Wednesday, 10 December 2014


Last week was the annual skills development conference. The conference happens every December in Tottori for about 2 days. It is usually held in Kurayoshi which is the city in the middle of our prefecture. After an hour on the train we arrived and were split into groups according to our age level of teaching, either junior high or high school. It is a time to share teaching ideas and catch up with fellow JETs. It is a mandatory meeting, but I managed to get out of the second days afternoon lecture because of a special guest at Nishiko. We had a professor from UofT come to our school to talk to the staff (all in English!!) and to have a small circle discussion with a few students. She was a lovely woman but her vocabulary was very advanced for even the highest level student who attended. However after a few awkward minutes the group warmed up and a few 3rd grade students could engage with her. It was a lovely opportunity for me to come back early and meet a fellow English speaker! On Saturday I studied for the majority of the day, trying to cram in any last knowledge I thought would help me pass the fearful JLPT.
 Sunday arrived and we hopped a train to Matsue, it was about 34$ for a 1.5 hour train so Sarah and I decided to splurge and take that train. A few ALT’s took the 20$ train, but it left at 7am and took 3 hours!!! YUCK! The test site was Matsue University so after a quick coffee at Starbucks we were at Matsue Uni ready to write. I was shocked at how serious the atmosphere was, when I first entered the room where I was designated to write N5 I noticed that everything with even a hint of Japanese had been covered up, from the TV (what did it say?! Toshiba? In romaji?!) to the clock! With no clock and limited time I only had the time to answer and then check over about half before the time was up. The test is in three sections and between each section a lengthy amount of rules are read out and we are told that if we do anything wrong we will receive yellow or red cards, AKA: be kicked out.

I finished the test with not as much confidence as I would have liked, but hey it’s over. The way the test works is that you can take any level, at any time. Whether or not I pass all the sections of this level I will still take the N4 in July as it is my goal to pass N4 before I leave Japan. The JLPT is not really useful for a resume unless you are at level N3-N1, but my personal goal is N4.

The feeling of the test being over is magical. I can move on from cramming every night to trying to solidify what I learned and start learning the next set of kanji I will have to master for N4.
Two weeks left until Christmas! Time to buy gifts, spend time with friends here and get ready for Vancouver!

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