jona: a nomming panda (panda - nom)
I'm at home, sick with a major cold. I feel mostly gross and a little bit twitchy, but I also appreciate the fact that I got sick a week after my holiday, not during or (oh god) on that horrible plane. So, uh, well done on timing, germs?

Anyway, it lets me write LJ posts about the JLPT, where I tried to pass the N3 in July.

Aaaaaaand... *drummroll* )
jona: (GKS - bigin)

I'm just back from a weekend in Düsseldorf, which included the lovely company of [ profile] ina, [ profile] nightinbird, [ profile] b_akakame and [ profile] aya_3003, my first booze since the Great Gorilla Hangover of 2014, not a great deal of sleep, fic exchange matching at [ profile] solo's mom's kitchen table, and the first time I was at a ramen restaurant in Düsseldorf and didn't order ramen.

That last part is probably the most shocking. ^_^

Being a cheapo, I opted for bus over train, and while that meant a long-ass trip, I had no crazy ladies sitting next to me. (I did have a hen night party and various 'travelling to Cologne to get drunk' parties on the same bus as me, but them's the breaks.) I arrived at home yesterday at 4 and had to hit the ground running as I had an English student and then politics until late, so I'm feeling kind of knackered, but I honestly had a wonderful weekend that was a proper break from work stress and current work deadlines -- much thanks to the fangirls who came out to play! <3

Now for the obligatory JLPT recap!

(1) Vocabulary & kanji
I think I did pretty well. There were three terms I'd never heard of before and three more where I was more guessing, but I'd still kind of expect a score around 80% on this part. The most interesting difference to N4 was that the 'how to use this word correctly' part (as in, you get a term like 内容 and then four sentences using this word, and only one is correct) got noticeably trickier in that all four sentences, literally translated, seemed potentially correct (in the 内容 example, they were all about some type of 'content') and you needed to know which context the word is normally used in. To me that was new, and N4 was still more 'I put the elephant in the drawer' vs. 'I see the elephant at the zoo'. At the end I had five minutes to spare.

(2) Grammar & reading
Not great. I made a strategic error, in part because I underestimated my reading comprehension -- not that that's OMG SUPER AWESOME but in relation to my grammar skillz, it was unexpectedly better. During N4, I'd done okay on the grammar and then struggled with the MASS OF READING, and I'd also struggled with understanding the answers. Meaning back then I generally understood the texts fine but didn't always know WTF the potential answers meant. So now I did the exam part in order, starting on grammar because I figured those points would still be 'easier' (more points in less time) than the reading points. But I was utterly terrible at the grammar -- I'm pretty sure I didn't get a single of the 'arrange the words into the correct order' questions right, and I spent a lot of time on those. And then I found the reading part surprisingly enjoyable. Time-consuming, yes, but I felt much less bamboozled by the answers and actually had fun with the texts. But then I did run out of time and for one text, with four questions, I ended up just making random dots on the answer sheet because the time was up. After this section, I figured I hadn't yet failed; I don't think I did so badly that I'll fall below the 'sectional minimum', and I was thinking that if I did well on the listening, the vocab & listening could still cancel out the grammar problems. I'm kind of expecting a 40-50% score on this one.

(3) Listening
Well. Let's just say that I did not to 'really well' on this one. Better than at grammar and reading, but probably not well enough to pull up my overall score to 'pass'. It was an interesting experience in that I felt exactly what the step up from N4 was (the 'near-natural speed' part of the speaking), and this was also exactly what I struggled with. No lie, I knew nearly all the words and the grammar constructions or baby keigo didn't throw me, but I could feel my brain going 'wait!!! WAIT!!! GIVE ME TWO SECONDS TO PROCESS!!' all the time. Basically, I still would have needed a two second break after each sentence just to sort it in my head, but the 'near natural speed' part was still beyond me. I'm guessing I'll score around 50-60% on this? Maybe?

If all my guesses are correct, I'm probably somewhere just around the fail/pass threshold. My gut feeling is 'failed but not totally tanked'. Exept of course all my guesses could be wrong, too! We will see come September. ^_^

Anyone else take the test this July?

I still owe some comment replies on other matters -- they will be gotten to shortly!
jona: a nomming panda (panda - nom)
The bento experiment continues and has so far not broken down yet!

Last weekend I made a few more different things, four varieties of veggies for the week and two more meat types for the freezer.

