of the school) so people had to use
Japanese instead and she thought that was a good thing. I agreed so I enrolled. It helped that it was about 1/3 the
price of Genki JACS too. Well that wasn't the case. It might be the case for the lower Japanese levels but not the upper
levels, and definitely not the class I ended up in. The students in my class didn't come from a variety of countries speaking different languages - they were all Chinese and it's very understandable that they spoke Chinese to each other instead of Japanese.

They have a rigerous placement test at this school. It took all afternoon from 1 PM until 5:30 PM. They start it off with writing the hiragana and katakana alphabets and then moving onto grammar / vocabulary / kanji / reading / listening questions. It ends with an interview. I would say it's more thorough than the JLPT which has no interview and requires no ability to write kanji. But also a waste of time. I know
my level pretty well and could have just looked at material for each class and picked my class. But that's not how things get done so I suffered through the placement test.

There were people who obviously shouldn't even be taking the placement test - they couldn't understand the most
basic Japanese instructions and the teachers had to resort to speaking foreign languages to say anything to them. I
was impressed with the variety of languages being spoken by the teachers: I heard Chinese, French, English, and some
others. Since the placement test got progressively harder, the students had the option to just say this was their limit,
pass it in, and go do the interview and be done. It gets tempting to do even if you think maybe you can keep going a bit
more.

The students that clearly spoke no Japanese lasted longer than I expected but they were obviously the first to be done
and just leave. I kept going and when I was hopeful that it was done they said that there would be a break and then
people had the option to continue and do an even more difficult test. From the grammar I had just looked at I would
guesstimate it to be about N5/4/ and maybe some N3 grammar. But I was already tired. I wanted to do an N2 class
because even though I've studied some N2 and N1 grammar I know I have some gaps with possibly even some N3 stuff.
Did what I had already done qualify me to take an N2 level class? I was thinking maybe not. I had forgotten how to
write a couple hiragana and katakana O.o. Obviously reading them would be ok but I hadn't written Japanese in ages. I
had crammed some kanji the past couple weeks but no kana at all. And although I could read all of the kanji they tested
me on, they tested on writing kanji too and I only remembered some of them. This isn't RTK style testing, they give you
Japanese and you have to SPELL, not just remember how to draw a single character.

So I stayed for the harder test. A girl behind me spoke English to me and told me I was they only person who stayed
that wasn't Chinese. The teacher passing it out teased us about being really confident in our Japanese language
abilities. The test was hard as expected but I figured I'd regret it if I didn't do my best. I could read almost all of the
kanji and give the furigana but was only able to write a couple of kanji when they tested the other way. My ability to
write hiragana was getting better as the test went on. The grammar seemed to be a mix of N2 and N1. I've never taken
an N1 test of any kind, just looked at the grammar a bit and made some flashcards for stuff that looked useful to mix in
with my N2 stuff. I don't really know how I did but I know I got some of it right. A lot less than on the previous test
though. The reading section was really challenging. I did most of it but 15 minutes before the time limit I just decided
the heck with it. I was exhausted and would likely have to guess for questions and it didn't make sense to guess for
questions when the idea is to get an accurate placement for my class. I just passed it in and headed for the interview.

The interview was pretty short. I just sat down and spoke Japanese with a friendly young female teacher. She quickly
said she was more than satisfied with my speaking ability and asked me a bit about the test I just took. I explained that I
had no problem reading the Japanese but it had been so long since I had written it that I struggled a bit with kana, and
definitely with kanji. She seemed concerned about that. I said that it was coming back quickly and that I definitely
didn't want to be in a class with easy grammar/vocab just to improve my ability to write by hand. She agreed. She said I
would take a class in the morning instead of the afternoon. At this school they have the more advanced classes in the
morning, and the beginner type classes in the afternoon. I think that was the whole purpose of the interview. And I
think it automatically placed me into an N2 class. If I had know that I would have quit much sooner!

