2015 is my year to read a ton! Not only that, but I have two resolutions to help me achieve my language goals. My reading goal this year is to read 40 books, and in July I am finally committing to retake to JLPT N1.
When I was in Kyoto studying abroad, I was placed in the highest level of Japanese classes for my first semester, and the next semester, I took the language test to be exempt from Japanese classes. I was able to take any course offered at Ritsumeikan, and I chose classes like film and literature and Japanese foreign relations. I wasn’t completely off the hook, though, as I had to take a Japanese newspaper reading class, a speech making class, and an essay writing class. It was a good way to keep myself studying Japanese to prepare for the JLPT N1 (which is the highest level, for those of you who’ve never heard of the test). However, I failed. I passed each section, but my total score was about 10 points under the mark. I was pretty frustrated.
I went back home to America to finish my last semester of college, and then I applied for JET. In December, I was a week from graduation and I had the busiest semester of my life. I didn’t leave my apartment for almost a week, so an entire weekend going to Atlanta to take the JLPT I had signed up for just wasn’t going to happen. I felt like I wasted my money by signing up and not taking it, but I had no choice. I needed a good GPA.
Fast forward to my JET interview. I applied to be a CIR, and I had to complete a Japanese reading test. I was so nervous that I messed up on easy kanji that I knew, and they asked me about my JLPT certification. I was white as a ghost. I had to tell them that I failed, but made sure to tell them that it was by a thin margin. They were not impressed. Then they asked why I hadn’t taken the N2. I knew I would pass the N2 and wanted a challenge, and I had just passed all my classes, which were all strictly in Japanese. Even after telling them this, I was told that I would be interviewed from then on as an ALT candidate.
At the time I was mortified and beat myself up. But it turned out to be a blessing because my career goals are in education, and I know some CIR positions are more about event planning or translation. I also got to be placed in Fukuoka, which I love, and I learned so much being an ALT.
This year, though, I will pass the JLPT N1. I am mainly doing it for self-satisfaction, but if later down the road I need to be able to prove my Japanese ability, it will be good to have. I already have JLPT prep books and in July I will take the exam with my head held high. (I did mean to take the exam this past December, but I ended up getting tickets to Big Bang. Can you blame me?)
My next language goal is to get my Korean skills high enough to pass the TOPIK in October. With the JLPT in July, I feel like it will give me enough time to accomplish what I want, which is to pass Level 4 of the TOPIK II. Level 4 is the higher intermediate level. A while back, I took a TOPIK I (beginner) practice test. It was about 40 questions long, so it gave me a great idea to gauge my level. The first 20 questions were extremely easy, and the last 20 became increasingly challenging, but when I finished, it told me that I would be able to pass the TOPIK I. That’s why I want to push myself this year to really be able to pass Level 4.
When I was in Korea, we went to Junkyu’s sister’s house. She has two kids who are growing out of little kid’s books, which they have in abundance. She was nice enough to let me have three children’s books in Korean so I can practice. We also went to a big bookstore in Daejeon and Junkyu bought me the book 2000 Essential Korean Words for Beginners. I got home and started learning the words on Memrise, so my goal is to blaze through them and be able to start on the Intermediate words before long.
I also found Big Bang’s book (all in Korean) thanks to two bloggers who read Korean to self study: My Seoul Dream and Korean Notebook. The book is called 세상에 너를 소리쳐! and although I won’t be able to fully read it until the end of this year at the earliest, it will give me something to aspire to read. Plus, it has tons of pictures of Big Bang.
I also found The Little Prince for Korean learners of English. I have a friend who lived in France, and back in the summer, Junkyu and I visited Petite France in Korea, which is modeled off the book and has a mini museum about the story and its creator. Since Junkyu is a learner of English and has been itching to read an actual book in English, I bought the book for both of us.
First, I will read it in English and learn the Korean grammar and vocabulary that is provided between the margins, and then I will give it to Junkyu to help him test his own English reading ability. Watching movies in Korean and English is always a fun activity together, but reading together is a whole different experience that I can’t wait to traverse.
So there you have it. My New Year’s Resolutions are as follows:
- Read 40 books
- Pass the JLPT N1
- Pass the TOPIK (Intermediate 4)
- Post to my blog at least once a week
I know I can follow through. Last year, I didn’t make a resolution until I decided to attempt the 2014 Goodreads reading challenge. This year, I am focusing myself on concrete goals and ready to tackle them all. (Of course, I still have grad school classes, so hopefully I will still have my sanity by the end of 2015.)
I have been getting so much amazing support from my readers lately, and I appreciate all of your comments and encouragements! Thank you so much and good luck to all of us as we make 2015 our best year yet!