October is almost over, and I have hoped that I would be left with only revisions to do (no new words or grammar) for the last month of preparation for JLPT N2. Well, I am more or less where I wanted to be. Let’s turn back on what happened in October.
I am working with the Shin Kanzen Master series. The vocabulary book is very smartly designed. The first lessons that I have completed at the end of September introduced a lot of vocabulary. The following part that I am still studying right now comes back on known words to deepen our understanding of their usage. Some of these lessons have been a lightning of comprehension in the midst of confusion. Especially concerning synonyms. I struggled a lot to differentiate similar words and adverbs. The Shin Kanzen book offers exactly what I needed.
Moreover, I realised how helpful it can be to work with a Japanese-Japanese dictionary. The Shin Kanzen books offer nothing more than Japanese (no English translations), and this has been very powerful to help me understand synonyms.
I totally gave up learning the list of kanji needed for N2. The reason is that I already know all of these kanji from Chinese (that I studied years ago) and even though I sincerely wanted to explore them again, I felt no sense of progression at all.
I finally gave up the list and focused entirely on the exercises of the book (here again, Shin Kanzen series). I already said it in a previous post, but I love these exercises. They force me to actually write kanji and check how well I remember them.
Same as vocabulary, I reached the second half of the book, where already learned grammar points are being reviewed again. The last part of the book, which I am studying now, focuses on how to better analyse a sentence or a text (for example: has the action already happened or is about to happen? Should the verb be transitive or intransitive? etc.)
Even though I felt totally overwhelmed by all the grammar points to learn, reaching the last chapters of the book allows me to revise, and put some order in all this.
One other thing that helps me with the grammar lately is the novel The Temple of the Golden Pavillon by Yukio Mishima. I started reading this book in Japanese some days ago, and I have reached a third of the novel now. I find a lot of N2 grammar in the novel, which helps me memorise it.
As I said in a previous post, I recently started a bullet journal. One of the “collections” of my journal is a “JLPT log” where I simply note the remaining lessons for each book vs the remaining day. I use a double page to do it. On the left, a column with the remaining days. On the top, a line with each of the five books from the series. Every time I study a lesson on a given day, I write the number of remaining lessons for this book. For example, let’s say I still have 6 lessons of vocabulary to study before finishing the book. If I study one lesson today, I will write “5” in front of today’s date, in the “vocabulary” column.
I find it very useful because I more or less lost track of my initial study plan. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I am behind schedule, though. The most important thing to me is to finish the books before December 3rd (date of the JLPT), and keeping this kind of table is a simple way to make sure that I will be able to complete the books in time.
And of course, November will be the month to exercise. I have several practice tests to do in exams conditions, I will have to plan real sessions when I know I won’t be interrupted. Maybe going to a coffee shop where I know I can stay long is the best option.
Of course, I will upload more information about the practice test I use.
I feel that studying for the JLPT with the Shin Kanzen series was a little like this:
First, you have to remember a lot of new things, and this is the most difficult and discouraging part. However, as you just started at the time, you are less likely to give up, being full of energy and motivation. When the motivation begins to fade away, the lessons become more gentle, I felt like the book is taking me by the hand and telling me that it’s okay, we will go through the whole thing again because it was difficult. After a moment of calm to recover both motivation and self-confidence, you are ready to the last part, exercising with mock tests, where you have to be at the top again and give the best of yourself.