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Amparo Bertram

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07:43 pm: Am I proficient yet?
I intended to study a lot yesterday. Really, I did. But the zipper on my one pair of cream-colored pants broke, so I decided that since I needed groceries anyway I would shop for a new pair. I bought the original one when I was in Niigata, so I figured I should be able to find something similar without too much trouble.

...Boy, was I wrong. I could find the right color in a sweater or a jacket, sure. Skirts they had in abundance. But after searching at least three different stores, I came to the conclusion that there was not a single pair of cream or ivory pants in all of Moriyama. Thus my futile search came to a conclusion and I returned home, whereupon I was promptly struck with a craving for potato curry. There was nothing for it but to make some. (...Which left me with another sinkful of dishes. Why do all the things I like to eat use so many pots and pans to make? Why?!)

In essence, I didn't get around to studying until after supper. But at least it was a really GOOD supper.

I got up this morning at about 4:30. I didn't need to, of course, but once my eyes were open I knew I wouldn't be able to get back to sleep. I caught an early train to Kyoto and made it to the testing site with plenty of time to spare. One detail I found interesting: the test-takers (at least for level 1) were overwhelmingly Asian. I think there were only about three other non-Asian faces in the room with me. (I did see a lot more outside after the test got out...perhaps they were all in the lower levels?)

The official testing time ran from 9:45am to 3:30pm, with two breaks in between the sections. The test itself went pretty quickly. What took forever was all the waiting.

Kanji and Vocabulary
I'm not very proud of my performance in this section. It started off well--the very first problem was about ghosts, which was vocabulary right up my dark alley, but it went downhill from there. I had made a list of about 125 kanji compounds to study (including a bunch of business vocab), and I don't think a single one was actually on the vocab part of the test. In particular, there was one sentence about someone's college buddy doing something agricultural that was sheer gibberish to me. And I know for a fact that when I went back over the questionable problems I second-guessed myself and changed a right answer to a wrong answer. Ah, well, I did what I could.

Intermission
I was incredibly lucky that my room was right next to the bathroom. There was still a line, though, because the lower levels had shorter exam times and therefore got out a few minutes earlier. I was also glad that I had brought along my own hand sanitizer, because there was no soap.

Listening
This section was a piece of cake. I think there was only one question I missed, and that was because I was listening to what was being said rather than who said it. I just spaced out for a minute there.

Intermission/Lunch
Before the third part of the test started, one of the people in my room was disqualified and kicked out. I'm not sure what for...possibly for opening the test booklet too soon.

Reading Comprehension and Grammar
This was easy as can be. It was tedious to go through all the text excerpts for the reading section, but the questions were a breeze. I finished with a half hour to spare and hadn't even marked any questionable ones to go back and check. Do you know how BORING it is to sit silently at a desk and look as not suspicious as possible for half an hour? I tried putting my head down for a while, but that just cut off the circulation in my arms. Eventually I just sat up and yawned a lot.

Aftermath
The guy sitting next to me nearly got disqualified after the tests were collected because he turned on his cell phone. The proctor warned that using cell phones in the room was against the rules, even though the test was over, but he pretended not to know who did it. (We were sitting in the center second row, so it was pretty obvious.)


After the test, I caught a bus to Kyoto Station and went shopping in the underground mall, figuring that if I couldn't find a pair of pants to my liking there, they don't exist in the entire country. It was rough searching. I found one pair that was almost what I wanted, though slightly too yellowish, but it was priced at $80. Yeaouch. Finally I located a single pair that wasn't quite the style I was hoping for but was at least the right color...and, more importantly, a decent price. So, yay.

While shopping, I was entranced by a store selling clothes from the Hitoshi Tamura Collection. The gown up front on display was absolutely gorgeous...kind of like Faire garb made out of kimono fabric. None of the clothes had price tags on them, which was a sign to me that they were probably WAY out of my price range. I ran a web search on the designer, but didn't turn up anything other than that there was a Hitoshi Tamura fashion show in Canada back in 1997.

