6.5 C
New York
Thursday, January 26, 2023

Is 'standard' Japanese language test best metric for hiring foreigners? – Japan Today

JapanToday

Gleams Akihabara 703
2-8-16 Higashi-Kanda
Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 101-0031
Japan

Tel: +81 3 5829 5900
Fax: +81 3 5829 5919
Email: editor@japantoday.com

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.
The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.
A special feature of this year’s event: get interviewed on the spot and possibly get a job in one day!
It seems to mirror the criteria for testing of English in Japan. It always seems like ease of marking trumps anything else in testing in Japan. Hence the favouring of multiple-choice tests. It’s harder to assess speaking and writing skills and requires more personnel. In short, it is cheaper. Cheap test, cheapened results.
with no sections for speaking or writing, casts doubt over its suitability as a standard for gauging candidates looking to work in a Japanese environment.
Exactly why I will never waste my money on doing a JLPT.
But the JLPT’s multiple-choice format of passive reading and listening skills, with no sections for speaking or writing
I see Japan’s approach to grading language skills applies to their own. How can you possibly trust the results of a language test that doesn’t grade all the components – listening, reading, writing, and especially speaking?
It seems to mirror the criteria for testing of English in Japan.
Sorry my friend. I’ll have to disagree on that one. My biggest gripe with how English is taught in Japan is the fact that the Japanese are fickle about their tests. There is no one standard that the Japanese have to study for. Some universities require Eiken. Others the Step Test. Some look at TOEIC. Others don’t. There’s also Bulats, TOEFL, AND IELTS. There are TONS of English tests but the JLPT seems to be the defining standard to rate a non-Japanese’s Nihongo ability. My personal opinion is that the Japanese should just use 2 standard tests- TOEFL and IELTS, because those 2 tests are the standards set by NATIVE English-speaking countries. The JLPT is the standard set by Japan, the natives of Japanese and no one questions that. So just keep those 2 tests with TOEFL being the American English standard and IELTS being the standard for the Commonwealth Nations.
There are many very fluent people who don’t have a JLPT,
very true
and then there are people with N1 who can barely speak Japanese,” he said.
mainly, those are Chinese because they are the Kings of Kanji so for them the test is a breeze. But for most other people who are not Chinese, USUALLY if they pass N1, it means they are good at Japanese.
But the JLPT’s multiple-choice format of passive reading and listening skills, with no sections for speaking or writing, casts doubt over its suitability as a standard for gauging candidates looking to work in a Japanese environment.
I disagree. First of all, for speaking, the candidate’s Japanese ability can easily be assessed at a job interview. And scoring a speaker’s ability is subjective at best. Best to leave it to a company job interviewer.
As for writing Kanji, it’s not important at all. Whenever I have to fill out documents in Japanese and I can’t write the Kanji, I just go to my smartphone and type it in hiragana and the Kanji comes up. Plus, MANY Japanese people today aren’t as good at Kanji as they used to be due to technology. Like us and spelling. Our spelling got worse due to Auto Check.
Lived here for many years. I can barely get by in Japanese. Have to rely as much on them speaking English to me. I’ve tried… lord knows I’ve tried to learn, but it just hasn’t worked out for me. Not proud of myself. Embarrassing when people ask how long I’ve lived here. Starting to drop a few years off now. To try and lessen the impact. I guess some things just aren’t meant to be.
Lived here for many years. I can barely get by in Japanese. Have to rely as much on them speaking English to me. I’ve tried… lord knows I’ve tried to learn, but it just hasn’t worked out for me.
Exactly the same for me. A few years ago I was studying 3 or 4 hours a day, but nothing ever stuck. I learnt how to say something, even used it, but forgot it soon afterwards. I still study now, I do online flashcards, I watch beginner youtube videos, I copy out basic sentences over and over, but I’m unable to retain a single thing. Like you, I’ve been here many years, and feel ashamed when I tell people how long. I kid you not, I can’t even count to ten in Japanese, despite trying for years to be able to do so. Likewise with writing my name in Japanese, no matter how many times I practice, I can never get it right when I need to do it. It’s just the way my brain is.
