Road to JLPT N5 (Pt. 1)

In one of my previous entries, I wrote that I decided to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test or JLPT this year.

Yesterday, I finished learning all the words I need to know for the test. Out of the 800 words I needed to know, there were 250 words that I didn’t know or didn’t know how to use.

JLPT N5 (1)

Even though it’s not too many words, I don’t like cramming and I don’t like rote memorization; so I gave myself a lot of time to remember the words before the exam.

I grouped the words based on their first hiragana characters (あ, い, う, etc.) and learned one group at a time. My “learning time” was the 15 or 20-minute weekly or biweekly train rides I take to Kyoto City.

Thirty minutes to an hour a week is not a lot of time, but because I only studied twice a week, it took me many months to finally get to the end of the list.

Still, I’m confident that I can remember all the words I’ve learned. This is how I learned them:

First, I think of a word I can associate to the new word. For example:
My mother’s hometown is called “Uma”.
To be born in Japanese is うまれます.

Second, I make connection between the word I know and the new Japanese word:
Place where mom was born = Uma = うま = うまれます

My students said my way of remembering words takes too much time and involves too much thinking, but I disagree. I think making associations is faster than repeating the same word again and again and again (it’s also more fun).

It does involve a lot of thinking (and some creativity), but I think the connections I create will help me remember words better in the future. Thus, I will spend less time trying to remember them in the future.

That’s what I think, at least. I don’t know yet if it will actually be the case, but I will find out next month during the test.