JLPT 2023 thread (Dec results out now !)

Maybe go through a beginner text book like Genki, read some graded readers and listen to a beginner podcast. Also do some N5 mock tests.

Don’t worry about kanji that much I think for the N5 you only need to know around 100 or so kanji. Until December you have plenty of time learning them.

Good luck you can do it!

3 Likes

From what I remember of taking the N5, I certainly did not know anywhere near all of the supposed N5 level kanji, but more importantly, those kanji did not seem to play a substantial role in the exam, rather other factors such as listening comprehension, vocabulary in hiragana and katakana, and grammar were more important IIRC. Of course that could change from one exam session to another…

6 Likes

Thanks, once I’m done with the audio courses I’ll start a textbook like genki. I was lurking on the forums and noticed a trend that most people are having a hard time understanding Japanese, therefore I want to start exposing myself to as much audio as possible early one. Hopefully this gives me a good headstart in the listening department. Oh, and during my daily commute I listen to this podcast called- learn Japanese podcast. It’s maybe not the best, but I like the style and the host.

Thank you again, N5 seems to be a fairly simple test, but given I can’t afford more than 2 hours a day to study it’s still relatively challenging.

3 Likes

I study outside of this site by using the Murugoto books in class. Trying to prep for N5 but may skip to N4 depending on if I do the test this year or next. Someone posted a great recommendation on podcasts so currently listening to Japanese podcast for beginners during my lunch break.

I think after level 8 you’re only missing 4 of the kanji on the old list (which isn’t even all that relevant for the new test), but you know over three times as many kanji as are on that list total. On top of that, out of all the subjects, kanji is the least relevant for the JLPT in general.
Level 8 is more than enough to pass, if one wants to soothe their conscience they’re better off learning those 4 kanji outside of WaniKani. Better spend that time on other things :b

10 Likes

(me to me) your wish is my command

14 Likes

Just got my confirmation for the N3 in Dusseldorf :grinning: I’m gonna be there wondering which people around me are from WK :sweat_smile:

9 Likes

I also received today a confirmation for N3 in Düsseldorf!

7 Likes

I just read that they will add an CEFR index to the jlpt score starting 2025. That would definately make it easier to explain the level to people not familiar with the jlpt.

11 Likes

EDIT: Link here for anyone interested:

Hopefully it will settle the issue of the different ratings which different sources say correspond to the different JLPT levels.
I wonder if the exams might change subtly to more closely align to the CEFR level descriptors.

3 Likes

While this does seem great, it’s a bit odd that they can do this without a speaking component. Also that’s two years away, good god. Could they possibly move any slower?

Instead, I think they should be investing in better systems than a scantron sheet that takes seven weeks to score.

3 Likes

Totally agree with you.
My guess is this panel of experts (which they are convening over a period of years to look into the correspondence between 6 CEFR levels and JLPT scores) will end up giving lower CEFR levels than you might hope or initially expect.

When they get around to looking at the descriptors, probably after a few months of spending the recently increased exam fee on drinking tea and other noble pursuits, they’ll probably say, “Well we can’t say it’s that level because there’s no evidence of being able to produce X, Y and Z”, so let’s look at the next level down, etc.
Even though in terms of receptive skills, which the exams are testing, the level might be higher.
So as far as I can see, this could end up devaluing the JLPT, though I could be wrong.

3 Likes

It says that they won’t be changing the JLPT. It’s not an official “You are B2” (or whatever) anyways, it’s just for reference purposes for people that have no idea about the JLPT.

Since it’s not an official CEFR rating it shouldn’t matter to begin with, but that aside, there are a bunch of tests with official CEFR ratings for other languages that don’t involve a writing/speaking section. The JLPT isn’t as unique in that regard as people make it out to be.

8 Likes

I think it’s also worth remembering that there are CEFR descriptors for each language skill. The JLPT could easily just rate people’s CEFR levels for the skills that are tested and leave it at that. The ratings are just meant to be indicative anyhow.

Nah, it won’t, because there’s a difference in expectations inside and outside Japan, and I’d really welcome a realistic set of ratings anyhow. I recently read this Japanese article on the so-called ‘CEFR-J’, which is a Japanese adaptation of the CEFR focused on English learning. You’ll notice that one platform using this system mentioned by the article, RareJob, describes C1 as「ネイティブに近いレベルです」(‘a level close to native [level]’). That tells you that in Japan, C1 is generally considered good enough. Additionally, Japan’s big national language diplomas (notably the Eiken (English) and Futsuken (French)) both openly admit that their highest levels are C1/C2 at best i.e. they recognise that their test scales stop at C1, and they’re not capable of confirming that someone’s at the C2 level.

