JLPT New York – The Japanese Language Proficiency Test Details

2012 June 22
by learnjapanesehl

It’s great that you’re interested in taking the JLPT exam. For first timers of taking the JLPT and you’re curious as to which level might fit you best, please visit the attached link for JLPT placement. For students that have more or less decided on which level and want to know more details about taking the Japanese Language Proficiency Test in New York, then look no further!

STUDY ADVICE –

1. If you’re serious about taking the JLPT and you’re reading this article, start studying now.

2 . Please note the Japanese Language Proficiency Test has changed in the past couple years. Now each level is referred to as N2, or N3. So when looking to purchase a good textbook (which is highly recommended), please choose an up-to-date version and make sure it has an “N label” for the level.

3. The textbooks are helpful, but be prepared (especially in higher N1 and N2 levels) to have a test that is more difficult than the textbooks. Take the level of the textbooks you’re studying with and bring it up a notch or two, that is how difficult the actual test is.

4. If you can, naturally we’d recommend either group or private lessons for JLPT study. Group is helpful because you have potential study buddies to learn from both in and outside class. Also when you get a professional teacher involved, they’ll be able to set goals for you and hold you to it.

SIGNING UP TO THE TEST – WHEN AND HOW

The application for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test becomes available towards the middle or end of August. The application period is only one month, the month of September. If you can, postmark your application the first of the month of September. Yes, we said postmark. Last year the Japan Foundation of Los Angeles (they run the JLPT) required all applicants to mail applications, online was not accepted.

OFFICIAL TEST DATE – Sunday December 2, 2012

LOCATION – Lehman College in New York

250 Bedford Park Boulevard West – Bronx, NY 10468

Phone: 718-960-8000

Only 500 Seats Maximum

SUMMARY OF ADVICE ON THE TEST

New York City is America’s most populous city, with a very diverse background of inhabitants. Naturally the demand for the Japanese Language is high. The test center itself only has a maximum of 500 students accepted. The applications for the JLPT start getting accepted by September 1st, and New York is the first center to sell out every year, usually by the third week of September. Submit your applications asap.

The JLPT is a rigorous and challenging test. Take a class or at least consult with someone who has taken the test previously before studying. The JLPT N1 is used to place foreign students into universities in Japan, and the Japanese take the test and its administration very seriously.

This article is limited in scope but please don’t hesitate to ask questions or comments about the JLPT in New York. Good luck with your studies!

Japanese Courses in New York this Summer

2012 May 8
by learnjapanesehl

Hi New Yorkers! It’s almost time for another sweltering famous New York summer, and what better time to find an excuse to go inside in air conditioning and learn Japanese?

If you’re interested in learning Japanese, you probably have your reasons. Maybe you’re looking to travel to Japan either this summer or sometime in the near future. Maybe there’s a part of Japanese culture you like, whether it’s anime or manga or maybe even shodo. Maybe you have a business reason to learn Japanese.

Whatever your reasons are, please think about it while you’re considering which course to take this summer. There are numerous courses being offered out there in New York from a variety of institutions, but you want to make sure that both your interests and goals are being met when deciding on a course.

First of all, we would recommend researching your institution of learning. The atmosphere or friendliness of the person on the other line should all play into whether you’d like to take lessons there or not. Is this a place I want to spend the next 6 to 8 weeks to 1 to 5 years learning at? Always ask that question with every interaction.

Next, is your reason for learning language. If it’s a business reason, you might want to consider taking private lessons. Yes private lessons are more expensive, but they are also more bang for your buck. You’ll get personal attention for a Japanese teacher who will fix all the little nuances you’re getting wrong in the language, and they’ll do it right away, in the comfort of your own time. They’ll also teach to your strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly though, private lessons are customized, so you can make the right impression when going into that Japanese trading company or hedge fund.

However, if you fall into the casual cultural interest category for learning Japanese, it really depends your learning style. If you feel that you’ll get the most from private lessons (for example you’re very self driven, or don’t like group learning environments) then please consider the private lessons. Also learning long term is usually more effective with private lessons, although that’s not to say students don’t stay in group classes for a long time if they do find the right learning environment.

Which brings us to our last category, group classes. Group classes are great for a variety of reasons, namely you’re not alone in your language learning process. You get to learn with other students, see how they learn and what tools they’ve uncovered outside of class, but you also get potential study buddies and friends who can encourage and challenge you to learn.

