Prep i – Revise Japanese

Some sing, some dance... I apparently collect Japanese language books

Given that I only have a few days left, I’ve been revising everything I’ve learned this year like a crazy lunatic. As always, one can’t expect cramming intensely revising year or two’s worth of work into the space of a few weeks will work very well, but it’s better than nothing.

At Leeds University, we use the Minna no nihongo textbooks and we study both parts I and II in one year. We blitzed through them like a homeless person at a buffet table so that we would be just as prepared as other students who are about to go abroad in their third year. Despite the speed, I would say that it has worked quite well. In my opinion just doing just part I in one year would be way too slow, and it would mean that we wouldn’t be able to go abroad until we were in our third year as well.

Frankly, if I had to wait any longer, I think I would implode with impatience.

I also use the Japanese For Busy People series because I was learning from them before I went to university. Personally, I think they’re much better for self study than Minna no Nihongo which only really works if you have a teacher and all of the different books that go together as a set, ie:

  • the main textbook I/II
  • the grammar book I/II
  • the kanji book I/II
  • the exercise books I/II

Of course, they are all separate so as to squeeze every penny out of an already starving population of students.

The reason why I have be at least competent in some Japanese (apart from because I’m going to Japan) is that there is a placement test at the beginning of the semester. Depending on your score, you will be put in varying levels of Japanese class for the rest of the year. There is some mobility, but only if it is really obvious that you are either too good or crap for that level. If I end up in a lower class, I will probably have to do Minna no Nihongo II all over again, which (although would be easy) would be a complete waste of time and money. Besides, all LeedsĀ students have to take the same exams and I’d rather learn more so that it is easier to pass it than be stuck on a plateau for the whole of the year.

Finally, I also need to be able to speak Japanese so as to not look like I have the intelligence of a rice cake to my host family.