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Next step: JLPT N1, Nihongo Kentei or Kanken? confused

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Hello everybody,
I am honestly confused about what is the best for my next step in Japanese language's study journey.
Briefly, this is my situation.
2014 June: I came to Japan and I began to attend Japanese language school from totally beginner.
2014 December: passed JLPT N3
2015 December: passed JLPT N2
2016 June: graduated from language school (including 6 months of Japanese business course)
2017 July: I got my actual job

So, since December 2015 I am not challenging in the JLPT N1. I think it was a matter of priority, I preferred to study business to increase the chances to get my job as soon as possible. (I always got my bills paid doing バイト).
The other reason I always procrastinated the N1 is the total lack of motivation due to the content of the exam. I bought a lot of N1 study books and the last thing I wanted was to spend my little free time with a ton of grammar which I would never use in daily life.

I use Japanese in 100% of my time. At work (architectural/construction technical vocabulary), at home with my boyfriend (J) and everywhere else because I mainly have Japanese friends.

At the moment, I don't really need a certificate, I am employed, and even if I need to change my job I don't think anybody would care about a certificate as long I have experience in the field in other J- companies and as long I can have a fluent conversation.
What I really care is level up my Japanese, and my weak point is reading. I am slow and since I graduated from school I stopped practicing kanji by handwriting. Speaking, listening is overall my strong point.
Reading this forum I was considering the possibility to take the KK, because honestly, I want at least I to master the same level of a native Japanese kid. I still don't have kids, but I would like to (in a not so far future). Of course I would talk them also in my native language (Italian), but I want to be able to follow actively their Japanese studies.
Checking my level on the official KKsite I think I could try the next June the level 5. But I still need to understand better the differences among the levels.

It makes sense for you to skip the N1 and try other kinds of tests? And if so, Nihongo Kentei or Kanken?

thank you, guys!
 
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(** Typing mistake. I got a job in July 2016).

And one more point I want to make clear is, yes I said I don't need a certificate at the moment, but I need a clear goal to get enough motivation on the daily bases.
I know I need to study more and more, and daily. But I make excuses for my self (tired from work, from commuting, from preparing meals, house chores...bla bla). So what I need is to push my self with something rewarding not just after passing the exam but for something I know it would be rewarding in my daily life.
Like the difference to go on diet to lose weight for the wedding and dieting to get healthy.
 

Mike Cash

骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう
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I have made threads discussing both the NK and KK. Did you happen to read those?

If you are weak (slow) reading, then you may be overwhelmed by the NK. As it is really made with native speakers in mind, the time limit is also based on the reading speed of native speakers at the level being tested. For foreign speakers, the problem is that if you take a test which is appropriate to your Japanese language knowledge you may not finish the test and if you take a test you can finish it really was probably below the level appropriate to your knowledge.

By way of illustration, when I took N1 I had time to actually completely read all of the text in the reading section twice and I got a perfect score on the reading section. For a gaijin, I am a fast reader. Around the same time, I also took the NK4 (junior high school graduate level) which was probably easier than N1 in terms of content....but I had to race like crazy and had to just guess at the last question because the clock ran out. Many of the Japanese junior high school kids in the room finished at least ten minutes before I did.

I took four of the KK tests after doing N1. I did KK5 and KK4 a couple of months afterward in February, and then KK2.5 and KK2 in June. If you want to take the KK, then you need to prepare specifically for the KK. While skills learned preparing for the KK will help your Japanese skills, Japanese skills won't help you with the KK.

By the way, there is really no correlation between JLPT, NK, and KK so there is no way of guessing what level you should try for on one based on what you have done on any of the others. I did no preparation whatsoever for N1, but I had to study to get ready for KK5 and ended up doing 490 hours of KK specific study through passing KK2.
 
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Thank you very much Mike for your accurate reply.
Yes, I think I read all your previous discussions about KK, NK and JLPT. And it's actually thanks to those that I started to rethink about my next studying strategy.
It's impressive you were able to read twice the N1 texts, because what I heard that reading time is always very strict.
If I am not wrong, you said you were used to reading a lot of Japanese stuff.
The reason why now I am more oriented on KK is that I think that a more solid base of kanji would be crucial to get better and faster in reading. So, as you said, for the moment the NK would be beyond my reading speed level.
I am aware that for pass KK exam I need a specific study. Because, just looking at the past exam published on web, it's clear it would never be enough what I studied for the jlpt. And I honestly I even forgot how to handwrite many kanji since I am not in the school.
What is not still clear in my mind, is the necessity to take now the N1. I really feel demotivated.
 

Mike Cash

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If you have N2 and you talk trash about the JLPT, then people will think you're just bitter because you can't pass N1. If you pass N1, then you can trash talk the JLPT to your heart's content. There is no other benefit to having passed in my case.

I would suggest that you consider taking the NK, if it easily fits into your schedule. It isn't very expensive and it will at least be an interesting experience. The test is relatively new and isn't even widely known among Japanese people, much less so among foreigners. You would be one of the very few foreigners who have taken it. You can take multiple levels on the same day, so it is possible to take a level you have confidence in plus a higher level as a challenge.

There are many very good KK study materials available. With good materials and diligent study there is no reason you shouldn't be able to take KK4 or KK3 in June. The only real hard part is working on the 四字熟語, which are an element of the Japanese language we foreign learners aren't typically exposed to in our normal Japanese language studies. From KK4 upwards it becomes absolutely essential to learn them. Again, with the KK you can take multiple levels on the same day. As you're in the Tokyo area you may even take advantage of the ability to take the tests by computer at designated places on an individual basis and not on the regular mass testing days.
 
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たくさんアドバイスをくれて、ありがとう!とても参考になったと思います。
恐らく、マイケルさんが言った通り、N1を合格するまでJLPTのことを悪く言えないだろうね。
だが、言えるのは0からスタートした自分が、6か月でN3を合格し、1年半間でN2を合格した経験があります。たしかに、N1
を持っていないけど、普通に会話が上手くできないN1合格した人が周りに大勢いますよ。
世の中は人がそれぞれだし、周りの人に何も言われたくないためをN1を受けるんだったら、まあ受けないをがいいんじゃないかと思いますけどね。さすがに、自分に会うやり方を自分で探した方が後で後悔や悔しさもなく、失敗したとしても自分自身を攻めればいい。
マイケルさんのお話を読んで、KKを受けたくなってきました。ちょうど昨日本屋さんに行って、いくつの5-6級用の本を買っちゃった。まあとりあえず、5級を受けようかなと思っている。基礎漢字をまた復習しても無駄にならいからです。
漢検CBT(Computer Based Testing)ができるなんて、ぜんぜん知らなかったんですよ、ありがとう!毎日(休日・祝日含め)受けられるって素晴らしいです。しかも、時間も選べます。絶対それで申し込むつもりです。
日本語検定も面白そうです。でも、何となく、KKをやってから受けようかな。漢字力が増えたら、読解力もそれなりにあがるはずなので、戦略としてはまず、KKに優先した方いいんじゃないかと思います。

頭の整理できた気がします。あ~すっきりしました。前に進めます!:emoji_relieved: ありがとうございます!
ーーーーーーーー
ところで、StickyStudyをダウンロードしました。すごいアプリです!今までMidoriだけを使ってたけど、SSも機能的にすごく便利そうなアプリです。:emoji_smiley:

では、また何か進展でもあれば、またご報告します。
 

Mike Cash

骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう
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I'm happy that I was able to help.

If you send me your e-mail address by private message I will send you the StickyStudy decks I made for KK study. It should save you a lot of time.
 
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