The Road to JLPT 4

In Australia, JLPT applications opened up a few days ago and I want to get in to sit the JLPT 4 at the end of the year. I know what your thinking “It’s only the JLPT 4, it’s the easiest one! Do the JLPT 3!” by the end it sort of came down to people were asking me “Are you chicken”?

No Offence....

No Offence....

But I really want get my absolute basics down in the JLPT and do well, i mean really well. I’m aiming for a %90 or more so I better get studying I mean I’ve only got…. 127 days, 1 hour, 55 minutes and 47 seconds (approximately). If you’re not reading this post the exact second I wrote the time than you can see it here. So let’s break it down to each part of the JLPT I have to do and some ideas of how to get around it.

Writing-Vocabulary (25 Minutes)

This would be one of my weaker areas all due to that little certainty in studying Japanese, Kanji. As people might know, reading Kanji is much easier than writing it because when you look at Kanji it triggers a memory of the English word and than you understand it, when writing Kanji, it’s kind of the opposite scenario you have to understand the English to trigger a memory of the Kanji, which is a lot more difficult. apparently I have to know 100 Kanji, which includes most of the simple things, count to 10, days of the week, Kanji for simple verbs and natural elements. I figure between my real life flashcards I’ve ordered (apparently I’ll receive them in 18-32 days), the awesome website Read The Kanji and Yamasa’s Online Kanji Dictionary I’m pretty much set.

Listening (25 Minutes)

Listening in Japanese, it’s my Kryptonite, my Achilles Heel, My need to find three example’s to get a point across. Basically it’s hard and I need to be able to do it. Even though it will probably be really basic sentences, my mind still can’t get around the whole Subject-Object-Verb structure while listening and I really need to have that mindset by the time is sit the test. Some possible ways of tackling this major issue is downloading Hours of Japanese Children Stories as Audio Books. This is actually something I need your help with, so please comment down the bottom with music, anime, more audio books even poems, basically anything that has an audio format that i can listen to and help me on my Road to JLPT 4.

Still not cute enough for me...

I still don't think it's cute enough, quick more love hearts!

Reading-Grammar (50 Minutes)

If you pay attention to detail then you might noticed that the “Reading-Grammar” heading is underlined, that’s because it’s underlined in JLPT Guidelines booklet, Why? Because this is worth double the points than Writing and Listening so it’s the most important part of the test. This might seem odd to you, but I’m sort of confident about this part of the test.

And while inside the lion's mouth! will someone from the audience please come and punch Sheila in the stomach!

He's actually doing the JLPT right now...

This doesn’t mean I’m not going worry about reading and grammar in Japanese, but I’m just saying I feel it’s a bit easier than other area’s. I have my Tae Kim’s Guide to Japanese Grammar Tae Kim’s Japanese Guide to Japanese Grammar and if you have any Japanese reading materials you feel I must read than absolutely comment with a link.



Filed under Language, Resources

30 responses to “The Road to JLPT 4

  1. Nice study plans! I’ll try to follow something like this from now too, because i’ll try 3kyuu… and I need to learn a looot of kanji too ._.

    Well, good luck for us!! Haha!

  2. If you like Harry Potter, here’s the first audio book

    To which I’m seeding *coughs*

    There’s some great Japanese people who post vlogs up regularly on youtube. One my favorites is jetDAISUKE he does some easy food reviews at natural speed that I highly recommend.

    I highly recommend this song and the band:

    Don’t feel intimidated by the pace, after five or six times you can catch on to the speed of the catchy song….and practice that speed reading! xD

    I hear Bump of Chicken is good OH and I’ve got to plug my precious Maximum The Hormone: They are so kickass. If you like MTH try Animetal although they sound kind of ’80s like, some of their songs are treasures!

