Passing First Grade shouldn’t be this hard!

I'm currently studying for the Japanese Langauge Proficiency Test, Level 1.. There are 4 levels, 1 being the most difficult. The test is only offered once a year (in December), and this year I'll be able to take the test in Seattle.

Here's a brief overview of the test:

First grade (1kyuu):
Total score: 400 points--passing score 280 (70%)
Vocabulary 10,000 words
Kanji: 2000
Generally requires about 900 hours of classroom study

To give you a sample, here's a list of some of the vocab I should know by December: (EUC encoding)

A friend of mine took the test last year and was able to pass it. I asked him how much he studied a day, and he told me he studied 3 hours a day (and he's starting from a much higher level than I'm at) I am trying to keep up with that pace, but there's only so much I can study before falling asleep. I don't have particularly high hopes about passing the test, but I'm hoping that if I continue to study daily, I'll at least have a shot.

This could mean that I won't be joining the rest of you on Nov. 9th. Have fun fragging each other without me!


Comments (5)
  1. Chad Thiele says:

    Hey David,

    I live in Japan and I can’t speak the language. I want to though, any advice on how to get spun-up quickly? I’m not looking to master the language in 10 mins or anything, but a good solid foundation will help get me started.

    I can speak a little bit of conversational Japanese. Things like konnichi-wa, or watashi-ha Chad desu.

    Hopefully, omedeto gozaimasu is coming soon for you. 😉


  2. Dave says:

    I don’t think it’s possible to learn any language quickly. I studied it for 2 years in college before I think I was able to communicate at any respectable level.

    However, you’ve got the advantage of being in Japan, so you can really immerse yourself in the language if you try.

    I would highly recommend taking some beginner classes if you have the time, and the spare cash. That will provide you with at least some basic grammar and vocabulary.

    Once you get to the level where you can communicate a bit, I’d look for a conversation partner (I will be meeting with mine shortly!) You can meet up, spend 30 minutes speaking English, and 30 minutes speaking Japanese. That way you both get something out of it.

    Good luck, and have some takoyaki for me!

  3. Chad Thiele says:

    Thanks for the advice. Although, I don’t really like takoyaki so much (it’s the fish flakes they usually top the takoyaki with that I don’t like)… but I’ll have some yakiniku for ya! 😉

    I’ve taken Japanese 111 here at a local American college (on an Air Force base). The class was way too easy, and a bit too formal. Every Japanese person I talk to with the stuff I learned in class couldn’t really understand what I was talking about. I asked some friends and they said the things I learned weren’t really conversational. I’ve since forgotten the hiragana I learned in the class… mostly. There are some I recognize here and there.

    I guess it comes down to effort. I’m studying to be a solutions architect on the .NET framework. That’s eating up a lot of my time. I’m a learner, so everything I learn gives me a ton of satisfaction… so I want to learn everything. I’ll need to budget my time in order to fit in all the learning I want to do.

    Thanks again.

  4. Dave Fries says:

    I’m a learner too, and I know what you mean about there being not enough time to learn all the stuff I want to learn.

    You’re also correct that most classes are only going to teach you polite japanese. You’ll probably have to learn "normal" Japanese from any Japanese friends you have. Anyway, it takes a lot of time, and dedication, but in the end I’m sure you’ll be glad you put in the effort.

    Good luck!

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