The best way to learn how to speak, read and write Japanese is to live in an area of Japan where there are no other foreigners. I read Japanese comics and recited them out loud. That’s how I did it many years ago. Later on I went to university to study advanced Kanji and pronunciation
..
It’s also massively skewed towards its main customer – Chinese test takers. The reading section is really hard just to give them something to do (I remember taking the test next to a 12-year-old and it took her about 20 minutes to do the N2 reading section). Then the listening section is really easy otherwise they would all fail.
I got my N2 after three attempts so reckon I know a bit about the test.
I’ve tried… lord knows I’ve tried to learn, but it just hasn’t worked out for me. Not proud of myself.
I can barely get by in Japanese
In your defence, from my experience, being a gai koku jin, I do feel that in a lot of cases, Japanese people are not that easy to communicate with, be it in their first or second language (not all Japanese people of course).
I sense they feel they are being tested or something like that and can’t wait for the ordeal to end. It’s just a gut feeling I’ve always had and hope it ain’t off topic.
@tokyo_m
Do you find yourself purposely not listening now and blocking things out?
what’s that about?
Some here may think I’m inviting my own problems. How very true.
This is what happens when testing is left to amakudari type connected people. You get tests that are inappropriate in measuring ability, but surprise surprise involve little work in implementing.
As a parallel, the UK recently proved that if you leave the procurement of medical equipment to connected insiders, you end up with piles of overpriced unusuable stuff and piles of money in offshore bank accounts. The root cause is the same, a lack of accountability.
I am taking the JLPTN4 on Sunday, but in reality, I’m not really expecting it to help me that much in my endeavor to find a job.
Actually, I would prefer to have to speak as little Japanese as possible where I work, and thus am choosing to pursue a programming language instead.
They sure love their tests and shikaku. I was told by my company that if I want to one up in my career, I need to take the TOEIC test. I am the only native English speaker at my company who wrote their education background which clearly shows my entire school years were spent abroad.
Exams are never really a good gauge for evaluating fluency or intelligence. A good starting point at best. My wife (not Chinese) passed N1 last year. She can read, write and listen no problem but really can’t speak and always has me do the talking. I never took the JLPT or ever actively studied and can’t read or write kanji well. I can only speak and listen. I was forced to take an intensive 6 month Japanese crash course when I first got here that only focused on speaking and listening but, in my mind, that was a much better use of my time than people who spend years studying for the JLPT and still can’t properly speak Japanese.
This test is for reading, writing and grammar only. I passed N5, but failed N4 twice. I can’t read or write very well, about same as 5 year old.
but I can speak basic Japanese enough to survive. When I did a part time course for JLPT, students would go out for lunch or to matsuri. I had to translate for N3 and some N2. Especially in our local dialect.
my suggestion is to have two tests. Grammar one and Conversation one.
Passed JPLT 2 when I came here 18 years ago. Hard but feasible.
Now, I’m probably over L2 (pretty perfectly fluent) but would I pass L1 without studying it…unsure (actually, I doubt it…).
I did show the test material (from that time) to several Japanese friends. ALL were startled by some of the stuff. I had them take a one or two exercises in real time and under time constraints. ALL were unsure about their results but ALL did get a quasi-perfect result.
My verdict, if it confuses and makes the local doubt their own capacity at their mother tongue, I think there is a problem…
On a side-note, The Business Japanese Proficiency Test (BJT) makes more sense, but…is unfortunately less known…(I took it several times.)
https://www.kanken.or.jp/bjt/
Then there is the Nihon Kanji Noryoku Kentei, which makes a lot of sense and is pretty popular amongst the Japanese. (Took it several times).
https://www.kanken.or.jp/kanken/
The JLPT is a marker to say you have this much comprehension of Japanese. It doesn’t qualify you as being fluent, but it shows you are able to grasp a certain amount of the language. I did JLPT 1 over a decade ago, before the current N system, but in studying for the various levels, I really picked up a lot of Japanese that has served me well moving forward. I own/run two businesses, and it deals with a lot of reading of business documents, as well as negotiations and discussions that require a deep understanding of Japanese. I wouldn’t be able to do this had I not studied for the JLPT exams, which filled in things that I wouldn’t have ever learned through conversation alone. Of course, there are other ways to come to fluency as well, but the JLPT tests gave me something to work towards, and I was proud when I finally passed level 1.
