Kitani Method’s Evaluation of the JLPT

>> More About the JLPT Level 4 Test

The Japanese Language Proficiency Test, or JLPT, claims to be a standardized criterion-referenced test for evaluating and certifying the Japanese language proficiency of non-native speakers.

However, despite this claim, the JLPT mainly tests the applicantfs ability to read written* Japanese together with a very limited amount of listening comprehension. It does not test the applicantfs communication skills through any type of oral communication testing, as is shown below:

JLPT Test Contents Summary:

Level Kanji Vocabulary Listening Hours of Study Pass Mark
4 `100 (103) `800 (728) Beginner 150 (estimated) 60%
3 `300 (284) `1,500 (1,409) Basic 300 (estimated)
2 `1,000 (1,023) `6,000 (5,035) Intermediate 600 (estimated)
1 `2,000(1,926) `10,000 (8,009) Advanced 900 (estimated) 70%

(Numbers in brackets indicate the exact number in the Test Content Specification, 2004 edition.)

Exam duration:

Level Kanji and
and grammar
Total duration
4 25 minutes 25 minutes 50 minutes 100 minutes
3 35 minutes 35 minutes 70 minutes 140 minutes
2 35 minutes 40 minutes 70 minutes 145 minutes
1 45 minutes 45 minutes 90 minutes 180 minutes

The most problematic aspect of the above contents summary concerns the Level 4 test. The Kitani Method believes strongly that a novice student should give clear priority to acquisition of conversational communication skills over reading skills in Japanese. Therefore, it does not make sense for a novice student to make the Level 4 proficiency test his/her goal for studying Japanese, and to spend his/her precious 150 hours for this mostly reading-based test since focusing on preparing for the JLPT will not enhance his/her verbal conversational communication skills.

The Kitani Method suggests that a novice student should study Japanese following the Kitani Method for 150 hours, skip the Level 4 test, and then go for the Level 3 test, which is significantly more valuable as a career qualification. 150 hours of diligent study following the Kitani Methodfs curriculum will make a student quite eligible for the Level 3 test. Since the Level 3 test requires an estimated 300 hours of study according to the above chart, the Kitani Method will save the student about 150 hours of preparation needed for taking the test.

The Kitani Method would like to stress once more that the Level 4 JLPT should not be the goal for a novice student of Japanese.

As for the Level 2 and Level 1 test, although these tests heavily favor students whose native language uses the kanji writing system, the Kitani Method prepares students by including a lot of practical kanji learning materials in its curriculum designed especially for business use, such as negotiating business matters or reading Japanese business papers.

* The written language is often substantially different from the spoken language in any languages, and this is especially the case with Japanese. As a result, the ability to read written Japanese often does not correspond with the ability to communicate effectively in spoken Japanese.