• 04 . 12 . 05
  • Last December I just managed to pass level 3 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, which is held once a year to measure someone’s Japanese ability. This year, I tried Level 2 and just got back from a really difficult exam. It’s multiple choice, but the options are always very similar and designed to trick […]

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Failure Is Not An Option

Last December I just managed to pass level 3 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, which is held once a year to measure someone’s Japanese ability. This year, I tried Level 2 and just got back from a really difficult exam. It’s multiple choice, but the options are always very similar and designed to trick you, especially in the listening part, where it’s impossible to just listen for a word you know. In short, it’s a proper test, which I guess you can’t complain about.

It had the same yellow and red cards as last year to warn examinees if they broke the rules, but unlike last year, this time someone was actually shown one. Before each section of the test there is a deliberate period of silence, for who knows what reason. One Chinese student was idly flicking through the question booklet during the interminable 20 minute silence before the listening part, when the invigilator marched up to him and brandished a yellow card with a loud “Hai!”. The rest of us couldn’t help giggling even when he turned his attention on the rest of us.

I also bumped into a guy I was at university with in Manchester, which was unexpected to say the least. It took us a while to figure out where we knew each other from, but it clicked in the end as we realised we were on the same course and had the same project tutor. He’s living in Shiga Prefecture as a JET teacher and was taking his test in Gifu because at the late application stage that was the only test site with any places left. Apparently Gifu is not such a popular area for studying Japanese. Having said that, another friend who lives in Gifu took the test in Nagoya because he didn’t read the available options properly, so maybe it’s just that us Gifu-ites are less observant…

Anyway, the test was ok considering the amount of time I’ve been studying. I don’t expect to pass at all and didn’t from the start, but I’m glad I made the attempt and, like last year, just having the threat of a test looming was enough to motivate me to continue studying and improving. Many Japanese people think I’m mad to have even tried, knowing that I would probably fail. That they wouldn’t attempt it (or at least publicise the fact that they were doing so) until they were confident of success highlights the Japanese mentality in such areas. And in any case, it’s all over now, so I don’t have to worry. Thankfully, tonight there’s a Bounenkai, or year-end party, for the Nova teachers in Gifu. I think I deserve a beer or two.