Monday, December 25, 2006


After my appalling performance in the J.TEST, I need a breakthrough in Japanese. Although, while I was taking the test, I could feel I was doing much better than I had before, the score shows that I have not improved significantly. To say the least, it was not what I had expected. I have been working for 20 months in a Japanese language-only environment, however it is not the type of work that is going to take one to fluency. More must be done! I will not remain content with my current level. In fact, I am almost at the point where reading in Japanese is less burdensome. Now is the time to turn on the intensity. I will search for audio material to listen to intensively and I will acquire the words, phrasings, and way of thinking in the language. I will not study for tests.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

J.TEST results

Today, exactly four weeks after taking the J.TEST, the results were delivered by Yamato black cat delivery. Notice, this is much better than for the JLPT which takes 9 or 10 weeks to get the results. My test score is a mere 83 points better than I scored 2.5 years ago. That is an astonishing 33 point improvement per annum.

AD Level Scores
  • 11/2006 459 points
  • 04/2004 376 points
This is not enough to receive a D level certificate. One thing to note, the score report mentions a "New format from June 2005." I have no idea what that means. Anyway, I got my test booklet back along with a report of my answers and the correct answers. Also, the transcript of the listening dialogues was included. So I can use all of this to study and learn something.

I would really like to listen to and read interesting content intensively and then extensively. I have not yet found such content. Just about anything that is out there is going to be well above my ability to enjoyably understand. Plus, this method has not been developed for learners so what's out there will be in Japanese and not easily found.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Professor Catherine Snow

I found an interesting interview on the internet from The news source of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The interview is with Professor Catherine Snow who has a Ph.D. from McGill University and is "an expert on language and literacy development in children."

In the interview, she states exactly what I have always felt, but she does so with authority. She says, "there is no critical period for second-language learning."

It is a very interesting interview, and I encourage you to read it for yourself.
The interview can be found here.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Way of The Linguist

Late Thursday night, I ordered The Way of The Linguist: A Language Learning Odyssey from Amazon Japan. It was the last copy in stock. If you live outside of Japan, you can try to get a copy from I had read an excerpt of the book before and have been looking forward to reading the book ever since.

After I read the book, I will post some thoughts on it. There is an E-book version in several languages as well as English. I wish I could get a printed copy of the Japanese version. Oh well, I guess someday when I learn to read Chinese, I can read the printed version of it in Chinese.

Oh, I just realized that I didn't write everything I had intended to write. So, I ordered the book Thursday night, online, of course. Instead of paying with a credit card, I went to the convenience store, used a machine there to print out my purchase order. I took that print-out to the register and paid for the book. The clerk printed out a regular cash register receipt and also a special receipt which was stamped with a date-stamp which also has the store name and store number on it. Then Amazon Japan shipped my book Friday and it arrived today (Saturday). Shipping was free. If I had wanted to pay for shipping, I could have received the book on Friday. But why would I want to do that?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Goal setting

A goal, in my definition, is a specified objective which you will achieve. That's right. You will achieve your goal. There is no doubt about it. No question. If any doubt exists, then you will not reach your objective and therefor it is not a goal.

Is there anyone who disagrees with my definition?

I have decided that once a goal has been set, you must not give up. Obviously, if you quit, you will not reach your objective and therefor it was never a goal. But the important point here is not to give up. You must not suddenly decide that your goal is not worth it. When you realize just how hard what you are doing is, you must never let yourself come to the conclusion that the goal is not worth all the hard work and trouble that you are going through. Before you set your goal, you should determine the value of reaching the objective. If it is not valuable, then why would you set it as a goal?

After you set your goal, you are not allowed to re-evaluate its worthiness. The reason for this is to ensure success. Without this strict "No quitting" rule, you would surely never achieve anything. After you have reached your goal, you may take some time to decide whether it was worth it or not.

The next big question is, how do you set goals? Does anybody have any ideas or experience? I would love to hear your advice.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

JLPT in China

It looks like the Japanese Language Proficiency Test is really popular in China. There's this news article about it which I'll paste here. It says that 200,000 people in China took the Japanese language test this year. That is an increase of 46% over last year.

<日本語試験>中国で20万人超が挑戦 前年比46%増


Speaking of China, now that my supposed study for the JLPT is over, I've resumed my Chinese studies. I'm now using Assimil With Ease. I edited out the exercises so that I just have the dialogue and I removed all the spaces. So I've got the first lesson down to 15 seconds. I loop the audio and start speaking along with the dialogue. I worked on it for one hour in which it looped 250 times. I only spoke the part of one person at a time. Doing both parts was too tiring.

I started on lesson 2 today but my throat quickly became sore. I'll have to build up those muscles for speaking.


Sunday, December 03, 2006


Today I took the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) Level 2. I'm pretty sure I did a lot better than I did on the practice test yesterday. I think the test this year was designed for Keith. Only the words that Keith knows were put on the test.

Well, we won't know for sure until the results are announced. I will receive my score and certificate in February. I think I'll take level 2 again next year, and the year after that, and every year until I can get a perfect score. I don't want to study for it anymore. I should just be working on reading articles and looking up the things I don't know.

The grammar is really the hardest section on the test. I can't study the grammar for this test. I can't memorize all 173 grammar points and whether they follow a noun or an adjective or a verb. But if I can get a feel for it, I'll be able to get those questions right.

There are usually four choices per question. In the vocabulary section there are words which you have to choose the reading because they are in kanji. I remember one where I didn't know the reading or meaning of it. But out of the four choices, I knew what three of them meant and I was pretty sure that none of them were the correct answer. So I chose the unknown answer. After the test, I looked up the word and when I saw the reading I knew that that was the answer I had chosen.


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Study for a test

Today I've been studying for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (日本語能力試験) JLPT. The test is tomorrow. I didn't study at all in November. I studied before that though.

I took the 1999 test today at home. I bought the test about 5 or 6 years ago. I did worse on vocabulary and listening than I did on the 2005 test last year. But I did better on the reading and grammar section. So overall, the score I got on my practice test is not much better than the score I got on the test last year. I got 58% today, while at least 60% will be needed tomorrow to pass.

A whole year has passed since I took the test last year. I guess I haven't learned much since then.


今日、家で平成11年度の試験をやってみた。5、6年前にその試験を買った。去年の実際に受けた試験の結果より、「文字・語彙」と「聴解」はよくなかった が「読解・文法」はよかった。全体として実習試験は去年の試験の得点とほぼ同じです。今日、結果は 58% ながら、明日、合格になれば 60% が必要です。



Friday, December 01, 2006

Why no understand

Today, I tried to say in Japanese something like, "That is the same thing Mr. Kuma said" and was not immediately understood. Afterwards, thinking about it, I thought maybe I was not speaking loudly enough. No, that couldn't be it.

Then I realized that I must not have said it the natural way. That's right! I don't know how that would normally be said. In order to be understood, you need to speak the way people usually speak. Even if it's hard to hear, the mind can process the audio and fill in the _______. But when you speak in an unnatural way, people can't understand you so easily.

So the key to being understood is to speak like a native! :D I mean, you have to use natural expressions and phrasing. Should we study them? No! Instead, we can just expose ourselves to lots of the language. This is what is known as massive input. I first learned about massive input from Steve Kaufmann.

By the way, the title of this article is an example of unnatural phrasing. The difference between, "why no understand" and "why they don't understand" is that one is natural and the other is not.

So the next time someone doesn't understand you, it might not be your accent. It might just be your wording. So now you know... why they don't understand.