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Forums - What JLPT level is good for life in Japan?

Top > 日本語を勉強しましょう / Let's study Japanese! > Exams Talk: JLPT, Kanji Kentei



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Level: 375

As a quick preface, I wish to move to Japan in a decade or so. I have no set timeframe and I would like to complete the JLPT N1 sometime within a decade, but I am curious if you can plausibly work and get by with, say, a N3 level of understanding while studying for the more advanced levels. I figure language acquisition can definitely quicken when you're fully immersed in the language while living in Japan.

As a side note, if you have completed the JLPT N1 test, which textbooks (if any) did you consult?

0
8 months ago
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It depends on the person and their way of life. Many expats live in Japan for years and even decades without ever developing N5 level skills, and don’t feel like they ever need them. Others arrive having already passed the N1 test, but still find themselves unable to navigate society.

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8 months ago
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Level: 375

It depends on the person and their way of life. Many expats live in Japan for years and even decades without ever developing N5 level skills, and don’t feel like they ever need them. Others arrive having already passed the N1 test, but still find themselves unable to navigate society.


I have seen rumors that the N1 does not prepare you for casual Japanese speech, is this true? Supposedly, a lot of the grammar used in the N1 test is quite formal, so people are caught off guard when they hear casual conversations in Japanese TV shows, movies, etc. and they hear an abundance of informal words.

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8 months ago
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I think I probably know less about what’s on the test than you.

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8 months ago
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Level: 375

I think I probably know less about what’s on the test than you.


I wouldn't really say so, since I'm just picking up random info I see online. Hopefully I can find some extra input on this topic, since I don't exactly trust the random folks I see on semi-related language learning threads elsewhere. Regardless, thank you for the advice.

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8 months ago
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マイコー
Level: 272

This is a topic with a huge number of answers, but N3 is not going to get you anywhere job wise unless your job is focused around you speaking English (and therefore, you don't need a lot of Japanese). The JLPT is unfortunately a "pretty bad, but it's the only real test we've got" situation.

As for casual/formal, there's a good amount of casual covered way before N1 - specifically in the N4/N3 area. Once you hit N2, though, you're getting into rarer and rarer grammatical elements.

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8 months ago
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Level: 375

This is a topic with a huge number of answers, but N3 is not going to get you anywhere job wise unless your job is focused around you speaking English (and therefore, you don't need a lot of Japanese). The JLPT is unfortunately a "pretty bad, but it's the only real test we've got" situation.

As for casual/formal, there's a good amount of casual covered way before N1 - specifically in the N4/N3 area. Once you hit N2, though, you're getting into rarer and rarer grammatical elements.


Yeah, I've definitely gotten the impression that the JLPT is far from perfect. I enjoy a lot of Japanese media and I hope it can provide a bit of insight into the aspects of the language that the tests do not present.

Thank you for the input on the JLPT levels that are good for work in Japan, knowing which JLPT level I should be looking into definitely helps me determine what I should study in the future. I have seen very mixed responses on how complex the N1 tests are, ranging from "it's very difficult" to "it was easy"... Granted I have no idea if some individuals were studying for decades before taking the test.

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8 months ago
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カイリネ
Level: 371

I would advise you to be very strict about your vision. Your English and Japanese (studies and qualifications) should be narrowed to a specific job title, place (even region) and time (IT for example is very useful in 21st century) or do you have a 'dream' job?

Unfortunately like Mike says - English comes first, your experience in your own country is more important, get those things right but if you are like me - there is no need in N1-2! I want to go to Japan to try my own luck by just talking to people and enjoying this culture while I'm there.

You can always prepare yourself beforehand but then, you will face reality which can be too harsh for you to grasp within this competition or, you will find out how easy it can be by finding your own way and just searching for opportunities within your reach.

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8 months ago
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Level: 375

I would advise you to be very strict about your vision. Your English and Japanese (studies and qualifications) should be narrowed to a specific job title, place (even region) and time (IT for example is very useful in 21st century) or do you have a 'dream' job?

Unfortunately like Mike says - English comes first, your experience in your own country is more important, get those things right but if you are like me - there is no need in N1-2! I want to go to Japan to try my own luck by just talking to people and enjoying this culture while I'm there.

You can always prepare yourself beforehand but then, you will face reality which can be too harsh for you to grasp within this competition or, you will find out how easy it can be by finding your own way and just searching for opportunities within your reach.


I haven't quite decided on what career to choose yet, but I may aim for N1 just to be extra certain I can grasp some of the complex aspects of the language.

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8 months ago
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cmertb
Level: 367

Since the question is about life in Japan in general, I regret to inform you that no level of JLPT is good enough for it. The problem with JLPT is that it almost exclusively concentrates on your reading and listening skills. Even when they try to test other aspects (vocab/grammar), in the end it's just reading. It is sure a big help to be able to read various things in Japanese, but even at N1 level what you will encounter in real life will usually be more complex than what you see on the test -- both for reading and for listening. Since conversation and writing skills are not tested, it is entirely possible to pass JLPT N1 and still not be able to speak to any usable extent. Also, the grading of JLPT is far too lenient. There is a huge difference in skill level between someone who can get 105 on N1 and someone who can get 180, even though either would technically pass.

So, the most important skill is speaking, and JLPT will not prepare you for it. Don't use JLPT as a benchmark for how ready you are for life in Japan. I wish I could suggest a different benchmark, but I don't know of any.

1
3 months ago
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Level: 375

Since the question is about life in Japan in general, I regret to inform you that no level of JLPT is good enough for it. The problem with JLPT is that it almost exclusively concentrates on your reading and listening skills. Even when they try to test other aspects (vocab/grammar), in the end it's just reading. It is sure a big help to be able to read various things in Japanese, but even at N1 level what you will encounter in real life will usually be more complex than what you see on the test -- both for reading and for listening. Since conversation and writing skills are not tested, it is entirely possible to pass JLPT N1 and still not be able to speak to any usable extent. Also, the grading of JLPT is far too lenient. There is a huge difference in skill level between someone who can get 105 on N1 and someone who can get 180, even though either would technically pass.

So, the most important skill is speaking, and JLPT will not prepare you for it. Don't use JLPT as a benchmark for how ready you are for life in Japan. I wish I could suggest a different benchmark, but I don't know of any.


Thank you for such a lengthy answer on an old comment of mine. Since I made this post, I have definitely learned about the shortcomings of the JLPT exam content. There seems to be an inadequate amount of informal and conversational vocabulary in the exams, which makes sense from an educational standpoint. (It wouldn't be "professional" for us to learn slang terms, but it would definitely make video game / manga translations a lot easier...) I think my current goal is to attain a decent level of reading fluency (somewhere in the N3 range, but with a lot of conversational non-JLPT vocab) before branching out into text-based conversations, with verbal conversations coming in much further down the line.

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3 months ago
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