Japanese language skill is not essential for doing business on a global scale. It’s just like speaking Italian. English is the defacto business language in the world. That’s all that matters unless you want a low-paying job inside Japan and only do business with locals.
It’s a fun but non-essential language, unless of course your married to Japanese……..; )
The lack of productive testing (speaking and writing) is a big drawback.
I passed the JLPT level 2 back in 2003 and could probably pass level 1 if I tried. BUT this just means that I can read Japanese and understand most of what I hear. My job requires me to operate about half the time in Japanese and I absolutely suck at producing Japanese. If I have to explain anything complex, or convey abstract ideas orally it all comes out sounding like “caveman Japanese”. Likewise when I have to write emails or other documents I mostly rely on copying precedents that I’ve saved up, but if I have to write something where I can’t do that I rely falter and am producing correspondence that might as well have been composed in crayon by a 7 year old.
Fortunately most of the Japanese work I have to do is in a “forgiving” environment so I can get by on what I have, but if I had to use it in a more demanding one (negotiating with clients, etc) my JLPT skills would be useless.
This article is so behind the times. Who is it for?
The test is okay for the skills it tests, but an interview is obviously needed if you are looking for speaking skills.
Exactly why I will never waste my money on doing a JLPT.
Don’t worry, you wouldn’t pass anyways. I passed level 1 in 2003 and when I told my boss I was inundated with large files in Japanese and late night calls, and now I keep my level to myself. Interestingly I have had job interviews in Japanese where the interviewer was very impressed with my speaking, and other interviews in the same industry a few weeks later where the feedback was that my Japanese was not good enough especially polite speaking. It is very subjective. The least I can say about level 1, is that you should be able to read newspapers and emails reasonably well because the reading portion is quite difficult. I was in a testing room as the only hakujin amongst about 35 Chinese students.
Actually, I would prefer to have to speak as little Japanese as possible where I work, and thus am choosing to pursue a programming language instead.
How will you know what to program if you cannot communicate effectively? You hope someone else will write that up for you?
Also you can learn multiple programming languages in the time it takes to learn Japanese.
Does speaking Japanese well make you any smarter? I’ve met foreigners who could speak Japanese quite well, but some (not all) of them are pretty dumb too.
I passed JLPT 2 back in…well, more years ago than I care to remember, and it has been next to useless in my professional or personal life here. The only people who seem to take this test seriously are Westerners (often on the JET program) who want to show off to other western gaijin.
Why have a written section when the vast majority of non-verbal communication is carried out via keypads? Surely speaking is more important. There’s the Jtest if you want a written component.
Does speaking Japanese well make you any smarter?
It depends on how you define smarter, as there are different types of intelligence. But it’s been shown that learning a second language as an adult staves off dementia by a number of years. It’s like exercise for the brain.
That’s as good a reason as any to give it another bash.
I passed JLPT1 years ago and my Japanese has always been cr*p. It’s not a very practical test.
I did enjoy the challenge of Kanken – very interesting to be seated with children. Managed to go up to level 4.
The JLPT low usefulness to judge the Japanese ability of a person is one thing, the other is that the kind of communication abilities required for a person is very different in each job. Is the person going to be in constant communication with clients, with other people at the workplace, with specialists on one field?
I have been told that at the end the JLPT is just one of the many details to evaluate to consider communication abilities, not a deciding factor in any way, and that including even a short experience in a part time job (where Japanese communication is required) can be a much better appeal in a CV.
I love talking and singing -learning songs in Japanese is a great way to improve Japanese and get a load of kanji at the same time.
