Now Featuring 1級 Grammar, Everyday Japanese That You Won't Find in the Book, and Language and Cultural Trivia!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Message to Yoji Readers, Re: JLPT 1級

Hey everyone,

Thanks for always reading and checking out the site.

Starting soon, well be updating the site with new JLPT1級 Grammar Posts.

Sorry to have kept you waiting for so long.

Just like in the past, we'll be using the "日本語能力試験実力アップ" series as our textbook, and the grammar that we learn there, we'll turn into posts.

We're always excited to have your cooperation and your kind comments or correction, but when it comes to commenting on the 1級 grammar posts, we have a request.

We take our studies very seriously, so we will try as hard as we can to make sure we don't post any mistaken or misleading examples or explanations.

1級 grammar though, consists largely of expressions that the average person does not use. So if you're not a Japanese teacher or someone with special knowledge of either Japanese grammar or the format/contents of the JLPT, please refrain from offering corrections.

It's a common phenomenon, but to cite a specific example, some time ago, when Daily Yoji contributor Brett wrote a post about the word "かぎり," as used to mean "very; extremely" he posted the example sentence "嬉しいかぎりだ."

In response to that, we received a comment explaining that かぎり doesn't mean "very" it means "during."

However, for the purpose of studying 1級, we are required to learn かぎり as "very" (かぎり as "during" is a usage covered in 2級), so I hate to say it but that comment, well-intentioned though it was, was actually counter-productive for us as well as our readership.

Along the same lines, the other day I was trying to make an example sentence using the point "いかんによらず" but when I consulted my Japanese friend studying at the desk next to me, I was told that "いかんによらず" is too old, and not commonly used, so I shouldn't try to use it in a sentence.

When dealing with those kinds of comments, you get confused, frustrated, and it's in no way encouraging. It actually has a negative effect on motivation.

Because of this, we hope that you'll recognize that we're trying to remember these grammar points, and even if there's something slightly awkward about our examples, if the meaning and the usage of the grammar point is not mistaken, we ask for your understanding, and your leniency.

Sincere apologies for going on at such length.

We look forward to our continued relations.




Jacob said...

Hi. Any idea why I thought you would be a JLPT3 Candidate by now instead?

Also, what would you say is the best way to learn Kanji. I am a Basic Jap student learning through a course based on Minna no Nihongo. Around lesson 20 after a year of learning (alone at first and last 6 months in class). Of course, that is solely grammar and I must admit my kanji skills are pretty poor. I pretty much have ~10 down (ka, do, sui, getsu, etc). Sure, the best advice right here probably is 'Just sit down and learn' but how? Just sit down and start doing rows after rows of the same kanji repeating to myself? or...? Thanks for any answers :)

AzzidisRidden said...

@Jacob: Maybe you're confused about the order of the tests?
JLPT4 is beginner level, 1 is the most advanced. Nirav, the Daily Yoji's resident Japanese guru passed level 1 like nine years ago. In his sleep. We admire and despise him in equal measure.

If you've really only got about ten down, then I would say, yeah, drilling with flash cards and writing is the best way to learn. Once you get more under your belt, I'm a big fan of reading and re-reading Japanese. I read Japanese short stories, Brett goes to town on manga, and Nirav is a speech writer for Prime Minister Hatoyama.

Have you ever checked out the flash cards at White Rabbit Press?
Good stuff.

Nirav said...

I would add that, especially when you are just starting, it's really important to make sure (be strict with yourself!) the basics - things like stroke order (including the various ways a stroke can end, all of which come from the practice of writing with a brush rather than a pen/pencil), what a radical is, etc., etc. One truism you hear a lot these days is that Japanese isn't written so much as typed anymore. While that is certainly true, and I suppose the vast majority of students of Japanese aren't going to be doing much handwriting, you are doing yourself a real disservice if you don't make sure you learn these things now. Your understanding of the way kanji (and Japanese orthography in general) function will be helped 1000-fold with a little effort at the onset.

Jeff's advice is spot-on - you need to supplement your memorization with actual use. Reading manga (especially manga aimed at elementary and middle school students) can be really helpful in this regard, in that it often contains furigana (the kana glosses that tell you how to read a given set of kanji). Although this is a great tool to get a lot of exposure to kanji quickly, there are two inherent dangers that you need to watch out for. One, people in manga just don't talk the same as people in real life. Absorbing too much "manga Japanese" is a surefire way to sound like a crazy person. Two, at some point it's really important to take the training wheels off. Getting too used to having furigana is bad when it gets to the point that you aren't really using them to learn. It's analogous to watching subtitled movies. At some point, you just need to turn off the subtitles and allow yourself to take the next step. Read real books/short stories (compared to the US at least, the Japanese literary scene has a strong short story culture which I know I find fantastic), or at least manga that is aimed at adults. Try reading short newspaper articles, too.

On the writing side, try making yourself write out (by hand!) 5-10 sentences using the kanji you've learned. This has the added value of forcing you to practice creating your own Japanese. Try to have someone look at it and let you know how you are doing, too.

Good luck!

Defendership said...

Agreed on all counts. I can personally confirm the "manga makes you sound like a crazy person" thing, since I pretty much WAS that crazy person for the first year or so of my longest stay in Japan. It's not a good thing when you're reaching for a way to say "this guy" in class and all that comes out is "こいつ"

the_greatest_pip said...

*singing* Tomorrow, tomorrow, I'll fail it tomorrow. It's only a day away! Any last minute study tips for us?

Jacob said...

Awesome tips, everyone, much appreciated!

You were right on the numbering, Rid.

I gotta admit I have been guilty of the lil shortcuts you said not to take, Nirav. However, I recently went to a Shodou demonstration and have come to appreciate the subtleties (and I GET why it's an art).

Also, any recommendations on the mangas you've talked about, with Furiganas? (Sorry for trying to save myself all the legwork :P)

And also, worry not about me soundign like a Crazy person. I think I do already, have forced myself on a couple outings with some friends from JICA over here and i've had to rely on 'xxx no yyy no zzz no toki/basho/hito' way too much. With sentence structure rules somewhat down and growing by the day, I need to build my vocab a lil better.

Thanks again, guys.