Saturday, December 03, 2005


My last two weeks have been engulfed by nothing but Japanese study (and a few minor things like work, eating, sleeping, and sadly, seeing Xin off to the airport). This period of study has been surprising to me, and has been something I am now quite proud of. The best thing of all: I have almost completely slain my Listening Comprehension demons. They are lying there baring breathing.

To put it in comparison, when I did the Level 2 test in 1998, I got 20% in the Listening, defying even the average result from random guessing (it was multichoice!). When I had begun my course back in July/August, every listening test had me struggling to break even at 50% - and this even after having a 'break-through'. Some nights, admittedly when I was tired after a day of work, I would be getting maybe 30%. When that course ended though, my listening skills faded and in the early stages of my preparation I would be lucky to understand even the Level 3 or 4 tests.

Recently though, I have been slaughtering tests. I just did a practice test and in the section with pictures, I got an unprecedented 14/15 and in the second section (without pictures where you have to rely on listening for the question, the listening segment and the four choices) I got 14/16.

My biggest discovery is that my problem was mainly mental. I used to get flustered and none of the words went in. I probably gained composure through the Chinese study I did earlier as I also exposed myself to a lot of listening and eliminated that weakness. It is surprising listening to listening tests that I had done previously. They are so easy, yet months previously I was all at sea. I now am dousing my brain in Japanese news and current affairs.

With this, I now have immense confidence in my ability to pass tomorrow. In fact, I would even be sure that I would have made a valiant attempt at passing the highest level (I have done the advanced level practice tests).

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