Likewise, most websites and university Japanese courses (including the ones at Japanese universities targeting foreigners) recognise that the N1 is around B2-C1. I think I’ve only seen one or two websites claiming C1-C2, which is frankly overly optimistic, unless they intend to use that as guidance for the sort of Japanese classes they’re offering (in which case C1-C2 is a good level to aim for when offering high-level classes). My Japanese teachers in France rate my Japanese level as C2, and I have an N1 cert, but I personally think I’m still at C1.

In short, the JLPT will continue to be valued (by organisations that know it) inside Japan, while the rest of the world will finally be given proper evidence it’s hardly the pinnacle of Japanese proficiency, and will either have to take it or leave it. I don’t think most organisations outside Japan expect a C2 in Japanese for hiring/award purposes anyhow.

Point is, I think it’s high time the JLPT be evaluated at its true worth, and perhaps having the organisation behind it do it will inspire them to consider revising the syllabus or going further to properly encompass C2. Alternatively, they could just stick with what they’re doing now, justifying it with the fact that the TOEIC doesn’t really go beyond the C1 level either.

9 Likes

Well I just think it will come as a bit of a blow to some people that they “only” got to A2 level when passing N3, or “only” got to B1 level when passing N2 (foreseeing the conclusions of the process).
And only on 2 out of the 4 skills as well.
So not actually A2 or B1 level respectively as a whole, but only to that level on reading/listening, and no indication of speaking/writing.
The current greyness of it probably gives a sense of being worth more than it actually is.

7 Likes

I mean, the grammar and vocabulary sections are supposed to suggest how much productive ability you have. Obviously that’s a massively flawed indicator, but just like the JLPT doesn’t test speaking or writing abilities – which are on the CEFR – directly, the CEFR doesn’t explicitly consider knowledge of grammar and vocabulary. Such knowledge is hard to map to the CEFR, but it’s not worthless either. You can’t disregard it entirely.

This I agree with though. I myself was quite miffed when I found out the N1 was only C1 at best. I do think that the final mapping will look more like this though:

JLPT CEFR
N5 A1.1-A1
N4 A1-A2
N3 A2-B1
N2 B1-B2
N1 B2-C1

The exact CEFR level printed on the certificate will probably depend on the score, but I just think that to be fair, N3 isn’t that low of a level, even if we’re working on a ‘can do’ basis like the CEFR does. I really think that at N3, you’re able to understand most of common sentence structure, and that’s more than what happens at the A2 level in most languages. Given that fact, I think people shouldn’t be too discouraged, though your overall point (that the JLPT levels may not be as high on the CEFR scale as people hope) still stands.

On the other hand, maybe this might spark demand for better Japanese teaching and more advanced resources? I personally think that there are two big reasons why the JLPT can get away with a barely-C1-equivalent N1 level:

  • Nobody knows what it really means and for a lot of foreign learners, the N1 is the Holy Grail of Japanese learning
  • Most Japanese learning resources stop at the N2 level, and I only know of two textbooks that are at the N1 level

In other words, there are lots of misconceptions out there, and it’s additionally ridiculously hard to acquire ready-made study materials for the N1 level, which is just a strong B2/low-to-mid C1. In contrast, for many European languages, the highest level for courses is C1-C2, and textbooks are widely available even at that level. Perhaps if more people realise how far behind Japanese materials are, there will be a push for more publishers and authors to produce C1-C2 material. I’m being really idealistic here, but it would be great if this turned out to be a moment of reckoning for the Japanese learning and teaching community.

One last thought: honestly, while I’m not sure how self-learners feel about this (I learnt Japanese almost entirely on my own, but as a native Chinese and English speaker, I know I’m not a typical self-learner), I think a big part of why people would feel ‘let down’ upon seeing CEFR ratings for the JLPT is that they took a lot of time to get to whatever level they’re at. However, from my observations in a university Japanese classroom (knowing that most commercial Japanese language centres move at a similar pace), the real reason for this situation – at least, for people who aren’t self-learners – is that modern Japanese teaching atomises knowledge – no attempt is made to link related ‘grammar points’ or words – and moves at a snail’s pace in classrooms full of unresponsive students who expect to make good progress with just one class a week. I’m not indicting Japanese learners for being ‘lazy’ here; I’m saying that the way Japanese is taught is wrong, as is the mindset students are encouraged to have.

