JLPT for Fun

December 2nd was the JLPT. I’ve taken it before, back when there were only four levels, and failed it pretty impressively. I remember going to Chuck E.  Cheese (my “clique” in high school was really into the dance pad*) and knitting while my friends studied. It wasn’t until talking to one of the other “testees” that I realized this was over five years ago.

Okay, seven.

It’s kind of cool to know that I have lived long enough to start something half-heartedly, let it flag nearly out of existence, and then revive it with pure and mindless determination. It’d be cooler if I had felt confident enough to take something higher than the N4, but as my results haven’t come back in yet I can’t even say for sure that the N4 was the right level. The testing was fun, though. Goodness, I have missed tests. There were quite a few places where I had no idea what the question was, let alone the answer, but these were balanced out by times where the answer was so blindingly obvious I had to blink a few times to make sure I was reading it right. And of course the environment was a lot of fun too. Dozens and dozens of people my age, mixed with nine-year olds and a few gray beards. There was one study group of children, and they gathered in the hall with their sensei. The first of them to arrive were these completely Anglican blond girls, with their parents and younger sister and a whole host of lunch boxes and electronic gaming devices. Then the Japanese moms started coming with their kids. Seeing the girls I had felt an almost jealous pang of regret, because by my competitive way of thinking they were ahead of me, but for some reason when I found out that the rest of their class was composed of kids with Japanese speaking parents I felt much better*. I’m not sure exactly why this comforted me, maybe it made me realize that we all have different resources to tap into. I know that mine haven’t even begun to dry up yet, so why should I worry about another’s?

The results for the JLPT don’t come out until the end of February, but I’ll be starting back up with my studies before then. I really would like to beat DQ9 before March so that  I can start on 二ノ国. And Anki, and, and, and . . . .

But that’s all later. After Christmas. For now, I’m taking a short break. No anime, no DS – only the books and music that  I would probably be interested in anyway. I’m looking forward to starting January with renewed vigor. Watch out grammar, here I come!

________________ Socks off _____________________

*My clique being composed of my mom, my sister, my best-friend-since-forever, and so on. At one point in my life our familys went to Chuck E. Cheese every week. We were on a first name basis with the manager, and when I heard them playing  “kiss me” on the radio a few months ago I nearly caused a traffic incident. The orange arrow, the green arrow!

** When the Japanese moms started coming in you could almost feel the rest of the room straining to catch their words. The very air seemed to scream “Real Life Example!”

The Joy of Winning

You may remember from a previous post that I’m not particularly found of flashcards.

I might have come across as bitter.

Well, yesterday I passed the first of ten tests in Nazotte No Oboeru (なぞってのおぼえる大人の漢字練習), and, happy as I am to finally win something, I’m getting even giddier thinking about the new kanji I’ll now be able to add to my Anki deck. The cockles of my heart are enjoying a toasty sensation, I believe is the phrase.

I was not thinking this kindly towards なぞってのおぼえる a few weeks ago. I got it around the beginning of September, but was busy “vacationing” with Theo and didn’t really look at it. After she left I sat down and vowed to pass a test a week.

Three weeks passed.

Part of the problem was that I just didn’t play it, so of course I wasn’t able to learn the kanji properly. You know, repetition, repetition, repa- *yawn*. I was avoiding it because I’m a bad sport  I seemed completely unable to tell when 石 should be read as “ごく,” as in 加賀百万石, when it should be read as “せき” (偉人の石像), and of course, when it was finally used as “いし” (石焼き芋). Even if I could remember that 石 had all three of those readings, figuring out which one the program was asking for was taxing my brain to an embarrassing extent. For each question that tested my ability to write a kanji based on a given reading, I was reduced to guessing which of the 80 or so characters I was studying could be read the way they wanted.

Obviously this was the wrong way to go about things. The game (I use the word without sarcasm now) was meant for Japanese adults who want to brush up on their kanji readings. When this target audience goes to read “春のなな草,” they will know what the sentence means (the game provides furigana over all the kanji, so they really have no excuse). Knowing what it means, do you think they will be trying to match kanji readings to find out what “なな” is? Of course not, they’re going to think “what is the kanji for seven?” and then plug it right in. My vocabulary is worse than my kanji reading*, and maybe that’s why it took me a while to realize that I was going about the whole thing wrong. But I did, finally, about two weeks ago, and now I’m putting sentences from the game into Anki with their translation. Doing this, it makes sense that “石” is read differently when in the compound 加賀百万石.  Normally it’s the kanji for stone, but here it’s being used as an ancient unit of weight, a “こく.”* Suddenly, I’m not failing when this question comes up.

So yes, I’m happy now that I’ve passed level one with a 92%, missing 4/50 kanji. I’ve got about seven more weeks to get through the rest of the levels if I want to beat the game before the JLPT in December. Buy hey, I figure with Anki I’ll not only be able to read the kanji by that time, but use them too.

_____________________________ Socks’s Off _________________________________

* I may know more words than kanji, but the way I look at it, I have way more words left to learn than I have kanji to study.

* How funny is it that stone has been used to measure weight in both the west and the east? Seriously though, look this compound up and then google the bits that still make no sense and you’ll see why I’m now motivated to study. The phrases they use in なぞってのおぼえる range from mundane, to colloquial, to archaic. Translating them often feels like opening the door on an advent calendar. 49 more days to Christmas . . . .