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Comments

[User Picture]
From:melf42
Date:December 5th, 2004 11:20 am (UTC)
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Congrats and o-tsukare-sama!
Wow, I'm surprised you saw someone get disqualified. Did they fight it? I saw a lot of yellow cards (for people opening their booklets too soon and not stopping after the announcement said to stop writing) but no one got disqualified that I saw. Someone's cell phone did go off after the testing period, but I guess they didn't mind at that point. Someone's watch also went off near me, right during the listening period, but I guess no one else heard it.

I know what you mean about not looking suspicious, though. It seems like everything is suspicious to the proctors, even answering normally.

All in all, though, sounds surprisingly similar to my experience including that most of the takers were Asian... all except for the fact that you might actually Pass.

I should start getting serious about manga... then my reading wouldn't take so long.
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:December 5th, 2004 08:45 pm (UTC)
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Did they fight it?

She tried to protest, quietly, but the proctor just stood there continuing to repeat "moushiwake arimasen" firmly until she gave in.

It seems like everything is suspicious to the proctors, even answering normally.

They had to make an announcement during the first break that if you drop your pencil or eraser you shoul call a proctor over to pick it up for you, because picking it up yourself is suspicious.

I should start getting serious about manga... then my reading wouldn't take so long.

Reading party at melf42's house! ...Speaking of which, have you made your holiday plans?
[User Picture]
From:melf42
Date:December 5th, 2004 10:47 pm (UTC)
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picking it up yourself is suspicious

I'm not surprised. They looked very suspiciously at a girl next to me who did that. What I wonder about is how the testers in 4kyuu did, especially the ones that could not understand the instructions. I know one person who did 4kyuu (who speaks better Japanese than me, but can barely read it) who said that when the instructor said to "Please Start" that no one did anything.

Speaking of which, have you made your holiday plans?


I'm off on Dec. 17th for a long, long, caused-bosses-to-whine holiday at home. I'll be back just before classes start. How about you?

(Hope this message doesn't go through twice. Hotmail was being ornery)
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:December 5th, 2004 11:04 pm (UTC)
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who said that when the instructor said to "Please Start" that no one did anything.

I remember the other ALT from Matsudai took level 4, and she totally didn't understand the instructions for the listening section. She thought they would have time to go back and fill in answers later.

How about you?

I haven't got anything planned. I might look into going to Comiket...or I might just be too lazy.
[User Picture]
From:wednesday_10_00
Date:December 5th, 2004 12:35 pm (UTC)
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And I know for a fact that when I went back over the questionable problems I second-guessed myself and changed a right answer to a wrong answer.
Agh, I did the same thing. But I also changed a couple to right answers, so I guess it worked out okay. Still, that section was....ugh. >_<

I just spaced out for a minute there.
I did that twice. (Hopefully I guessed right...it was a 50/50 chance on both.) Couldn't they have made the listening section a little more challenging? I was so bored I was doodling on my paper. I guess years of anime paid off?

The guy sitting next to me nearly got disqualified after the tests were collected because he turned on his cell phone.
That happened in our room, too, only the proctor was nice and just warned people not to turn their phones on. People did anyway, but they had the sound turned off (well, duh!). Still, I was like...you can't wait five minutes to turn on your phone?
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:December 5th, 2004 08:40 pm (UTC)
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Still, that section was....ugh.

I know *at the very least* I got the ghost question right. ^_^ Oh, and the katakana problems (of which there were, what, two?). Those kinds of questions make me really glad my native language is English, rather than Korean or Chinese like most of the rest of the test-takers. (I overheard two Chinese ladies asking each other about one of the katakana questions while in line for the bathroom.)

Couldn't they have made the listening section a little more challenging?

I was kind of thinking the same thing. I guess if listening is hard for you, the questions would have been difficult...but the speakers all had clear voices and talked reasonably slowly. They didn't have any outstanding accents, nor was there any pronounced Guyspeak or Old Man Japanese. That would have been hard.

I guess years of anime paid off?

That's gotta be it.
[User Picture]
From:wednesday_10_00
Date:December 6th, 2004 12:15 am (UTC)
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I was kind of thinking the same thing. I guess if listening is hard for you, the questions would have been difficult...but the speakers all had clear voices and talked reasonably slowly.
Not that any of the exam is really practical, but I think the listening section has to be the most useless of all. Not only is nobody ever going to talk that slowly (or in that much of a ridiculously roundabout way), but you can always ask a question if you don't understand.