-- carrot kinpira, which was nice and easy though I don't think I love sesame oil as much as I should
-- sweet simmered shiitake mushrooms, which had been MISSING FROM MY LIFE #nom
-- boiled pumpkin, which is super-easy and tasty. With the type of pumpkin I could buy, though, I had to boil it a bit longer than was ideal for the inner parts for the skin to become edible.
-- sweet potato, an excellent easy addition. However, a protip from me: when you stand there and wonder 'why on earth does this recipe give me enough to go in bentos for a month, not a week?' you might want to re-check the recipe, where you will find that it asked for 80g of sweet potato, not 800g. *cough* (I ate a lot of sweet potato last week.)
-- miso chicken and teriyaki chicken for new meat types. This was a little tricky because Germany doesn't really go for de-boned chicken thighs, you just get the whole thing, bones and all. Then you can either stand there and sweat and try to peel the meat off the bone while still raw (did that once in 2003; never again), or you can cook it and then peel it off. I tried two different routes: I marinated the teriyaki chicken thighs, fried them the next day, then peeled off the meat and fried the bits in the marinade too. I microwaved two legs for the miso chicken, then peeled off the microwaved meat and marinated that in the miso marinade. Both ways produced tasty results, but were an unholy mess, never mind the time it took to do everything in two stages. Plus the bits got very bitty indeed.

The bento line-up:

Bentooooo. )


In other weeaboo news, I passed the JLPT N4. \o/

Score, because I'm too lazy to type it up. )

I was admittedly reasonably sure I'd passed, but whether I'd passed okay enough to feel like trying the N3 in July, I had no idea, and was becoming increasingly concerned about that.

When I first saw my score, I wasn't really sure what to make of it, mostly because I'd done surprisingly well on the listening (despite that exercise that asked about THE SHAPE THE CUCUMBERS AND CARROTS ARE CUT IN), but lost quite a few points on vocab/reading/grammar. On the other hand, reading was definitely the hardest, so it wouldn't surprise me too much if that's where I lost the majority of points. I also didn't think it was that good a score, but compared to at least previous years' statistics my 155 points seem to be actually pretty good!

So, anyway, I don't think this means I'll have an easy time with N3, but at least I feel like it won't be totally silly and a waste of money (apart from the general waste of money that is a test that I don't really need) to try for it in July. :D


Aug. 1st, 2013 05:34 pm
jona: (GKS - bigin)
So, I requested the application forms for the December 2013 JLPT test. It's not the first time I've requested the forms, but it's the first time I'm pretty sure that, barring concert miracles, I'm going to take my very first JLPT test in December.

What I don't know yet is at which level. I don't know if I should go for the N4 or the N3, essentially.

What I'm currently doing in terms of Japanese study: dairly vocab and kanji drilling on, daily; a few hours a week watching Japanese-subtitled drama; trying to remember the grammar I've already learned by writing to a Japanese pen pal.

I'm pretty sure that if I took a week or two for some more focused review of grammar and got a bit more familiar with practice tests, I could pass the N4 right now. I have a Renshuu schedule with the N5+N4 vocab and am feeling very confident about that already; I have a kanji schedule with the N5+N4+N3 kanji, and for mere passive recognition, I'm feeling confident about maybe 60%, and it's still four months until the test.

I've taken a few (small) mock tests online, and found the N4 mock tests relatively easy, but the N3 mock tests a serious jump up, where just the vocab makes me flail quite a bit.

I made myself a schedule for the N3 vocab**, which by itself contains about the same number of words all my previous schedules had combined, and I am finding that schedule very hard, with the traditional OMG THEY ALL SOUND THE SAME!! hair-tearing whenever new words come up. I still have 1770 words I haven't even seen in that schedule. I also know people who are way ahead of me on the Japanese comprehension front who failed the N3, and people who are way way ahead of me who passed it but not exactly with flying colours.

What I also haven't done yet is a timed mock-test, and I do recall that the time pressure tended to be an issue for people who were otherwise well-prepared.

So I'm basically torn between going for the N4, where the material wouldn't put me under too much pressure until December, and where I'd have a chance to get to know the test atmosphere and how it all works at a level I have, I think, a decent chance of passing, or going for the N3, where I'd have a fairly high chance of failing, and the question would be more how well I'd fail.

I'm really not sure. On the one hand, going for the more difficult test would be more incentive to get cracking on the vocab, and I'm not terribly afraid of 'failing' as such. So I admit I'm tempted. On the other hand, I may be completely overestimating myself and if we're not talking failing but tanking, and I take the N3 and end up completely overwhelmed for the whole three hour test, that isn't much fun either, and maybe not such a learning experience as the N4 would have been. Not so much into trauma, me! Additionally, I don't know how much info you get on where and why you failed and if that helps any.

Money and travel-wise, it probably doesn't make much difference in the long run whether I take the N4 this year, pass, and then try the N3 next year, or whether I try the N3 now, fail, and then try the N3 again next year. But I don't know, because of all these pros and cons re: motivation and studying effort.

I may also of course completely misunderestimate the N4. Argh!

Any thoughts? Experience? Anyone want to weigh in with their JLPT strategies?

**I know the N3 materials on Renshuu aren't official because there are no official materials anymore, but I'm guessing it's a decent yardstick anyway.


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the paranoid android

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