Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Not much going on here but the rain...at least it seems like summer has ended. I caught the first glimpse of higanbana in the verge near our house - this is the "equinox lily" whose appearance I've been looking forward to for about 3 months :-)

I did another practice JLPT test on Sunday and scraped over the magic 60% "pass" threshold this time - 241 points out of 400 to be precise, up 3% from the previous one a couple of weeks earlier. That was despite the handicap of doing the papers back-to-back in a noisy cafe with a caffeine overdose and plenty of distractions - loud Americans are harder to tune out than polite Japanese! I'm on the home stretch as far as learning the kanji and vocab goes, but still pretty awful at the listening comprehension (in fact my score even went down on this compared to how I'd done in the previous test). People who live in Japan and actually use Japanese to communicate seem to generally find this the easy part of the test, but it's only 25% of the overall score so not too crucial. There are still nearly 3 months left, so assuming I don't get lazy (and even if these tests are a bit on the easy side compared to the real thing) things seem to be on course. Perhaps it would be tempting fate to say that 70% is coming within range...


EliRabett said...

I have a cousin who was trained to read Japanese during WWII. He said that the written and spoken language were so different that the US Army taught half the selectees the written language and half the spoken one.

So you see, you are really being tested on two languages.

James Annan said...

Yes, one has to effectively learn everything twice, as there is so little connection between the written and spoken versions even when the words are identical! I get far more out of a page of text than I would if someone read it to me: there are many foreign residents in the opposite situation. The exam is 75% reading, 25% listening, which suits me well enough, but it must be recognised that Japanese (especially the written form) is a stunningly obtuse language which greatly obstructs communication, even amongst the Japanese. It's shocking how frequently I've found Japanese natives unable to read what appears to be simple instructions etc. That deserves a longer rant some time, but I don't want to demotivate myself to learn it right now!