December 9th, 2009
I noticed that lately many people find my blog with search queries such as “jlpt revised n3″, “text books for jlpt N3″, “prepare for N3 jlpt”, “jlpt n3 books”, etc. This makes a lot of sense, since the last of the old format JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) examinations was conducted last Sunday, the 6th of December, 2009.
Starting next year the JLPT will be replaced by the revised format, which is essentially the same as the old one, except that the first (vocabulary and characters) and third (reading and grammar) sections are merged into one big one (with no pause? that’ll be tough!). And, of course, the introduction of the new N3 level, which is between the old levels 2 (new level N2) and 3 (new level N4). The gap between the old levels 3 and 2 was indeed rather large, jumping from beginner’s book to serious hobby level with a 300% increase in vocabulary required, for instance.
And with the introduction of the N3 level, a whole new market for textbooks and study aids specifically targeting JLPT N3 opens up, and you’d expect the publishers to rejoice and then hurry to be the first one to the market with such a book, wouldn’t you? So last time I went by the big Kinokuniya book store in Yoyogi, out of curiosity of just how difficult/easy the new level n3 was I had a look at the old JLPT bookshelf (where I used to hang out, before I graduated from the JLPT). And lo and behold there were none! None study books targeting JLPT N3, that is! Lots of books and flash cards and stuff targeting the other, old levels, still though. A search on Amazon has the same result: no JLPT n3 books.
The bookshelf with textbooks for JLPT level N3.
So where are these books? Did the book writers/publishers not realize that there was going to be a guaranteed demand for them? Or are they hoping people will buy the remaining old format JLPT books before they introduce new once to the market? Because surely the demand for old ones will drop significantly once new ones are introduced, especially for the old levels 2 and 3, I would presume. Anyway, as soon as they’re out and I’ve had some time to evaluate them, I’ll update my Best Books for Learning Japanese page with recommendations on JLPT N3 books as well.
April 19th, 2009
I often get questions in comments on this blog and in email from people finding this blog through search engines regarding which books I recommend for studying for the JLPT or learning Japanese, or kanji, vocabulary, grammar, etc.
You might have noticed that my last couple of blog posts are based around the search queries used to find my site, and so is this post, since I decided to write something about the topics that people are searching for while finding my site but that I haven’t explicitly mentioned. I noticed a lot of search queries such as:
- which book is better for jlpt 2 kanzen or unicom?
- good vocab book jlpt level 2
- jlpt1 book recommendation
- best jlpt books
- kanzen master vs unicom reading
and sure enough I’ve mentioned these terms a lot in my blog, but never really recommended any books. So again utilizing the convenient Squidoo platform, I wrote up a page containing my Japanese learning book recommendations. So from now on I’ll make additions there and reference it from my blog instead of keeping book recommendations spread out over different blog posts without coherence.
Currently, I have organized the page into these categories:
and I’ve also written some general ideas I have about studying for each of these levels:
Anyway, all the books I recommend there are ones that I own or have owned (and sold) and have found useful. I’ve probably bought way more books than necessary over the years, but I find buying books for myself keeps me motivated to study, so it has probably been worth it in the end, even if some of those books sucked. I’ll add more books to that page over the coming weeks as I find the time to think up what actually made them good and write a review.
April 13th, 2009
After literally years of gathering materials and many full days of writing work, I’ve finally published my page on technical and business Japanese for software professionals (code monkeys) looking for a job in Japan or already working in Japanese companies or with Japanese clients who want to improve their programming Japanese.
The page consists of basically three main parts: Essential Japanese programming vocabulary, Expressions for communicating technical issues in Japanese (with a Part II), and A look at a Japanese software specification. They’re based on material I’ve gathered during my years working in Japan, mostly in completely disorganized, scattered text files, so collecting and choosing the useful bits of it for this page was more work than it should have been…
Actually, I first got the idea of writing a “Japanese for Programmers” book some time ago when talking with a former colleague. The idea was that there are so many especially Indian software developers working in Japan, but there are as yet no books aimed specifically at this segment, and there should be a huge market.
Anyway, I’m an avid reader of Seth Godin’s blog, and Seth is the guy behind Squidoo as well, so I naturally stumbled upon it. I gave it a go, and it’s actually a really fun and easy way to create modern, stylish, SEO’d web pages without having to bother with the technical issues.
And then in last month’s search queries used to find my site I saw “japanese speaking programming“, and that finally got me going to do something with my Japanese for Programmers idea – I mean people are searching for it, and they’re already finding my site from it (there’s no “Japanese for Programmers” site on the net anyhow!), despite me not specifically covering that topic, so it seems everything falls into place. And thus the Japanese for Programmers Squidoo “lens” was born!
So I hope it’ll get lots of readers and comments. I still have loads more material, so if it gets popular I might do a follow up. Here’s the URL again: