So, I finally took the bull by the horns and decided to start my study plan for my JLPT test. I had said it every year and each year I just let the test pass me by each time. Well, I am feeling good because I have taken the first step; I thought about how to start! I think the most important thing to do when beginning any plan is to look at strengthening weaknesses. In my language acquisition of Japanese, I had found that I lack vocabulary to say or understand most of what I heard. I definitely felt overwhelmed by how to tackle this weakness.
Out of shear desperation of not understanding fifty percent of a Japanese business conversation, I started to more aggressively ask about words to my co-workers and they have been more than happy to answer. Mostly in part because I am consistently doing the same for them in English. I am thankful for this massively supportive resource… However it is limited. Sure I could ask any native Japanese speaker the following phrase: 日本語で「financial statements」を何と言いますか。(nihongo de, financial statements [w]o, nanto iimasuka?) This is the most important phrase you could use when learning Japanese. But the reason it is limited is because it only involves my lexicon. If there is anything that comes up in a conversation I can’t understand or catch, I am out of luck. In my situation I am listening to a business meeting and have no right to stop it just for my selfish curiosity. We are pressed for time so my co-workers just translate when I give a look of incomprehension. Certainly I can ask outside of work to any number of native Japanese speakers with many helpful phrases, which I do. Again, I end up using the lexicon of both myself and my interlocutor. I feel I am learning a lot from this method but I felt I was doing unfocused studying. I also have been watching Japanese TV everyday to pick up things and it is a very slow acquisition process but fun none the less.
That’s about to change with this book I found. 「日本語単語スピードマスター」(Nihongo tango supiido mastaa) This provides me with all the necessary vocabulary for the level 3 test that I will take. I have been using it at least for 10 minutes a day and have found that it was just what I need to strengthen my weakness. I would recommend it to anyone who plans to take this level with the same weakness as me. Try it out. It will even say Japanese sentences using the vocabulary that will help in everyday life on the provided CD.