Do I intend to try to create an alternative? Yes. How long will it take me? I’m not sure, but the main difficulty is that I’ve come to realise that a lot of things – especially really dry, technical information about key language features – are better explained in person than in text, and should be mixed with more exciting activities. Anyhow, what I’m saying is that Japanese needs to be taught in a more participative, intuitive manner that allows students to see Japanese as a coherent whole and allows teachers to move much faster by confirming that students have understood (through their participation), instead of belabouring simple concepts and wasting valuable time. With that, learning Japanese will become much less cumbersome, and people will also be less disappointed with their results after a given period, since they will no longer be artificially encouraged to overestimate the amount of effort needed.

9 Likes

I’m not sure as many people know about what CEFR levels are as you seem to think. Here in the UK I only encountered them fairly recently when doing French evening classes, for instance. It’s just “oh, that’s what they do in Europe”, the way JLPT is “that’s what they do in Japan” :slight_smile:

I don’t think the JLPT folks will do an “N0” unless they get pressure to do that from within Japan, eg companies saying they want a way to distinguish the Japanese skills of foreign applicants at that higher level. But I don’t get the impression that there’s really a problem for employers – either they don’t actually need that high a skill level, or else they can figure it out in the interview. And now universities have their own entrance test they don’t need to care about the JLPT.

7 Likes

Yeah, fair enough, but I think all major language tests have a CEFR mapping, so it helps with comparisons if anyone (especially e.g. a recruiter) is familiar with other language tests. More importantly, I think CEFR descriptors are easy to find and understand, so even if you know nothing about the CEFR, a quick search should clear things up very quickly. Final thing to think about: aren’t most of the languages people are learning nowadays still… European? I still think it’s something people are fairly likely to encounter, even if it’s hardly universal knowledge, unless they’ve only ever learnt one language, and it’s one that’s mostly detached from the CEFR (e.g. Japanese).

In essence though, I think the CEFR mapping will be very useful on the ‘evaluation’ side of things (e.g. companies, organisations, teachers). It may not produce the ‘new awareness’ effect I’m hoping for, however, because of what you’ve just mentioned. But hey, I’m living in France, and Japan and the Japanese language are massively popular here, so it might happen in some places, at least. I personally would like to see more advanced teaching and learning resources; it doesn’t really matter to me if the JLPT refuses to add a higher level – like I said, other major tests like the TOEIC don’t have one, and I think that’s too bad but… it’s their problem, not mine.

I’d say it’s probably more the former, but perhaps the latter applies in the case of very technical interviews. All Japanese employers relying on the JLPT for recruitment seem to be happy with the N1 for the moment anyhow, but again, like I said, that’s because language proficiency expectations in Japan are lower to begin with. I have to say that I think many European companies are happy to accept C1 candidates for most jobs as well, because C2 is so rare. (Even most of the university English teachers I know are only qualified at the C1 level.) Perhaps if more Japanese companies do international business, it’ll become more important.

One thing I want to ask though:

Is there a new Japanese test for universities now? Did I miss something? I just saw an N1 being required by the University of Tokyo for entering their Graduate School of Economics, and I’m not aware of any major competing standard. I also believe the JLPT generally is a popular requirement among universities that need to confirm applicants’ Japanese levels. The EJU is another possibility, but it’s been around for a long time, right?

3 Likes

I think the main reason is that C1 (a real C1, not a self-evaluated C1 to put as a flair on r/languagelearning) is actually a pretty high level. At C1 you have good fluency in the language and can effectively function in society in almost every setting with only minor issues. The gap between C1 and C2 is massive in terms of what you need to know, but in practice you hit such diminishing returns that most people will be fine at C1 level, if not a strong B2.

In fact judging by what I saw of the JLPT N1 so far I’d guess that it’s closer to B2 than C1, but I’m too much of a noob to make a good evaluation at this point. I’m probably somewhere between N4 and N3 at the moment, closer to N4.

I mean look at the guidelines, B2 is already what most people would consider fluent I think:

  • B2

Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.

  • C1

Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning. Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.

  • C2

Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. Can summarise information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation. Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in more complex situations.

I think I’m probably C2 in English by now, but I’ve been studying and using the language almost daily for decades now, and honestly I don’t think I’d fare too well on the spoken section of the test for lack of practice. I doubt I’ll ever get close to C2 in Japanese unless I decide to practice it aggressively over the next couple of decades and/or move there and spend a lot of time with natives.

TL;DR: “barely-C1-equivalent” is actually a very decent level for basically any practical purpose and I’m fairly certain that many N1 recipients do not actually qualify for it.

6 Likes

I think EJU is what I had in mind, but I haven’t been looking closely at this area, I just recalled having read something about JLPT not being an entrance requirement.

1 Like