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The Art of Studying
The Japanese Language Proficiency Test JLPT
The Japanese Language Proficiency Test JLPT
The Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), What is it? Preparation tips.

The Japanese Language Proficiency Test, JLPT for short or also known as the Nihongo Nouryoku Shiken is the Government standard test to gauge foreigner worthiness in the Japanese language and whether or not they may be accepted as part of everyday society since Japan’s native language is Japanese. Some people like to jokingly refer to the JLPT as a means for the Japanese to gauge how bad foreigners are at the language. This test is only applicable to foreigners and not native speakers as there are other types of standardized tests used instead.

The JLPT has 5 levels denoted by N with a number. The easiest is the JLPT N5 exam, which tests to see if you can understand some very basic Japanese. This degree of Japanese isn’t enough to work in Japan because it is so basic that you simply cannot carry reasonable conversations with anyone. The hardest exam is N1, which is reserved for linguists ready to teach Japanese at a college level and medical professionals. Native Japanese speakers are approximately at an N2 level, mostly. This means that if you can pass the N1 exam, you will probably speak and comprehend Japanese better than most Japanese people – pronunciation aside.

The origins of the JLPT Exam When did the JLPT exam came to be and why?
The first JLPT exams were held in 1984 as a solution to standardize Japanese testing for both reading and listening. This was due to the influx of foreigners looking to work in Japan from around the world but with no means to gauge the approximation of their language aptitude it was a difficult hiring process and so the JLPT came to be. The process was straight-forward and had 4 levels, 1 being the hardest and 4 being the easiest. In 2010, the JLPT moved away from simply having 4 exams (N1 – N4) and added a new level which bridged the levels between N1/N2 and N4/N5.

Immigration benefits to completing the JLPT exam:
Every level gives preferential treatment and the higher the level (N1 is highest) the greater preference is given. However, in order to become a citizen of Japan, the immigrant must pass either the JLPT N2 or N1 exam. By law, no foreign professionals in the medical field will be permitted to practice medicine without the N1 certification except denoted by rare exception.

JLPT Requirements Per Level:
* Each JLPT exam has two parts: Reading and Listening.

JLPT N5 – This exam is the easiest and rarely can anyone obtain a job with this, but it may still have its purpose. You will require to know some basic Japanese expressions, all of Hiragana, Katakana and some very basic Kanji. The listening portion requires the student to understand regular day-to-day topics and classroom situations.

JLPT N4 – This level is harder and will require you to know a significantly higher amount of vocabulary and understanding of daily Japanese. There are more Kanji to be learned and students in this level are expected to understand general daily conversational Japanese given that it is spoken slowly enough.

JLPT N3 – This is the level that matters to most businesses in Japan and the level of understanding but not high enough to be granted the eventual but optional citizenship. It is expected that in order to pass this exam, the student must be able to understand written materials concerning everyday topics. Newspapers are difficult to read because of the degree of kanji in them but at this level, students are expected to be able to at least be able to read headlines. Additionally, students are required to understand a fairly difficult concept regarding alternate phrasing and various advanced grammar structures.

Students are expected to also be able to understand daily Japanese conversations at a nearly normal speed.

JLPT N2 – This level is typically considered as “native level” Japanese by many and in order to pass this exam, a rigorous checklist is required. This is no easy task and will require a formidable amount of studying and information gathering. The written portion is profoundly difficult and so is the listening portion. Thankfully we as well as the official JLPT website can help you study for this. Passing this level means that you may qualify to obtain citizenship in Japan. This is the level most people wanting to move to and work in Japan will aim for.

JLPT N1 – This exam is considered the holy grail of Japanese fluency particularly for foreigners who seek to master the Japanese language to its fullest. It is required by law that anyone who wishes to practice Medicine such as Doctors and Nurses to pass the JLPT N1 exam. This degree is considered college level Japanese and passing this exam would mean you would be one in few who has. only about 21-29% of N1 exam applicants will pass. It is difficult even for native speakers.

Simply put, you will need to know complex phrasing, amazing comprehensive skills and to be able to listen to what amounts to a lecturer teaching you about a new advance subject. The high-level vocabulary here makes sense on why it is a requirement for Medical practitioners.

How do you know what to study?
The biggest question that you may have for this exam is: “How do I know what to learn for the JLPT exam and where do I take this?” The JLPT exam occurs twice a year. Once in July and another in December. Previously, prior to 2009, it only occurred once a year. These exams are taken at local testing facilities such as a college or university. Not all colleges support this and it may require the student to travel to a different city, province or state to complete. As such, each testing facility will have their own requirement to pass their test as not all tests are made equal. However, they generally follow the same guideline as provided by the Japan Foundation and Japan Educational Exchanges and Services.

Each level will require specific training to pass and obtain certification however at Jappleng we hope we can help you do so with our vast, detailed lessons intended to teach people fluency in Japanese. Our lessons are written in such a way that anyone can understand, and the details of the language can be so well understood that a beginner will be able to mix sentences in an N3 fashion early-on. Likewise, we provide a dictionary which can sort words based on JLPT level, our flashcards system may be used with this as well to learn at a faster pace. Additionally, while we do try to provide everything you will ever need to master the Japanese language, you are more than welcome to explore different websites and avenues to study.

As a Japanese-centric community Jappleng can be, we work together to make passing even the hardest level of the JLPT exam possible. If you eager to become fluent in Japanese you may enroll to our JPLearn! course which is free to use and upon completing a lesson, assignments are provided.
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