Have Japanese friends or a girlfriend/wife that don’t speak or are not interested in other languages than Japanese and you are set.
I watch the news with my significant other and ask a lot of questions to help with my understanding.
And it also helps to have a mind for trivial facts.
Learning languages is fun no matter what age one becomes…
I think the test should qualify as a skill, but not be mandatory. Someone may have lived and worked here their whole lives but not be Japanese nationals, and can perform above and beyond in Japanese, language and otherwise, but if they don’t have a lousy test under their belt they can work? And a language test says absolutely zero about people skills and dealing with others.
I have never taken a JLPT test and probably wouldn’t be able to pass one, but having lived here my whole adult life I’m more comfortable speaking in Japanese then I am in English. Although I can read most commonly used kanjis I have totally given up on trying to write in Japanese. The only time I use a pen to write is when I need to sign something, so now I would even become hesitant if I were to write in ABC. I see more and more Japanese struggling to remember their Kanjis as well. 7 years ago when I worked at a Japanese company they always had the youngest person write on the whiteboard, because the person freshest out of school was the one best at writing.
The best way to learn how to speak, read and write Japanese is to live in an area of Japan where there are no other foreigners.
Also a good way to go insane.
Looking for a job one year back, some young guys at recruiting agencies were telling me some companies are looking for foreigners having the JPLT1 and speaking perfectly Japanese without mistake.
The recruiting guy himself, a foreigner, was barely speaking Japenese. He did not know exactly how it works in a Japanese company.
Well, I do not have the JPLT and have been working for some major J companies for nearly 20 years, being the only foreigner around. No major issues, but it asked for a lot of efforts to reach a decent communication and writing level.
The JPLT is only a criteria. Competencies and technical skills are more important.
Let’s face it. Japanese is a language that is specific to one Country, and one Country only.
English / French and German are more widely spoke across different countries. and Chinese is probably the most spoken within one single Country. But for Business, English should be first and foremost – it’s simply common place.
@tokyo_m Do you find yourself purposely not listening now and blocking things out?
Sadly, my brain has always blocked it out. But I am determined to finally get to grips with it, but without putting too much pressure on myself or working so hard at it that I burn myself out or get depressed. Somehow, I have to make it into a fun hobby and not an excruciating chore. Good luck to us both.
Speaking ability is never tested. The system is a complete joke.
English / French and German are more widely spoke across different countries. and Chinese is probably the most spoken within one single Country. But for Business, English should be first and foremost – it’s simply common place.
There’s no ‘should’ about it, there’s ‘is’. An in this case, the ‘is’ is that Japanese is required for business in Japan, regardless of what you think it should be. People focusing on what things should be, do not advance in the system of how things actually are.
Speaking ability is never tested. The system is a complete joke.
So it doesn’t test reading, writing and grammar?
What happens to a very good and experienced job applicant who does not speak Japanese yet but will take classes while in Japan?
Not hired?
What happens to a very good and experienced job applicant who does not speak Japanese yet but will take classes while in Japan?
Not hired?
It depends on the job, but for IT and English teaching jobs, which are a significant number of overseas hiring, there probably won’t be any requirement to know or learn Japanese.
If it’s a job that requires Japanese communication, it’s doubtful they would be hiring from overseas, as they would want a candidate who speaks Japanese and English already.
Just like Japanese learning English. Read and listening comprehension is all you really need.
No one cares or listens to what to have to say anyway. 🙂
Well, being a competent and efficient entrepreneur depends on a lot of other things besides being able to pick up a foreign language. It helps to be able to do so, but to go only by that is a mistake. As for myself, vision, planning, developing a strategy to make the plan a reality and persistence are far more important.
It’s like chess in a lot of ways. One approach by itself simply isn’t enough to cut it. Although foreign language acquisition is a skill, it’s useless if the person doing the talking (in whatever language) is completely inept.
Anyway, being able to speak and use a foreign language is just one tool of many, but it’s far from being the only thing or the most important thing in determining success.
