Life is pretty exciting at the moment, except for one niggling problem that has been weighing on my mind: what will happen to my Japanese? I don't want the end of university to mean the end of my Japanese language study, but any dreams of moving to Japan and speaking Japanese have been put on hold. For the next few years, AP style English and shorthand will be my lingua francas.
So I've been trying to come up with ways of maintaining some sort of formal Japanese study. One option is to study for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, the Japanese Ministry of Education's official certification of 'proficiency' for foreigners. The test is held two times a year, and there are 5 levels, with N1 being the most advanced.
At Kansai University, the Japanese language courses for exchange students were designed with JLPT in mind. Each course corresponded to a JLPT level - my class was 'advanced', which meant by the end of it I was expected to be able to successfully sit at least N2.
Except I've forgotten everything. Kanji, idioms, grammar, the lot. The classes consisted of weekly vocab tests and reading exercises that really just tested how much Japanese you could memorize and regurgitate in a short time. I would spend the weekends gallivanting around Osaka, and the Sunday nights before each test cramming frantically. It served me well then, but seems pointless now.
|Sailor Moon understands how I feel.|
That's not to say I don't respect people who have passed the tests. The people I know who have taken N2 and N1 are all genuinely hard working, motivated, and exceptionally skilled in Japanese. And sure, the test has its benefits. If you want to work for a traditional Japanese company it's probably a good thing to have on your CV. It forces you to learn kanji, which I usually avoid as much as possible (naughty). For me, it would also be something to chip away at with a deadline in mind - if I studied a little bit each day, hopefully I could retain the Japanese I already know, and improve on the things that I don't.
Then again, is it worth all that time, money and effort, especially when it's a qualification I don't even need? Would I be better just continuing my current streak of watching Japanese TV shows on YouTube and reading my Sailor Moon manga?! The first JLPT test is held in July... I have five months to decide.
Who has taken the JLPT, and what was your experience?