Learning a second language can open up the world in many ways, and Japanese is a good one to learn. Some people pick them up as easy as learning a new recipe, but for others (like me), it can be a real struggle, but not impossible. Japanese can be difficult, but it is also mostly phonetic, which is a definite plus, and when you set yourself a measurable goal, you have something to work towards, which is where the JLPT Study Guide comes into play.
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In October Tuttle Publishing had a month-long challenge to help language learners get organised and started in the language of their choice. I know I really need to be more consistent, so this is where I began with the challenge – find a study space, gather your sticky notes and colourful pens…not too scary, right?! They had sent me a copy of the JLPT Study Guide: A Comprehensive Guide to the JLPT Level N5 Exam to use and review and it was time to get serious!
The JLPT Study Guide includes
- The textbook
- Loads of different flashcards (hundreds of them!) to download and print out
- Links to audio recordings
- Practice Tests
- You can also sign up separately, to a site that the author has that gives more tips about the JLPT
There are 5 parts to this book and each one has 4-9 lessons within it:
- The Basics
- Essential Grammar Points
- Vocabulary and Kanji
- Reading Comprehension
- Listening Comprehension
I remember being back in Japan in 2002 and first learning Japanese and successfully reading my first store sign. But it wasn’t an actual name or word, it was just made up. And it didn’t have meaning, which was quite disappointing for me, but it was still a good feeling to have read it correctly!
It is more difficult to learn when you’re not surrounded by Japanese. However, audios do help, and there are some included with this book, which I always find very helpful.
You won’t use this as your main resource because the lessons difficulty escalates very quickly, but it definitely is great to keep motivated and work towards your goal and know that you are on the right path. MacKnight encourages the use of additional supplements as new Japanese cannot be learned all in one place. Other items. I have used are our Japanese play money, listening to NHK World on TV and they also have a weekly newspaper in simplified Japanese, using the Japanese Picture Dictionary, the Beginning Japanese Kanji Language Practice Pad, and after a little while, I’ll also incorporate my set of Japanese in a Flash Cards I purchased over a decade ago before I settled down and had a family.
How the JPLT Study Guide Works
The units start off with a little manga dialogue to practice as you see the situation in action.
Because there are grammar points on the flashcards it means the book is not so intimidating so you can concentrate more on the actual speech and understanding in the book and the book isn’t as heavy to carry around – just take out the flashcards that you’re currently working on.
Then move on to some additional vocabulary, phrases, and grammar points. Practice while listening to the audios.
Then when you’re confident, practice the quiz at the end of the lesson and see if you can pass it. These consist of being able to read the Japanese involved (at this beginner’s level, there are few kanji – they come more into play at the next level and beyond), fill in the blanks, and listen to the audio questions and choose the correct answer for the situation.
Interested in learning Japanese? Why not check out our collection of Japanese language resources.
When you’ve worked your way through the book and are feeling ready, there are 3 JLPT practice tests you can take. The JLPT no longer discloses what the questions are on the exams, but MacKnight has been prepping students for so long that he has a good knowledge of the format the questions take and prepares you as much as possible. Because taking the JLPT will be something completely new to me, and I’ll have to travel down to the Republic of Ireland, it will be a large expense for me so I want to ensure I am as prepared as possible. I think that with this study guide alongside my other resources, when the time comes I’ll be in a good position to feel confident and pass the exam.
Of course, as a homeschooling and working parent, time is sparse, but I’ve managed to grab snippets of study time between homeschooling, waiting for a date night’s dinner and movie to begin, during train rides, and during the kids’ jujitsu lessons. And speaking of kids, it’s good for children to see their parents learning, too. And of course, they can also learn alongside you!
The Japanese Picture Dictionary (see our review here) goes with very well together with the JLPT Study Guide. There are more names for things to add in sentences as you learn them. Tech terminology is, of course, newer than original Japanese language and fun place to begin because the names for things tend to be similar to English, and that gives you a sense of confidence to know that you can save them in another language.
I am so bad at languages, they just do not stay in my head as much as I would love for them to. It was one of my most difficult subjects in school, but the one I tried the hardest at. And I’ve always said that I will persevere in Japanese, even if it does take me the next 30 years, I will continue. Using the JLPT Study Guide combined with other great Tuttle publications is taking me towards that goal.
I think I’m the type of person who needs to have a goal; something concrete. By studying with the goal of taking the JLPT, it gives me something to work towards; something that can prove to me that I know what I’m doing. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time so I am very pleased to have had the chance to begin working my way through it, and, eventually becoming more knowledgeable in Japanese.