    OK I just realized the above video has some fuzzy noncopy-able list of lyrics so I got the song:


    願って拝んでても いつしか
    そうさ僕ら人類が 神様に
    気付いたらなってたの 何様なのさ


    偶然の一致か 運命の合致
    はたまた 自分勝手スケッチ
    あっち こっちそっちってどっち

    来世があったって 仮に無くたって
    生まれ変わったって 変わらなくたって
    人はいつだって 全て好き勝手
    上に立ったって なおもてっぺんが


    増やして出して 出したら増やして
    なして どうしてって何でかって

    人類なんてそりゃ そうなんだって

    でも待って じゃあ現世はどうすんだい
    さぁ無茶しよう そんで苦茶しよう
    さぁ有耶しよう そんで無耶しよう

    だからなんだって ダメになったって
    なぜになんだって ポイしちゃっといて
    だがしかしbut けれけれどyet
    何を言ったって 何をやったって

    ならば どうすればいい?
    いけないならば どこに

    生まれ変わったって 変わらなくたって
    天国行ったって 地獄だったって
    上じゃなくたって 下じゃなくたって

    Second to last: I recommend KeyHoleTV which is a program that streams Japanese TV, the only program that I’ve found so far that has the most channels~

    Finally: Go get a free account at nicodouga ( there’s some interesting things on there considering its basically the Japanese version of Youtube. What I find interesting is the playthroughs of games that Japanese people have posted and naturally, music.

    JLPT4がんばってね \ ^。^ /

    PS. Copying this and sticking it on my blog lol! Sorry for the longness, hope its useful!

  3. Felipe


  4. Personally I’ll try to work hard, skip JLPT 4 and do JLPT 3 this December. I’ve also heard that it’s possible to do both but I’m not too sure whether I’m willing to pay twice just to be sure :/

    BTW, I’ll send you a NihongoUp serial in a few hours… I hope that it’ll help you with your kanji!

    • headingforjapan

      Haha, thanks. But I’ve only been studying for about 7 months, and I only started this year in year 11 at school so I havn’t learnt the basics like other people have.

  5. Jyemenai

    Amazing!! I plan on (eventually) being like you and talking JLPT4 (and probably all 4, just to reassure myself).

    For the writing, the only thing I can really suggest is Heisig’s “Remembering the Kanji”. Granted, it works better for “see the kanji, know the meaning”, if studied the right way, it could be used for “this is the meaning, know the kanji”. (If I stop procrastinating, this is how I’m going to try to overcome that problem)

    Listening is a little easier for me to recommend. I say watch and listen to anything you’re interested in. If you happen to like Bleach, watch it subbed and make sure you’re actually LISTENING to what they’re saying while reading the subtitles. I’ve learned a few new phrases/words from watching various shows and listening to Japanese music. What also might help is doing the KeyHole TV thing suggested above. Also, depending on who provides your TV service, try to get an international Japanese channel. Mine has some “children” shows that I like to watch (and more adult ones); the news, children shows, musical shows, and a few others even have “captions” (for some of the spoken parts, like a variety show). Uh, what else? I think that’s all I got for listening.

    For reading, you can probably combine some of what I just wrote, using some of the captions they show to go over what you believe you heard and look at how the sentences are formed. I really like Japanese the Manga Way. I feel like it really gives good lessons on the usage of Japanese, with actual Japanese sentences (from manga). And you probably know about Rikai-Chan, the Firefox add-on which displays the meaning and pronunciations of the kanji you’re hovering over.

    I don’t really know what else to suggest at this moment, but if I think of anything, I’ll be sure to let you know.

    • headingforjapan

      Thanks for all the great links! I’ve tried Heisig’s “Remembering The Kanji” before but I procrastinated so much. I might give it another try since so many people find it useful.

      • Joe

        Absolutely do Remembering the Kanji. It is the fastest way to get all the necessary (常用漢字) kanji under your belt. I finished it over the course of a year, but that was going a week here or there without studying new kanji. I still kept up with my reviews on (if you start RTK again, use this site). Once you finish RTK, reading and remembering how to read anything becomes 200% easier. I just don’t see how you could learn how to read in a short period of time without RTK.

  6. Nostrum

    For listening practice you might try watching j-dramas and reading the transcripts.

    transcripts can be found at

  7. I am planning to take the JLPT 4 too. I have run across those people that tell me not to take it that it is worthless unless you have JLPT 1 or that it doesn’t gauge skill.

    However, it sounds like you are kind of the same as me. You want to take it more as a skill gauge and don’t want to just settle for what ever grade you get. You actually want to pass it with flying colors too.

    I try to explain that concept to people and I get a funny look. My goal is to take it and not take it as a “how can i pass it” but how much langauge knowledge do I really have. Kind of a without “studying” for the test how well can I sit down and do kind of thing.

    I will study for it sure, but only so much as to know the general idea of what is on the test. I’ll be taking it this December too so hopefully around next February or march we will both be posting pictures of our JLPT 4 certificate.