It’s because the whole language has some major problematic issues when comparing the written language to the spoken language.
In the beginning for those attempting to learn the language can be extremely frustrating and appears void of logic.
The formal , informal and more commonly used casual or slang type conversational Japanese is purely situational.
Then there’s the reality of a foreigner putting themselves through such torment of learning the written and spoken language only to find that regardless of all the time it took to become fluent they are still faced with frequent discrimination .
There’s no ‘should’ about it, there’s ‘is’. An in this case, the ‘is’ is that Japanese is required for business in Japan,
Well iam sorry but its definitely not required to be fluent in Japanese to be in business in Japan.
I live here and know plenty of foreigners that are in business and aren’t fluent.
My personal salary is double the average and iam not completely fluent yet.
My success is attributed to the study of Japanese body language and culture and due to my valuable performance and not due to my verbal or written efficiency.
Language has many forms.
In Japan there’s a massive amount of subtle communication that isn’t spoken.
Flexibility is key.
Well iam sorry but its definitely not required to be fluent in Japanese to be in business in Japan.
I live here and know plenty of foreigners that are in business and aren’t fluent.
This is true.
It doesn’t matter if you can speak perfect Japanese. If you don’t understand English, you can’t learn programming, and if you don’t learn programming, you can’t become a software engineer or web developer, a type of professional Japan is seeking more of. Programming languages are in English. There are no programming languages in Japanese. Or any other languages for that matter. Most IT related occupations are also impossible to do if you don’t at least know the English terminology.
Foreigners learning Japanese are better off learning it to make non-English speaking Japanese friends, or for the sake of trying to talk to women.
There’s no ‘should’ about it, there’s ‘is’. An in this case, the ‘is’ is that Japanese is required for business in Japan,
Well iam sorry but its definitely not required to be fluent in Japanese to be in business in Japan.
I live here and know plenty of foreigners that are in business and aren’t fluent.
Their paperwork for the government, and all taxes etc are done in English? I think not. If they can’t speak Japanese, they have someone who handles the Japanese stuff for them.
And if you’re interacting with Japanese companies, so few of them speak English, you need to be able to speak Japanese to negotiate.
The amount of business done in English is so small, that it statistically almost doesn’t exist.
Sure, you can own a business in Japan without speaking English, but teaching English isn’t ‘doing business’ in Japan. It’s owning a little bubble, and you’ll still need staff to talk to the parents, file taxes, deal with lawyers, deal with banks etc.
It doesn’t matter if you can speak perfect Japanese. If you don’t understand English, you can’t learn programming, and if you don’t learn programming, you can’t become a software engineer or web developer, a type of professional Japan is seeking more of. Programming languages are in English. There are no programming languages in Japanese. Or any other languages for that matter. Most IT related occupations are also impossible to do if you don’t at least know the English terminology.
We were talking of foreigners needing to speak Japanese for work, not Japanese needing to know English for work.
And while programming languages use English words in their fundamental concepts, I know Japanese coders who don’t speak English, who can still code. You don’t need to speak English to code. And let’s remember, the Ruby programming language was invented by Japanese programmers in the first place.
Programming languages are in English. There are no programming languages in Japanese. Or any other languages for that matter.
Careful with such broad statements. The programming language ABAP (Advanced Business Application Programming, originally Allgemeiner Berichts-Aufbereitungs-Prozessor) that underlies SAP enterprise software is written in German and is exceedingly non intuitive to use. The German developed software in German automotive CAN-Bus architectures are another source of endless frustration. I occasionally joke that one should never let Germans write software. Leave that to Japanese and Americans.
Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.
A special feature of this year’s event: get interviewed on the spot and possibly get a job in one day!
A mix of what's trending on our other sites
Savvy Tokyo
GaijinPot Blog
GaijinPot Blog
Savvy Tokyo
GaijinPot Blog
Savvy Tokyo
Savvy Tokyo
Savvy Tokyo
GaijinPot Blog
GaijinPot Blog
GaijinPot Blog
GaijinPot Blog

source

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Articles