Should You Take The JLPT?
Monday, December 7th, 2009
The JLPT is over for another year or just about to begin depending on your level. Some of you attended, some may have missed it, others didn’t know it was on and the rest. Well, care factor = 0.
If you spend any time reading around the interwebs this time of year, you’ll notice the great unwashed coming out of their caves and denouncing the JLPT as a waste of money and/or time.
While it is true that neither JLPT N4 or JLPT N3 are going to get you a job labelling life-saving pharmaceuticals in Japan, they do provide a consistent and relative summation of your Japanese skills. You take exactly the same test as everyone else in the world – it doesn’t get much fairer than that.
Of course, the JLPT on all levels is clearly lacking in some areas – particularly speaking and writing – but it is the best that is available outside of Japan so we can’t be too picky.
There’s really no simple answer as to why you should (or shouldn’t) take the JLPT, as everyone has a different reason for putting themselves to the test.
If you’re like me, you need a solid goal to get your arse in to gear.
As a full-time member of Procrastinators Anonymous, a tight, immovable deadline coupled with the fear of being mocked by my peers for coming up short would be reason enough for me to take it and to do well.
Perhaps your motivations are far less self-centred than mine, you may actually be looking at the JLPT certification for something important, like a job in Japan.
If you’re trying to secure any type of professional job, your employers will require at least JLPT N2 and more than likely JLPT N1.
Depending on the company, they may waive the JLPT requirement if you can prove in an interview that you are fluent. However, having that JLPT certificate in your hands confirms, at least on paper, that you have the required skills.
In a recent job ad on www.dannychoo.com, the ubiquitous Mr Choo posted his requirement for a new developer as:
You need to be well versed in Japanese – at least JLPT level two or equivalent speaking/reading and writing skill. If you can read most of the Japanese version of this post then you qualify for this requirement.
While JLPT N2 was used in the ad to set a benchmark that most understand, in reality if you knew your stuff and could prove your Japanese fluency then the job was yours. Unfortunately it counted me out of the race on both counts (^_^).
As with most things in life, it is best to do what you think is best for you and your future and not what others believe is best.
If you want a piece of paper hanging on the wall to tell your friends and family that you know 100 kanji and that your Japanese rocks, then do it.
If you’re eyeing off a future that includes well-paid employment in Japan then do it.
Take it for what it is, a simple test of skills. If you find the idea abhorrent then don’t apply.
What have you got to lose?
It’s a few hours out of your life and costs less than you’ll spend on beer at the pub this Saturday night.