I finally got around to taking Level 1 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (日本語能力試験) last weekend. Roy, Adamu and Curzon all took it while they were in diapers, but I never saw much need to do so myself. It’s hardly a good benchmark of ability; one can pass Level 1 with poor Japanese skills, or fail it with good Japanese skills, depending solely on how one’s skills match the material covered on the test. Level 1 essentially tests for the following:
- Basic conversational and reading comprehension ability
- Correct pronunciation of words written in kanji
- Ability to distinguish between similar kanji
- Ability to distinguish between grammatical forms that nobody uses
- Ability to understand science fiction anime
Point 5 is apparently a new addition to the December 2009 examination, and showed up in the last question on the listening section, helpfully uploaded to YouTube so I can prove to everyone that it is real. (Hat tip to these guys, and to Roy for tipping me off through Facebook.)
Another question on the listening test was based on a role-playing video game similar to Final Fantasy; the recording played an explanation of the various steps required to beat the game (with an accompanying 8-bit-style map in the test booklet), and the test taker was asked to give the correct order of places to visit. It’s nice to know that Level 1 has some practical uses.