I came to class the following week. No western faces in the class. The teacher introduced me and it seems that
everyone had been in this class together at least for the previous term (semester). I was the only new person. And they
all were Chinese. Just like per the placement test, the non kanji background people's Japanese hadn't reached a high
intermediate level. We did introductions and the whole class seemed astonished that I could give a lengthy introduction
in Japanese. They all gave really brief introductions. I still can't say if that's because it's all they could do or if it's just
all they wanted to do. The class officially used the textbook 中級から学ぶ and they were about halfway into it. We did a
listening exercise and I figured I got about 80% of what was said. Nobody else did though. I raised my hand for 50%
instead not wanting to stick out. We went through the material. I was definitely learning although the text itself seemed
a little easier than I would have liked.

I've been going to the class for almost three weeks now. I still can't really say for sure what everyone else's Japanese
level is. But I would say some are probably better than me and I'm better than others. I do think my speaking is more
advanced than others if only because I force myself to use as much grammar as I can when I talk and I'm not at all shy
about speaking Japanese. I think others are more shy. I know I am probably not saying stuff the way a native speaker
would but I figure they'll understand and they generally do. Most people in the class took the JLPT in December and
the teacher somehow got the test results for the whole class and announced it to the class a couple days ago. Maybe
the school is a testing center? I don't know. There was one student in the class who attempted the N1. He didn't pass
(no idea if he passed the N2 previously or is just skipping it). The rest took the N2 and most passed it. One got a pretty
high score too although most were just above passing and didn't have huge amounts of breathing room. This really
surprised me because in class they're teaching grammar not like it's review but like the class hasn't seen it. And in
addition to the 中級から学ぶ book we're using 耳から覚える文法N2 and starting with chapter 1. The latter book isn't an
official textbook - I just recognized the sentences because I have the book and went through chapters one and two on
my own a while ago. (about a year ago? more?). It also surprised me because the class doesn't know vocabulary that I
think is -really- basic. Like 散らかる. The teacher went through a big explanation of this word because they didn't know
it. I've known this one for years... I mean.. at some point you want to know how to say that your room is a mess.

I know being Chinese gives them a unique advantage over westerners due to the kanji but it's hard to say how this
translates to the JLPT. Some students did well with grammar, others did well with the listening. I don't think anyone
aced the reading section although the person with the highest score couldn't have done too badly at it. In class
students generally can write an essay pretty damn well and quickly while I'm struggling because I have to verify kanji by
typing it on my phone. I'm noticing the progress in my ability to write by hand but it would take a lot of work to catch up
to where these Chinese students already are right now. But while they can write and 'spell' kanji in words very well, they
have a lot of the same issues that westerners do when it comes to reading out loud: they know the meaning but don't
remember the Japanese pronunciation of the kanji. Especially if it's a kun reading as opposed to an on reading. They
do find words with on style pronunciations a bit easier it seems, but when reading they often say the Chinese
pronunciation instead of the Japanese.

So the class is pretty good for me in terms of the level. We're speeding through 耳から覚える at the rate of about once
chapter a week. We don't do it every day because they alternate between two teachers every day and only one teacher
is using the book. But she'll go through explaining a grammar in say 10 minutes and then it's on to the next. I don't
know how quickly other people's classes go through grammar but this is about 3x faster than I've done in a class
before. After three weeks we've done three chapters in the book and will be starting chapter 4 soon. If I didn't have a
background including some self study of N2 material I'd be against the wall and asking to go back to an easier class.
Probably to an easier school that just goes slower. But I do have the background so it's a good pace for me.

Regarding what I was told about students using Japanese with each other. It's absolutely no the case. As you would
guess from a class where everyone's native language is Chinese, they speak Chinese. They try to speak Japanese to
me a bit but it's not very effective. We can communicate but they're not fluent really and I struggle to understand them
even. Likewise, they have difficulty understanding me too. I'm just not used to a Chinese accent - or they are mixing
Chinese with their Japanese a bit perhaps. I can easily have a conversation with a Japanese person however or a
westerner speaking Japanese even if it's not very well. I can't help thinking it's that they're mixing Chinese into their
Japanese although I can't really verify that.
10 x


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