Last night I got a point card for the local department store. Now, if they'd put the stuff that lady babbled about on the listening test, that would have been tricky. She totally lost me when she started going on about how if you spend a certain amount of money in a week, the percentage of points you earn goes up. (I think.) She gave me a pamphlet though, so I can read it and figure it out later. If I care.
[User Picture]
From:sara_tanaquil
Date:December 6th, 2004 03:58 am (UTC)
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It's so funny hearing you guys talk about how easy the listening portion is. I just took the Level 3 test today (full report later...). The listening portion -- of LEVEL 3, for God's sake -- is by far the worst part for me. And to me, it sounds like they're talking ungodly fast -- sometimes I listen to a portion ten times over, with the script, and still can't make out individual words.

I listened to uncounted hours of level-appropriate CD material with a script to compare it to, and I think I managed to raise my practice test score from a 56 to 62. The test itself felt about the same. It's just sad. Still, in my most recent practice test, I was near-perfect on the other two sections, so I'm hoping for a score in the 80s in spite of the listening fiasco.

I guess, living in Japan, your whole life is a listening test. 24/7. :-)

I'm hoping as I get more proficient, listening to anime will help, but right now I can only pick out occasional words and phrases, so I don't think I learn much.
[User Picture]
From:wednesday_10_00
Date:December 6th, 2004 04:27 am (UTC)
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I guess, living in Japan, your whole life is a listening test. 24/7. :-)
Pretty much. :) Only about 500 hundred times harder than what's on the test. :x Even anime dialogue (which is still lots faster than the listening test) is usually slower and more clear than the way people talk in real life.

I'm hoping as I get more proficient, listening to anime will help, but right now I can only pick out occasional words and phrases, so I don't think I learn much.
I've heard people go on and on about how anime and manga don't help you learn Japanese, but that's a big, fat lie. They DO help, if you use them right. If you're picking out words and phrases while you watch, that's a good start. Keep at it! Don't give up because you don't understand, just keep plugging away. Just exposing yourself to the language is good for you. Also, try watching it without subtitles. You won't understand as much, true, but it'll force you to pay more attention to what they're saying.
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:December 6th, 2004 08:23 am (UTC)

A reply to two posts for the price of one...

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Still, in my most recent practice test, I was near-perfect on the other two sections, so I'm hoping for a score in the 80s in spite of the listening fiasco.

Let's hear it for averaging! If they counted section by section, I'd be in big trouble.

Also, try watching it without subtitles. You won't understand as much, true, but it'll force you to pay more attention to what they're saying.

One other thing...if you can get your hands on Japanese DVDs with Japanese captions, that's even better. You can practice listening and reading at the same time, and they reinforce each other.
[User Picture]
From:sara_tanaquil
Date:December 7th, 2004 06:40 pm (UTC)

Re: A reply to two posts for the price of one...

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One other thing...if you can get your hands on Japanese DVDs with Japanese captions, that's even better. You can practice listening and reading at the same time, and they reinforce each other.

Ooh, you can get those? (You know, I should have thought of that... of course Japanese DVDs would be closed-captioned in their own language. I've always wished that bilingual DVDs published in the US had a Japanese subtitle option, but I've never seen one.)

That might just be a reason for me to go hunting for a region-free DVD player. *drools*
[User Picture]
From:megory
Date:December 5th, 2004 04:24 pm (UTC)

Congratulations!

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It's probably a good feeling to have the test under your belt. Do you know how soon you will get the results? I'm happy there were so many parts of the test that were easy for you.

I'm also glad you found some slacks. If the other (older) pair is still relatively good, it's not that difficult to take off the old zipper and put on a new one, now that you are so skilled in sewing. It can be done by hand or with a zipper foot attachment instead of the normal presser foot. A new zipper is relatively inexpensive.

Love,
Mom
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:December 5th, 2004 08:30 pm (UTC)

Re: Congratulations!

(Link)
Do you know how soon you will get the results?

They're supposed to be sent out mid-February.

I'm happy there were so many parts of the test that were easy for you.

The easy parts were worth 3/4 of the total score, so I'm hopeful they'll bring up my average.
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