For group classes, also consider the age. For example, Hills Learning has a Japanese through Manga Class for highschoolers looking to learn Japanese. So if you’re a teenager and you learn Japanese Manga or Anime, this is really a win-win class and opportunity. Language House and other schools in NYC also offer high school courses.

If you’re an adult, please consider the class size and quality of the curriculum before choosing. Always ask the schools what’s the maximum amount of students they allow into their classes, if it’s 15 to 20 please keep in mind you won’t get the attention as a 4 to 8 person class provides.

Also, and why we’re writing this for the upcoming summer, is that summer classes (for those of us that aren’t working) means more time to learn. Inquire about intensive courses at the institutions you’re looking into, most will either have a group intensive course or possibly discounts if you decide to take private courses for Japanese intensively.

Ultimately, Japanese is a great language to learn and there are many options in New York. Please consider the atmosphere and culture of the institution, class size, course goals,  and your goals. You’ll then come up with the best place for you to learn Japanese in New York! Please feel free to ask any questions onto this post, and happy learning!

Japanese Teaching Position Available – NYC – New York

2011 October 20
by learnjapanesehl

Hills Learning, a language school in New York City, is looking for a Japanese teacher to join their team. We’re looking for native speakers of their languages, with a passion to share their culture and a record of success to teach Japanese to all ages.

Some specifics on the Japanese teaching job are:

Requirements:
– at least 3 years of teaching experience
– proven track record of success with classes and students
– a passion to share your culture and language with fellow new yorkers
– native speaker of Japanese preferred

Details:
– weekly update form
– ability to create own materials
– work with director to design lesson plans
– hours differ per student and job

For applying please visit our website: http://www.hillslearning.com/opportunities/

Please note, if you’re interested in teaching Japanese to a New York audience but might not meet these requirements there are also internships available. Please visit our website for further information on this job opening.

JLPT 2011 New York – How to sign up and not miss it

2011 July 26
by learnjapanesehl

Dear New York Japanese Learners!

The season is approaching for the JLPT or Japanese Language Proficiency Test. The test will be held on December 4th of this year, at Lehman College. As noted below, the test will be 500 people maximum, and we do mean maximum. Usually the test sells about halfway through September in New York City, and New York is always the first center to sell out and fill up. Your other options if you miss New York are Boston or DC, we recommend all potential test takers to sign up early.

Another very important part of signing up for the JLPT this year is there are NO ONLINE APPLICATIONS. MAIL ONLY. Why is this significant? Well, last year it was quite easy to secure a seat, you just had to go online, fill out the appropriate information and hit “submit.” Now, you’ll have to plan ahead, making sure all your documentation is in order, and plan to have it shipped to LA with enough time to allow for any mistakes, etc. to be rectified.

In other words, plan ahead. Don’t wait until mid-September to fill out your application form for the JLPT. New York City is the most popular and fastest selling out location for the JLPT in the U.S., so use your time wisely. The paper application form will become available on the Japan Foundation LA website in mid-August, http://www.jflalc.org/jlpt_index.html, so be on the lookout for the application and fill it out quickly and accurately.

Oh yes, and while you’re at it, start studying now. If you haven’t started studying for the JLPT and haven’t taken the test before, you’ll need to take at least one or two practice tests, and review all grammar, vocabulary, and listening and reading exercises that will be on your exam. Good luck with your studies, in our other article on this website we discuss how to best study for the Japanese Proficiency test. Please take a look!

JLPT Test – Which Level is Right for You?

2011 July 7
by learnjapanesehl

Any serious learner of Japanese has considered taking the JLPT, or the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. The test can be taken all over the world, of course the country with the most test centers and frequency of administration is Japan, but in America as well there are multiple centers available to students looking to take the Japanese Proficiency test. In New York City, it is administered at Lehman College.

But what level is right for you? It depends on a few factors:

1 Frequency of study of Japanese up till now

2 – Goals you have for taking the exam

3 – How much you think you can study

1 – The Japanese Proficiency test is designed to be administered in five levels, N1 – N5. N5 is beginning level, and N1 is the highest or fluency level.

