It’s been almost three months now since I passed the JLPT level 1 back in December. Passing the JLPT1 is not a major goal in my eyes, but nevertheless it serves as a very important milestone (not to mention its value as certification, but that’s a separate issue). It’s a milestone marking that from now on there are no specific text books, nor any kanji or vocabulary lists with content that needs to be studied any more. From now on the target is the whole darn Japanese language.
For the record, here’s a breakdown of my studies up until this point:
- Fall 2002-Summer 2003: Half-time basic course in Japanese at the university. (During this time I also studied engineering at around 150%, adding up to around 200% of full speed academic credits.)
- Fall 2003-Summer 2004: Japanese conversation and Technical Japanese at about one quarter speed. Also studied Japanese history, culture, society, and politics at one quarter speed, while keeping up with my regular engineering studies.
- Fall 2004-Fall 2005: Didn’t study much in particular. In October 2004 I went to Japan for the first time as part of the post-graduate program on East Asian business culture that I was enrolled with. In January 2005 I started working, and that summer I went to Japan again for work for almost 2 months in total. Still didn’t study much though.
- Fall 2005-Winter 2006: I transfered to the Tokyo office in early October 2005. After getting settled I took up my Japanese studies again. In early 2006 I resolved that I should pass JLPT level 2 that year, which I did – thanks to diligent studies and frequent opportinities for conversation practice.
- 2007: While the passive vocabulary and expressions I had picked up for JLPT2 soaked in and strengthened my active Japanese skills, I didn’t study much at all actually. I spent my spare time this year learning web technology stuff and doing web-based projects such as Unreal Soccer.
- 2008: In February, I resolved that I should pass the JLPT1 that year, with a good margin, thus essentially repeating what I had done in 2006. Started reading books in Japanese and listening to the radio every day, which improved my passive understanding of the language dramatically. By early fall I started digging into the JLPT1 textbooks for real, then slacked off, but got back with a vengeance a month or so before the test. Started using Anki for tracking and reviewing vocabulary and expressions.
And that leaves us where we are today. So, adding up years spent studying and counting the half-time basic Japanese classes I took as one year’s worth of studies (that’s how the university counts it, anyway), it adds up to three full years – two of which I spent in Japan. Seems pretty reasonable to me, for passing the JLPT1.
Next up, I’ll be writing about what I’ve learned about learning, how this could have been done more efficiently, and how I’m going to study from now on.