November was a crazy month.  Not only did I participate in NaNoWriMo but I also had to study for the JLPT test.   For those who don’t know, the JLPT stands for Japanese Language Proficiency Test.  Like you might guess, this test determines how good your Japanese is by covering vocab, grammar and listening.  Everything is in multiple choice, no writing is involved.  There are 5 levels of the JLPT, N1 being the hardest and N5 being the easiest.  N2 is the level most jobs require foreigners to pass if they want to work somewhere that doesn’t involve English.  N1 is legendary for being difficult, even Japanese natives don’t recognize the kanji and vocab used in the test.  I decided to take N4.  The test was last Sunday and I’m glad it’s done!

The test was at a real nice university by my place.  The staff was really strict on the rules during the test.  The rules are pretty simple and universal for when you take tests: don’t talk, don’t cheat, don’t open the book until the test begins, etc.  If you managed to screw up, you can either get a yellow card or a red card.  It’s just like soccer; yellow cards are a warning to you and a red card automatically disqualifies you from taking the test.  If you get two yellow cards, it’s automatically a red card for you.  Apparently there were a few yellow cards in my room but I couldn’t see since I was in the very front.

I definitely didn’t study as hard as I probably should’ve due to NaNoWriMo, but I figured that I was going to sacrifice one of them.  Even though I paid to take the exam, I wanted to advance on my writing so that took a hit and it showed the day I took the test.  The questions weren’t too bad but I knew if I studied more, I could’ve easily passed it.  Now I would say it’s 50/50.  If anything, it got me to study on a daily basis, something that has been eluding me since I came here.  I definitely did better than most of my friends that took it, they all sounded like they bombed it.  I decided not to cram for the test unlike everyone because I personally think cramming is useless.  I was hearing how some people were cramming 8 hours a day the week before the test; learning thousands of words and hundreds of kanji.  I can’t do that.  You’re bound to forget a lot of things and once the test is over, the majority of the things you “learned” will be forgotten.  We get the results sometime in February, meaning that I can’t stop studying since the next time I can take the test in July!  I want to study more because I want to be able to talk to my coworkers and make it easier to lesson plan. More importantly, I want to be able to talk to my kids.  Almost every day some kid will run up to me and ask me about something that I can barely understand.  It makes me feel bad because when I try to ask them to repeat it; they usually don’t and give up.  If I don’t pass this time, I definitely will next time!


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