Last year I took the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) N4, as a motivational challenge. I did not do very well on it, not so much for lack of trying as it was for lack of time in which to study and the joys of having a cold when taking the test. Oddly enough Sudafed and caffeine do not help my concentration any (wait, you mean being shaky and hyper is distracting?), but I didn’t have a choice if I wanted my ears mucus free so I could hear during the listening portion of the test.
The test is held each year in December. When I signed up for it in August, I thought I’d have plenty of time to study, since I was still only working part time and could study at my weekend job. Then later that month I started interviewing for a new job in Boston, my grandfather passed away (which delayed the third round of interviews to Friday the 13th), I got the job and started it in October, my grandmother passed away the week I started, and I had a wedding to go to the weekend after the funeral. I did what I could to keep up with studying, but man. Life. Thankfully I like my new job, I have great coworkers, and I’m really enjoying have weekends again so I can spend more time with my friends who also work full time.
I’ve started studying with a group of friends who are also considering taking the JLPT this year. Since I feel like I should set myself challenges, I’m studying for the N3. I’m striving to pass, but if I’m going to fail, I should fail upwards.
One of my reasons for taking the JLPT is that I would like something tangible to point to so that, if it’s relevant, I can put Japanese on my list of skills on resumes. I never took Japanese in college, and I’ve never taken formal classes. I probably wouldn’t have added it if I’d passed the N4 (it tests very basic Japanese), but if I pass the N3 I’ll be able to show a reasonable level of understanding. I’m still too shy to speak in Japanese very much, and I’m also pretty lazy about posting writing in Japanese, so my skills are still reading and listening centric. Mostly reading. I’m playing Final Fantasy X, X-2, and XIII in Japanese, and if the dialogue did not include Japanese subtitles I would probably have far lower comprehension.