    As for content for learning. I’d recommend finding out the requirements and study that kind of stuff. As for listening just watch a lot of anime 😉 Actually I recommend watching Sazae-San on youtube. It is untranslated and has all age group/levels of japanese in it. My Japanese teacher really recommends it and it is kind of fun.

    Anyway good luck.

    • headingforjapan

      Thanks for the great tips and hopefully and I also hope we both are posting our certificates early next year. Good luck!

  8. Wish I could take the JLPT 4 or anything like it. But there’s nowhere near me to take it and I’m not up to flying anywhere to take it just yet.
    But you asked for audio. A lot of what people seems to be suggested seems pretty intense – the full Harry Potter book (I just started attempting to read it), real TV (I can catch pieces of things, but I miss everything important), even some of the short stories seem intimidating.
    I found a website a month ago that has children’s fairy tales. Not all of them have audio, but if it does have audio it’s usually maybe 3 to 5 minutes long. Just short little clips.
    I also found a really old anime on youtube. It’s called 21エモン, it’s made by the same author as ドラえもん, but takes place in the future – almost like a Japanese Jetsons. I’m not sure if it’s any simpler than most of the modern animes. But if you’re interested, there’s a playlist of most of the episodes:

  9. Your motivation is aspiring, but I really would heed the advice of skipping JLPT 4. You can pass that after about 10 hours of serious study, and using it as a serious test of your ability isn’t going to work as I suspect you’ll be getting 95%+ ~ If you really want to know how good your japanese is coming along, go straight for level 3, nevermind whether you pass it or not it’ll be a better indication.

    PS: Regarding what you said about only 1kyu being “worth anything” – not true. Japanese companies will be very appreciative of any Japanese language ability you have, and the more specialist your job skills are, the less Japanese is required. For instance, most IT jobs here will ask foreign employees for a minimum JLPT 2 (commonly referred to as business level).

    Anyway, whatever you decide in the end, good luck~!

    • headingforjapan

      Ahaha, thanks for your confidence in me, but my application has already been mailed and just because I’m going to do the JLPT 4 doesn’t mean I won’t be challenging myself, I’m still learning hard Kanji and grammar that’s JLPT 3 worthy, I’m still young and by next year I’ll be doing the JLPT 3 really well.

  10. I know that I’m in the minority, but I think that RTK is useless, especially if you are preparing for the JLPT. The best way to learn kanji is to do it in context. Don’t learn the individual readings, don’t learn any English keywords (as with romaji, I would suggest to use as little English as possible during your studies) — learn the compounds cause that’s the place where you’ll find kanji most of the time!

    When you are reading in any language, you read the whole words, not the individual parts of it (you can scramble all the letter or cut them in half and you’ll still be able to read it without problems) and this is what you should learn if you want to be able to read efficiently cause fast reading is the whole point of kanji, and the only real reason it can’t be removed from the language.

    • headingforjapan

      great points, thanks for being honest about your view of RTK.

    • Joe

      It is important to learn the kanji in context in order to read. But without a previous grounding in kanji, either through several years seeing them every day (like Japanese children) or doing RTK, tackling the reading of Japanese will be a very time-consuming process. The biggest advantage that RTK gives you is that it makes the kanji familiar, intimately familiar, so that when you look at them and write them, they don’t just come off as a wall of similar looking squiggles. For example, there are about 50 常用漢字 (general-use kanji) that use the radical 糸, the most of any one radical. How would one quickly differentiate between 絵, 給, 絡 and 結, for example?

      What RTK does is give you a deep mental grounding in the kanji, in image and meaning, which when coupled with reading practice in context makes it virtually impossible to forget how to read and write. I finished RTK in about a year, but most people only take 6 months or less. Since finishing, I’ve been doing sentence mining with Anki. According to the kanji stats I have 1273 unique kanji in my deck and an overall retention rate of 84%. That basically means I can read over half the 常用漢字 effortlessly now in a span of about 3 months. I really don’t think that is possible with rote memorization.

      • I love the approach where you learn the different parts of the kanji. That’s evidently very helpful. But that doesn’t change anything on the fact that I don’t approve of RTK as I find the rest of it – learning with English keywords, no constant repetition in context etc. simply incorrect.

        One should definitely try to learn by packs of similar kanjis and divide these into different parts but IMHO one should forget about English keywords and better associate these kanjis with different compounds.

