Hello everyone !
I just passed N3 and uh… It was okay. Well, I am not too surprised as I know I didn’t work listening AT ALL (just my lesson with my tutors) and more generally, I didn’t work specifically toward the JLPT exam (except for grammar).
But I would like to try N2 this July and if I want to pass this one I will need specific preparation for the test. Especially regarding listening and reading. So, here come my questions :
-Any recommendation for N2 listening training ? I don’t want to spend 6 months listening to N2 exams I would like something more entertaining such as Youtube, podcast, anything that’s quite funny and good for a N2 level. I have my voice acted visual novels, but they obviously won’t be enough. I mean, these are just small lines, not a full text or conversation. They won’t train me for N2 at all ^^
-And reading recommendation for N2 level as well ? I obviously plan to buy the Shinkanzen Master series because it was just so good for N3 but I would also like something funny, as a hobby. I don’t really like reading the news but other than that, any recommendation is welcome. Same as listening, I play my video games in Japanese, but Pokemon and my visual novels are too easy compared to the JLPT regarding the grammar and text length. I mean, it’s easy to spend time on 2 lines and understand them. However, a full text on a specific subject is something else.
Get used to listen to japanese, watch youtube videos of funny interviews like ‘Ask Japanese’, watch N2 preparation videos in japanese.
I personally found the ‘Nihongo no mori’ ones very helpful. I only used the grammar ones though.
I’m also using the Japanese 101 app at the moment and it’s pretty fun, I paid for access to everything though, don’t really know how much you can access for free.
You can also listen to podcasts.
I use Podbean at the moment, it’s free and there’s a lot of of good stuff on there.
Watch movies, anime, drama, watch easy stuff, turn off the subtitles or at least try to not read them and see what you can pick up on.
I Like the LINE characters cartoon (it’s on YouTube)
But my ultimate advice would be to practice with old listening JLPT tests at least every other week to get used to the exam format and see how much good answers you can get each time.
Until you can get at least a passing score and then practice some more.
I use the N2 listening and N1 listening apps at the moment.
They’re really up to date, you can just practice with it or use it in test mode.
I think if you did drill the JLPT question format you could’ve gotten a significantly higher score.
Like with most tests knowing the JLPT test structure and developing a test strategy plays a big role. You need to know exactly how much time you can spend on each question type and be ready to skip some sections. To pass you don’t need to do all the questions, so pick your weakest and just skip them. You can use this time to focus on the questions you can do in general but struggle with when time is limited.
N2 listening is not too hard. I mean in the sense that they speak not as fast as in real life and all of the voice actors have a proper standard accent. And the grammar/vocab is far easier than N2 reading for example.
So what you need to practice is understanding spoken Japanese in a variety of contexts.
Personally, I watch a lot of Japanese youtube (e.g. vtubers) and anime. A year before my N2 exam I decided to switch off the subtitles on all of my Japanese content. It was a bit challenging in the beginning but it’s totally worth it. I would understand most of the converstations but some scenes I had to re-watch a few times and look up some words. When I’m not sure what word it is I look up what it could be and if I’m at a loss completely, I turn on the subs to double-check.
And after a year I am now pretty comfortable watching Japanese content without subs. Needless to say, N2 listening felt easy because I am already used to native content, a variety of accents etc. My weakness is news and formal speech in general. They use a lot of jukugo words and the information density in their speech is far higher than in casual speech.
So I’d recommend watching Japanese news a few times a week too.
As for specific recommendations, I think it’s really hard to suggest something as it should be interesting for you and make you want to continue watching even if you don’t understand 100%.
If you watch anime. Try watching the shows you like but without subtitles.
Try searching for your hobbies on youtube and watching the videos that come up.
I like watching vtubers (live streamers who use an anime avatar), and I think it’s a great way to practice casual speech comprehension. Here’s a pretty interesting new vtuber you can check out: 【初配信】起床【沙花叉クロヱ】 - YouTube
my 5 cents:
I would just watch tons of japanese drama and tv shows as well as youtube and some news programms here and there.
It is fascinating how much stuff you can just learn without really trying.
I personally really like cop and medical dramas so I can recognize some words that I (hopefully) would never need in real life, but on the other hand some basic stuff you would learn from textbooks I don’t know. So I guess the balance makes it.
also they speak a lot faster than for example in audiobooks or similar stuff so that helps with the jlpt, because at least to me they don’t speak at a normal conversation speed in the listening section of the jlpt, they are actually quite slow in comparison…
but as mentioned by people above, it also helps to get a feel for the question types they will ask, so you know what to expect and how it would be best for you to go about answering.
If you enjoy stories, how about audio dramas? You’ll get full conversations, internal monologues and exposition narration, with no visuals to guide you. You might browse the Listening Practice thread for some suggestions. There are all sorts of stories really, so it’s just a matter of deciding what genres you’re interested in, then go browse places that sell them, like Amazon.jp (among others).
Some genres are more difficult than others, which might be helpful to think about. Such as historical dramas, that might use older grammar points and vocabulary, or sci fi, with unique terminology or technical terms in general. Crime stories, on the other hand, has its own terminology. I’m sure you can find something that’ll challenge you, while also being fun. ^>^
How about anime, which is pretty close to VNs in style? There are anime that are based on VN series, like the Fate series. I’m preparing for the N1 right now, and jokes aside, practically all of my listening ability comes from watching anime and VTuber streams, and I think it’s fair to say that some of that is harder than even N1 content in terms of clarity and speaking speed. Based on the sample questions I’ve tried so far, what makes N1 listening content challenging is the vocabulary used and the quantity of information, not so much audio quality or the way people speak. Perhaps you’ll find it’s the same for the N2. Just as a side note, almost all of my N2 grammar knowledge also comes from watching anime and checking the dictionary.
I don’t know about the N2, but N1 texts definitely feel a bit like news articles, just a bit easier. That means that a bit of news reading will probably be very helpful for developing higher-level reading ability. However, I can understand not liking to read the news (I don’t read news articles that often anyway), and if you’re getting the SKM series, you’ll probably get some formal reading practice done too.
Maybe you can consider searching for content related to your interests, if you have anything in mind? I find that business Japanese sites can be a pretty good way to gently get acquainted with formal Japanese, like, say, if you read a page about using させていただく correctly. (You should be able to find one if you search させていただく 間違い.) However, if reading about Japanese usage in the business world in Japanese isn’t your thing… I guess you could also just look at sites written by Japanese teachers while learning N2 structures? You can try these three: edewakaru.com , nihongonosensei.net and jn1et.com. The first one is pretty nice as a study site because it includes illustrations for words and grammar points. If you’re willing to try checking monolingual dictionaries while watching anime or reading VNs, you’ll probably improve your reading skills too, because dictionary writing is pretty formal.
I can’t really think of anything ‘fun’ that would be useful for higher-level Japanese, and without knowing what interests you, I don’t have any other suggestions at the moment, so I’ll stop here for now.
Thank you everyone for your replies !
I think as suggested, I will try Youtubers and audio dramas. For test type listening, it’s something I do not wish to start now otherwise I will give up before applying for N2 haha. But I will definitely do that 2 months before the exam.
I will investigate each recommendation a bit further this weekend, when I have some more free time
And thanks again for giving recommendations !