I am still very much on my journey to learn Japanese – a journey that will never end. A recent success was passing The first level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT N5). I am now prepping for the next level (N4) and I often wonder if I have left too much to do and I don’t have enough time. I’ve always had severe test/exam anxiety; I took a “break” from actively self-studying Japanese after passing N5. In hindsight that was a mistake as it has been quite difficult to get back into the grove.
I recently bought a couple of JLPT N4 books to help nudge me off of my lazy ass. I don’t attend any regular formal classes so self-studying is all I do. The books I got are:
- Nihongo Soumatome N4 (日本語総まとめ N4)
- New Kanzen Master Grammar JLPT N4
- Japanese Language Proficiency Test N4 (Test examples)
My favourite of the three by far is Nihongo Soumatome. It is basically a 6-week course in the form of a book teaching all the relevant kanji and vocabulary. A daily lesson and quiz, then a weekly test containing material studied over the previous six days. It’s perfect for someone like me who needs structure, a clear goal and an easy way to see if progress is being made. My one complaint is the Vietnamese translations alongside the English ones all throughout the textbook. It was quite distracting and useless for me and I wish I could have gotten a version of the book with just English and Japanese.
The New Kanzen Master Grammar book I have honestly not spent much time using yet. Grammar is always so difficult and I expect this book to take me more time to get through. The first couple lessons about conjugations etc I somewhat understand but the deeper in I get I start to get a drowning feeling. This is where most of my mental energy will be expended in the coming weeks as I need to get my understanding of Japanese grammar sharper and also to be able to read and comprehend faster!
The JLPT N4 textbook is the last of the JLPT N4 books I got. It is the official book from the test website and has example questions. It is the exact same book available for free on the website but I opted to get the physical version again because I have no discipline and can’t be trusted to view from my laptop or smartphone without getting distracted. Like I did with the N5 version of the same book I intend to attempt the questions in this book a couple of days before the test as a gauge to test my readiness. If I do well then I can relax if not then sound the alarm bells!