To get a sense of how each level differs, please try the sample problems found on this website: http://www.jlpt.jp/samples/forlearners.html

To get to take N5, we would recommend about 2 years of Japanese language study, or the Hills Learning equivalent of six semesters of our 2 month classes. Students taking N5 know some basic Japanese grammar, about 100 Kanji or so, and know the other alphabets Hiragana and Katakana.

To contrast this, N2 (the second highest level of the exam) requires knowledge of 1,000 Kanji, and about 6,000 vocabulary words. To give you a sense of the grammar you have to learn, there are 181 grammar patterns (not including basic grammar patterns that have been learned previously for N3 and N4 levels), and your listening skills have to be developed to listen to everyday conversations, office meetings, and general lectures and be able to pick out and understand what’s being said.

For students that are serious about learning Japanese and have been for sometime, maybe want to move to Japan or get into a Japanese company, we feel that N2 is the natural choice to take. Please see our JLPT Class for more information about our group course on this class.

2 – Which leads us to the second factor, what is your goal for taking the JLPT test? There are various reasons why people take the Proficiency Test, from trying to get a job to entering university. If it’s a specific goal such as entering a Japanese university as a foreign national, or applying for a translation job (for example the State Department has requirements of N1 for various positions), then you already know you have to pass the N1 level of the test.

N1 is naturally the hardest level of the exam, and just within the past couple years has become even harder. Students that don’t use the language on a daily basis at work, didn’t grow up speaking it, or do not have the time to immerse themselves should seriously consider not taking this level. It’s the fluency level for a reason, grammar and vocabulary studied for the test are usually not used in regular conversation.

As mentioned earlier, the N2 level is a great level to take if you’re interested in working in a Japanese company, or just looking to improve overall conversational and reading fluency. The grammar patterns for the test are used in everyday conversation, the vocabulary and kanji are frequented in newspapers, and you can claim you’re “business fluent” on a resume.

N3 is the newest addition to the JLPT level catalog, and it’s not quite clear to this author how the level will be used both on a practical basis and in the job market.

N4 has historically been the level that states you’re “not a beginner of Japanese.” Basically, N4 is where students are introduced to Keigo, the formidable polite language that has no direct equivalent in English. Add around 500 Kanji to the equation and it is proven by passing this level students are no longer considered beginners of Japanese.

3 – Which leads us to our third point, how much time do you have study for the Japanese Proficiency Test? Here’s the quick answer, if you do not use Japanese on a daily basis, you will need to study for the test. Whether it’s N5 or N1, students need to develop a regiment and study quite a bit. As with all tests, the first step is to understand the structure of the test and take some sample problems. Then afterwards for any level, students should be ready to study at least 3 to 4 hours  per week. N2 and N1 require more intensive regiments.

Thanks for reading about the JLPT test and we welcome your comments and questions. Good luck with your studies!

Japan Day – A great opportunity to learn Japanese in New York

2011 May 25
by learnjapanesehl

Thanks for coming to our website and your interest in learning Japanese! This past weekend was Japan Day, an event that celebrates Japanese language and culture in New York. We’d like to talk more about this, and think it’s one of the best opportunities to experience Japanese culture and language in New York City. The event numbers around 50,000 people. Please mark “Japan Day” on your calendar for next year!

Japan Day used to be just about Japanese culture and Japanese performances, such as cultural icons of Calligraphy and Hello-Kitty. Only recently though  Japan Day decided to offer a Japanese language tent along with their cultural exhibitions and demonstrations.

Each year, the Japan Day staff, along with Hills Learning and other involved language schools, come up with a list of key vocabulary phrases for Japan Day. This year was no different, our theme was Ganbare Japan, or “Japan, You can do it!” We taught language through a traditional Japanese card game called “Karuta.”

Many of the participants not only loved learning the language for a bit, but also really liked the cultural exposure. You can stop in and get tattoos, pictures with Hello Kitty, calligraphy cranes, and of course watch the performers. The performers range from cultural icons such as Karate clubs, to famous Jazz Singers and musical groups.

For reference, here is the Japan Day vocabulary we learned this year:

がんばれ – ganbare – You can do it!

ありがとう – arigato – Thank you!

おはよう – ohayo – good morning

こんにちは – konnichiwa – hello

大丈夫 – daijyobu – It’s okay

せんばづる – senbazuru – 1,000 origami cranes

友達 – tomodachi – friend

愛 – ai – love

希望 – kibo – hope

おうえん – o-en – support

すごい – sugoi – wonderful, great

元気 – genki – healthy, how are you?

Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you next year learning Japanese at Japan Day!

Speaking Japanese – Weather – Conversation Starters

2011 February 25
by Paul B

Imagine for a moment that you’re suddenly in Japan… you’re in Tokyo in Ueno park just enjoying some people watching, and then you see her (or him). Your Japanese idol. Maybe it’s a famous fashion designer or game developer, or perhaps your favorite author, poet, musician or artist, or perhaps it’s someone strikingly attractive. You want to break the ice. You want to make small talk and start a conversation… but how?!

Then you remember reading this article and say:

“最近、いい天気ですね”

“そうですね,” she says.

“明日、雨ですよ” You comment. You heard the weather report that morning.

“明日?ありがとう!” She says, thanking you, “I speak some English, too. Where are you from?”

And there you go! Breaking the ice and starting that conversation. Well, maybe it wouldn’t really go that well, but we can dream, can’t we?

This article is all about conversation starters and starting off with a good neutral topic – weather. Talking about the weather is an amazing way of breaking the ice and moving on to where someone’s from or what they do or what their hobbies are. By the end of this lesson, you’ll know a few phrases and some words that will let you approach anyone and start a conversation! And you’ll have done it in Japanese!

Talking about the weather is a great way to make chit chat and start a casual conversation. First I’m going to introduce you to some nouns and adjectives to allow you to combine them and create a staggering amount of basic statements. Let’s with start with some basic nouns:

天気 tenki – weather

ame – rain

kumo – cloud

yuki – snow

kaze – wind

kaminari – lightning/thunder

kasa – umbrella

季節 kisetsu – season

haru – Spring

natsu – Summer

aki – Fall

fuyu – Winter

niji – rainbow

giri – fog

sora – sky

koori – ice

arashi – storm

梅雨 tsuyu – rainy season

今日 kyo – today

明日 ashita – tomorrow

来週 raishu – next week

最近 saikin – recently, these days

Now for some adjectives:

暑い atsui – hot

寒い samui – cold

蒸し暑い mushiatsui – humid

晴れの hare no – fine (clear [skies])

涼しい suzushii – cool

暖かい atatakai – warm

いい ii – good, nice

嫌な iya na – bad, poor

So here’s the formula: _time-adjective_ , _adjective_ _noun_ desu (ne/yo).

The “desu” basically means “is,” a grammatical equal sign. Also, you can add “ne” (ね) at the end to prompt a response from the listener. It would somewhat equate to saying “y’know” or “don’t you think.” If you want to add a little more umph to your statement, you can add “yo” (よ). OR, just to give you more options, you could add “ka” (か) to make the statement a question. Whoa, isn’t that cool? See how easy Japanese can be!? Let’s see some examples:

ashita, arashi desu ka – Is there going to be a storm tomorrow?

iya na fuyu desu yo – It’s been an awful winter!!

saikin, samui desu ne – It’s been cold lately, don’t you think?

ii niji desu – It’s a nice rainbow

kyo, hare no sora desu ne – The sky is so nice today

mushiatsui natsu desu yo – It’s such a muggy humid summer!

Looking at all these examples, you’ll notice I don’t rigidly stick to the formula all the time. Sometimes there’s no time-adjective, or no noun, or no adjective. All of these are OK. The point is to give you tools and words and a flexible sentence structure you can use to say a whole bunch of things. You want to communicate, and we want to make that happen… And I want you to go out and make friends and have fun! J

Want to discuss the finer points of meteorology in Japanese? Or, want to apply to be the next weather forecaster on NHK? Schedule some lessons at Hills Learning! We’ll make clear weather the forecast for your Japanese language learning future.

Learning Japanese…in New York?! What’s the best way to do this?

2011 February 4
by learnjapanesehl

We’ve had numerous students interested in learning Japanese in New York City and wondering what should be the first step in learning the language. While there are a multitude of websites and other resources for learning Japanese online, one of the key recommendations for learning a foreign language is learn from a native speaker of that language.

Why is this so? You would think with developments such as Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur, Japanese Pod 101 and a plethora of other language sites and software that the ancient old tie between teacher and student for learning Japanese is losing its importance. Computers can replace people for many things, such as computations, household chores and even driving, so shouldn’t they be more efficient at teaching Japanese than human beings?

