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Experiences in Asia

Preparing for the JPLT

JAPAN | Saturday, 27 May 2006 | Views [8340] | Comments [19]

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So as you all know, I am enrolled at the moment at a Japanese school. I attend school for four hours a day, and the course that I am enrolled on is designed to get me to pass the JPLT test, which is the internationally recognised test which determines Japanese ability. There are four levels, level four being the lowest, so of course, level 1 being fluent enough to live in Japan as a native. 


I will not be aiming for level 1! My teacher seems to think that level 3 is a good target to aim for. The test is in December, so I have 5 more months of study before I sit it.


The major problem with the test is the Chinese kanji characters that the Japanese use in their writing. At the moment we have four hours a week set aside for the study of Kanji. In order to be successful at level three, I must know 300 kanji, and their meanings. This might be possible, but for the fact that near enough all kanji have multiple readings. The Japanese language uses Japanese, and also, the Chinese reading. This making it extremely difficult! The names of these types of readings are called "Onyomi", or Chinese reading, and "Kunyomi" , or Japanese.

Take the Kanji for WATER, for instance:

This type of kanji is one for the first that you might learn. The readings include "sui" (onyomi) and "mizu" (Kunyomi). For instance, if you wanted to write Wednesday, you would use this character. Also, if you wanted to write water, you would also use this character, but importantly, you would use the correct saying! You would not say Mizu-day for instance, but rather "Suiyobi". imagine how nightmarish this gets with the harder kanji!

But we have a good teacher and an excellent study programme, so I think we will all have a good shot at passing the exams, unlike conversation, which you can improve by talking with yourt friends, understanding kanji comes from basically just sitting down at the table, writing it correctly, and then trying to remember the readings, and using them in sentences- boring stuff!


More on this later.........

Tags: Culture

Comments

1

mate, best of luck! A great description of the challenges learning this language. I reckon time and perseverance are the key (of which I have neither).

  simon_monk May 27, 2006 9:48 PM

2

I'm waiting for the day the Japanese will abandon kanji in favor of roman characters with lots of accent marks. Vietnam ditched chinese characters in favor of the french-created romanization of their language, vastly increasing literacy. Kanji is cool, but the amount of time wasting memorizing hundreds of characters and their many readings is stupid.

Most Japanese people are only semi-literate. It has gotten to the point where they have to have quiz shows on TV about the reading of certain kanji.

Level 3 of the JLPT isn't so bad. But the jump from 3 to 2 is incredibly hard...

  James May 27, 2006 10:51 PM

3

have any kanji supremos noticed the deliberate mistake?

  dan_in_japan May 29, 2006 7:20 PM

4

Nobody notice? This is in fact the Kanji for "Ice", not "water", the subtle difference being the dash at the top of the kanji- highlighting another problem faced by foreigners trying to decipher the language- so many Kanji are almost the same!

  dan_in_japan Jun 9, 2006 7:36 AM

5

Hi Dan, I happened across your blog while looking for somebody elses website. Just thought you'd like to know that the kanji above actually means eternity (on-yomi "ei", kun-yomi "naga.i"). There's an even subtler difference between this and koori (ice) than between koori and mizu.

  Gav Jun 19, 2006 9:26 PM

6

Can you believe it- a bone fide Japanese person told me that the Kanji was definitely "Ice"- proving the relevance of this particular post- Japanese is Muzugashii....

  dan_in_japan Jun 19, 2006 11:50 PM

7

I found your blog while searching under the JLPT myself. Good luck with that. I'm preparing myself, a decade later from working and living in Japan. Keep us updated.

Kanji IS very difficult, and with the various ON-yomi, plus the KUN-yomi Japanese makes Kanji study extra difficult.

The character above is ON: EI; KUN: Naga(i). The character for KOU [kouri(ice) or kouru (to freeze)] has the "dash" above the third stroke at the left. Not at the top. Subtle.

  Bryan Oct 23, 2006 3:17 AM

8

I found your blog while searching under the JLPT myself. Good luck with that. I'm preparing myself, a decade later from working and living in Japan. Keep us updated.

Kanji IS very difficult, and with the various ON-yomi, plus the KUN-yomi Japanese makes Kanji study extra difficult.

The character above is ON: EI; KUN: Naga(i). The character for KOU [kouri(ice) or kouru (to freeze)] has the "dash" above the third stroke at the left. Not at the top. Subtle.

  Bryan Oct 23, 2006 6:14 AM

9

Hey Brian, thanks for the post- keep in touch, and of course, any study hints gratefully received!

  Dan Tinsley Oct 23, 2006 7:13 PM

10

The kanji on this page is not water. It means "long", or "long lasting", or "forever".

  Me Jan 24, 2007 3:35 PM

11

Tensai!

  dan_in_japan Jan 24, 2007 4:51 PM

12

that's my name yong

  yong Jul 12, 2007 10:41 AM

13

its yong in chinese, meaning forever

  chinese guy Nov 23, 2007 3:51 AM

14

The picture of that Kanji (Chinese character) is ETERNITY (FOREVER), not WATER.

  Huffster Jul 20, 2008 1:34 PM

15

Spot on......

  dan_in_japan Jul 20, 2008 8:44 PM

16

arigatou gozaimashita ne,
so ima nihon de benkyoshimasu ka?
ganbatte kudasai ne, india kara...:)

  tanaya Aug 4, 2008 11:46 AM

17

I have joined jlpt so please support your asst. and also help him out my questions

  joshi Aug 22, 2009 7:25 PM

18

i need to clarify here onyomi in fact is from chinese and kunyomi is from japanese itself

  ivyyue Jul 20, 2010 9:42 PM

19

I was looking for this kanji, but I only knew it was similar to water. Then I found your post when I searched for water. Even it was a little mistake, it helped me find the real kanji for eternity ^^ Hugs!

  Ricardo Dec 8, 2014 5:34 AM

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