How to test Japanese proficiency

How to test Japanese proficiency? Is there any International exam or testing system to know at what level someone is?

The exam to test Japanese proficiency is called as “JLPT” i.e., Japanese Language Proficiency Test. There are 5 levels N5, N4, N3, N2 and N1. N5 level is the beginner level and N1 is mastery level. JLPT test certificates are valid for life, however some Universities and companies specify or set limit for its validity. The JLPT test has only two parts: Reading and Listening. The exam is held twice a year (July & December) in nearly 7-8 locations throughout India, including Bangalore.

Level Language Proficiency expected per level
N5
  • Can read basic and understand phrases and sentences expressed in a combination of all three scripts of Japanese i.e., Hiragana, Katakana and nearly 100 Kanji’s.
  • Able to listen and understand conversations based on everyday situations like at a school/classroom, at market, at shop etc., and is able to pick out important points of the short conversation if spoken clearly and slowly.
N4
  • Ability to read and comprehend longer phrases and short passages written using basic vocabulary and nearly 300 Kanji’s.
  • Can listen and respond to polite questions, commands and requests. Is able to understand the intent and general meaning in an uncomplicated speech.
N3
  • Can read and write simple paragraphs, journals, letters and essays.
  • Can listen and understand the intent and meaning of a carefully conveyed conversation.
  • Can read simple articles, Japanese-Japanese dictionary, simple topics in Japanese Wikipedia, short poems and stories. Can understand nearly 700 Kanji.
N2
  • Ability to comprehend Japanese in a day to day scenario and in a variety of situations to some degree.
  • Can read information on common topics in print media and understand the point of view of the author/writer/editor.
  • Can listen and follow the essential points and ideas presented in a day to day conversation if  spoken at natural speed, news reports etc.,
N1
  • Ability to read and comprehend in a logical manner the structures and contents of normal and some abstract texts on a variety of subjects from various editorials like magazines, newspapers.
  • Ability to read writing materials with complex content on variety of subjects, including the narratives. Also in some textual context comprehend the intent and point of view of the writer or the author of the text.Ability to listen and understand comprehensively the idea and content of conversations, news reports and lectures that is spoken at a natural speed on a broad variety of settings.
  • Ability to understand the details of a presented materials its logical structure and the essential points of the material.

Is Japanese a difficult language to learn

Is Japanese a difficult language to learn ?

Contrary to the common myth or belief that Japanese is a very difficult language to learn, the two kanas are very easy to learn. However the Kanji characters could little challenging to learn. Japanese characters can be compared to strokes and is unlike roman alphabets. A person can start reading Japanese text if he has mastered the Hiragana and Katakana characters.  Also the other good news is that the words are pronounced the same way as they are spelled and as result you do not have to remember the spellings of each and every word. This is possible because of the use of fewer consonants and simpler pronunciation system of Japanese language as compared to some of the European languages.

The nouns in many European languages likeFrench, Spanish and German have gender i.e., “Masculine”, “Feminine” and “Neuter”. Like English these languageshave tons of irregular verbs and these verbs should agree with the nouns they are used with in number and gender. In contrast Japanese has only 2 irregular verbs and all the remaining verbs do not have a gender, there is no necessity for subject-verb agreement and subjects and object if it is out of context can be omitted.

When it comes to Kanji, though the characters look complex to learn as compared to other two kanas, it is actually a very convenient script as it helps express complicated expressions in a very short way, as each Kanji has a unique meaning associated with it. The current usage of Japanese is very interesting as it is a mixture of Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana with the use of Romaji and Furigana while writing to make it user friendly especially for people new to Japanese language. This also makes it easy to use with latest applications on computer and smart phones.