  11. hoolan

    I highly recommend just mass downloading as much Japanese media as possible. Start with things you might like such as variety shows, download as many as you can find watch them and only keep the ones that you liked. Never watch or listen to something just for the sake of listening because you will install bad habits and resist listening to Japanese.

    You really need to get as much as possible and I mean fill your harddrive with the stuff, the more you have the more you will listen and avoid English.

    Constantly delete boring material and download fresh new stuff.

  12. Bill

    Someone above mentioned the Japanese audio book of Harry Potter. Why do that when you could listen to authentic Japanese literary audio books. It helps me study Japanese a lot. I mainly get from here:

    • codePhantom

      I think its because you already know the gist of whats going on, making listening easier and maybe more interesting.

  13. I think for me, the most important thing about taking a test is that I feel comfortable with it in myself. Although there could be good reason for skipping JLPT4 and going straight onto 3, if you don’t feel comfortable doing it, then just stick with 4. There’d be nothing worse than not doing so well at 3 and your confidence being totally shot to pieces. Although 4 is not particularly relevant, in my opinion, if you feel happier taking it, then I’d go with your instinct.

    Listening can be daunting at first, and I don’t think it’s a big surprise that you feel it to be your least improved discipline. If that’s the case, I’d reccommend listening to translations of English texts first, so that you don’t have to fight against context and content to begin with. Once you feel more confident, move onto straight Japanese texts. Although children’s programmes and the like seem a good starting point, be cautious as there is much ‘child speak’ used in these programmes, where over familiar words are used sometimes for characters, and verbs can be altered sometimes as well.

    If you want to use RTK as a learning tool for kanji, then I agree with others when they say that kanji should be learnt in context. What I don’t agree with though is the idea that is can’t be used in this manner as there is an English translation for each sentence that the kanji features in. In the settings panel, turn all English translations off, and you can then learn with just the kanji and the Japanese sentence in which it featurs showing, thus learning in context. This is a great tool, and along with Nihongoup, they make a great deal of sense when learning kanji and kana.

    Finally, you raise the point about needing to know 100 kanji for 4. That’s true, but I’d advise slightly over compensating for this and learning perhaps 110 – 120 kanji, taking the top slice from 3. That way, if there are any that crop up that are not from 4 (never as a question, but sometimes in the instructions etc.) then at least you are prepared and don’t get into a frenzy when you realise you don’t quite understand something.

    I’m going for 2 this year, so it looks like we’ll be in the same boat come December, though enrolment hasn’t opened in the UK yet..

    • headingforjapan

      Haha, honestly, my confidence is crippled by my horrible timeline of learning both basic and intermiediate Japanese. Everyone would normally start of with the basic and move up to intermediate, I had to start of with intermediate and right now I’m trying to move my way backwards. Even though I’m going to sit the JLPT 4 I’m still aiming to be at a higher level by the time I sit it, basically I’m always going to try and be over prepared. Good luck with the JLPT 2 and I also hope we’re in the same (sinking) boat by December.

  14. RMK

    The level of the JLPT4 is really low, no need to stress. Very few kanji, simple grammar, etc. A couple of hours of studying should do the trick.

    Actually I don’t really understand why people would spend money on the level 4, since japanese companies/universities don’t really give a damn before level 2…

    • headingforjapan

      Thanks for the uplifting comment! haha, nah it’s ok its. I’m only is school so I’m not doing the JLPT for job oppurtunities I’m doing it as my own personal goal, hopefully by the time I’m job searching I’ll be at or even past the JLPT 2 mark.

    • Joe

      Like many have stated before, the JLPT can serve as a kind of measuring stick/standard for your Japanese ability. I took level 3 last year after about 6 months of study and passed fairly easily, it was a huge confidence boost. Next time (probably next year) I’m definitely going all the way for level 1.

  15. Good luck to you, although luck doesn’t really have much to do it, it’s all about hard work!

    Even those who don’t care about Japanese culture should be inspired by your discipline!

  16. Great to see you so motivated!

    Best way to learn is through a variety of media. Videos, books, songs etc. You’ll slowly pick up kanji,grammar vocab and you’ll enjoy it at the same time.

    Best of luck for the exam. I’m sure you’ll pass it easy.

  17. For listening, I say follow along with audio lessons. You can subscribe to their free feed in iTunes and download new lessons daily. If you have an ipod you can see the transcripts of the dialogs on the ipod screen, very useful if you commute to work or for long trips.


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