The land of the Rising Sun, Japan, is one of the highly advanced economies in the world. There is no other country that has such a passionate penchant for innovation and peculiar interests like Japan, and it is no surprise that people would want to study and/or work there. From its robust education system to a tedious but sincere work culture, you should expect to find the right state of the environment to groom your personality in whichever capacity you choose to come here. However, there will most definitely be one roadblock that will be hard to overcome: nihongo.
Nihongo or colloquially called the Japanese language is intricate, extensive, and layered. The sheer degrees of formal and informal variations in the language are incredible and hard to muster. But, the Japanese mostly speak Nihongo. Even the universities and workspaces rarely use English. This means you will have to inevitably learn the local language if you wish to survive in the country. Not only that, but you will also have to present proof that you can speak and write in the said language considerably. For that, you will have to write the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT).
Since you will have to apply for this test, there are a few things you should know about it. This is, especially, important for students because proficiency in Japanese is indispensable in your case. So, let us take note of what you should know:
- The format
JLPT is a standardized test, very much like TOEFL and ILETS. It aims to check your readiness to understand the Japanese lifestyle and culture and communicate effectively. The format, therefore, tests you on all those aspects. It has 5 levels labeled as N1, N2, N3, N4, N5, with N6 being the lowest level. The areas a candidate is tested in are majorly listening and reading. The overall passing grade depends very much on the level you are taking.
- The Application and result cycle
JLPT is conducted twice a year in Japan and a few selected countries. There are, also, countries where the test is held annually so make sure you know where your country falls. The application cycle generally starts from March and continues until the end of April; this cycle is for July’s test. The second round of application begins from August and continues until September; this cycle is for December’s test. Until 2012, the results were mailed out to respective candidates but since 2012, the results are first declared online.
- Facts on Acceptance
The Government of Japan follows a point-based Preferential Immigration Treatment System for Highly Skilled Foreign Professionals”. This system assigns points to the various levels of JLPT. For example, a person who passed JLPT N2 gets 10 points whereas those who passed N2 get 15. Higher the score, higher the preferential treatment you would get. Students who pass the highest N1 level may be exempted from taking the Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students. It is important, however, for students to confirm with the universities they have applied to whether the said exemption is extended or not.
- Make Japanese Literature and Media Your Best Friend
JLPT is not a cupcake; you don’t just eat it and you are done. There is so much you will end up learning that it could be intimidating. If you wish to score the highest possible, then you should accept the value of embracing the Japanese culture to understand the language. The best way is to read Japanese books, watch Japanese movies, and listen to Japanese music. Nihongo is a contextual language, which means you will have to understand the context in which the communication is being made. You may want to start with anime or manga (comics), which are the most popular forms of entertainment in Japan.
- Practice and Practice
Once you start reading up the language, you will realize that it is as vast as the sea. You will have to hone your memory skills, and for that, you should practice as much as you can. Take up online lectures on Japanese, consult experts, practice mocks as much as you can, and use flashcards. Retention capability is essential if you wish to crack JLPT.
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