And also, what about old fashioned studying on your own? We have video games, books, websites, personal speaking dictionaries, and voice recognition software. If for example a student were to say “Ketsu” instead of “Kutsu” in Japanese, the computer would know right away that the student said “someone’s behind” instead of “someone’s shoes” and would correct them in pronunciation.

While we don’t hesitate to recognize development and advancement in learning Japanese where it is due, namely in voice recognition software, overall nothing will ever replace a well trained, experienced, and talented Japanese language teacher. A Japanese language teacher brings so much more to the table than any language learning “aid” could ever bring. (We like to think of software, cd-roms, video games as “language learning aids”) Here’s what a Japanese language teacher brings:

1 – a natural language partner – A computer can never be programmed to react with emotion to conversations. Since a language such as Japanese is absorbed and processed in the brain through conversation, a computer will never teach a student how to naturally speak the Japanese language.

2 – an irreplaceable source for writing – When you learned cursive as a child, was it through computers? No, it was through your teacher in the classroom. He or she looked over your shoulder, checked your stroke order, and corrected you when they couldn’t read your writing. Only a live breathing Japanese teacher can offer this.

3 – a teacher provides a relationship – This is perhaps the most overlooked part of the learning Japanese experience, in a place outside of Japan such as New York. When you live in Japan, you’re forced to use the language through multiple daily interactions that call for it, but in New York City no one cares if you speak Japanese, right?

Wrong, your teacher does. She checks up on your Japanese homework, gets excited when you remember and use a new vocabulary word, gets disappointed when you say you cannot make Japanese class, and comments on all her various cultural experiences growing up in Japan and how different it is in New York. From both a cultural and linguistic standpoint, a Japanese teacher is irreplaceable when it comes to effectively learning Japanese in New York City.

If we still haven’t convinced you enough in regards to learning Japanese in New York City, even after you’ve seen our list of Japanese Language Teachers, I’ll share a quick encounter I had with someone who had been learning Japanese with “language software.” We all know which one it is.

So I was at an Education-expo, walking around to different tables, and I managed to meet a guy who was working in a local school and was learning with language learning software at home. He said he enjoyed the software and approach, and I said great, “hajimemashite”, and he looked at me with a blank stare. I said, that’s “nice to meet you” in Japanese.

I then asked him, what do you know in Japanese? He said, “otoko no hito”, which means “guy.” I said, how about anything else? And he said another word, of which I don’t recall but it wasn’t a Japanese term that I’ve learned in my past 10 years of instruction in the Japanese language.

This guy could’ve been igai, or an exception, but the point is that in a beginner’s class of Japanese you learn the basics of speaking to people, such as “hajimemashite.” Any student that doesn’t at least learn that phrase in the first couple classes of private lessons isn’t learning Japanese.

So what are you waiting for? Come learn Japanese with Hills Learning’s Japanese Classes in New York, or any other language school. Remember, we focus on the quality of the teacher, and try our best to build the student – teacher relationship, which is key to any language learner’s process. Thanks for reading and good luck learning Japanese!

Learning Japanese – The Writing System

2011 January 20
by learnjapanesehl

If you’re interested in learning Japanese, a lot of students in New York are daunted by the fact they have to speak a language that’s different grammatically, and also have to learn how to write the Japanese language. Our article (Learn Japanese NYC) teaches a bit about the differences between the three alphabets, Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. It goes onto say that it’s really not that difficult to Learn Japanese, even when living in New York City. Please check out our article today to learn more about writing this wonderful language!

Learn Japanese NYC… for $10!

2011 January 5
by learnjapanesehl

Are you one of those students that has always wanted to learn Japanese, but just not ready to pay the high prices to take Japanese language classes at a college in New York? Hills Learning for a limited time offers a $10 Japanese Trial Class.  This coming Friday, instead of going out to the movies or spending money at a club or bar, why not spend the earlier part of your night learning Japanese, one of the most fascinating languages in New York City?

Hills Learning is conveniently located next to Grand Central Station. Why is this good for learning Japanese? Well, after you’ve finished with the $10 trial Japanese lesson, you can attend some of the Japanese related businesses nearby, such as ramen shops and Japanese grocery stores, and of course the king of all things Japanese in New York: Kinokuniya Bookstores, located right next to Bryant Park.

So what are you waiting for? Come enjoy your Friday night with Hills Learning and learn Japanese today!