I am preparing the JLPT N2, and I think that I might have put myself too much into it. I met several Korean students who passed N1 and even a girl who got a full mark at the section “language knowledge” of N1 😳
I also saw that some Koreans can pass N2 in 4 months (beginning from nothing) and it made me reflect upon level and enthusiasm and how one is so much more important than the other.
Don’t pass N2 in 4 months
Last week, I came across this advertisement for an institute in Seoul (Japanese sisa) that offers a course to pass N2 in 4 months. (I roughly translated it)
As you can see, the course aims at complete beginners and promises that you will get N2 in only 4 months. The line that I translated in light blue indicates clearly that the purpose of this course is to add a line to your resume.
If you can study like Koreans do, it is maybe possible to pass N2 in 4 months, but still, I was very shocked when I saw that. For these course takers, the purpose of “learning Japanese” (“cramming for a test” would suit more I think) is only to add a line to their resume and make their way through a very competitive, demanding and stressful society.
If you don’t need to make your resume look like it has a hoarding disorder don’t try to pass N2 in 4 months. Take your time and enjoy every step of your Japanese learning journey!
Japanese learners who study on their own have to face the big challenge of staying motivated, especially if they are not living in Japan and don’t have the opportunity to go there often or even at all. But they have something that is priceless: they are enthusiastic. When I read blogs of beginners who start memorising hiragana, I feel empowered by their energy. Even people who don’t invest much time in Japanese and spend weeks or months to learn the alphabets and their first kanji are so much more inspiring than those who passed N2 in 4 months… because they are so excited about it.
I was too much focused on JLPT these days, and now I try to be as enthusiastic as I was at the beginning. I realise that the real source of motivation is not “how good you are in Japanese” but “how enthusiastic and excited you are about learning Japanese”, “how much you love Japanese”. Unfortunately, I experienced that excitement and level grow in opposite directions.
It’s the same for all languages, the farther you go, the more boring become the words you encounter, the articles you read. The excitement of the first days, when you learned how to say “this is a book” in a manual full of cute drawings tends to fade away, and you are only faced with serious, grown-up material.
(if you want to know the difference between these grammars, have a look at lesson 5 of the Shin Kanzen Grammar book for N2)
Let’s find back the excitement of the first days/months! I guess we all have our reasons why we are so excited about learning Japanese.
I wish people would not ask “how is your Japanese level?” or “how good you are in Japanese?” but “how much do you love Japanese?” or “what excites you so much about Japanese culture?”. Your Japanese level can be compared to the kilometres you have made, but your enthusiasm for Japanese is the energy that keeps you going. If I wanted to go somewhere, I would not worry about the distance made yet, but about the strength and power I have in reserve.