We have a special feature this week as we talk with one of our very own users who recently passed the JLPT N5 studying only with Nihongo Master! Christine tells us a little bit about herself and gives us a Nihongo Master review too!
Where are you from?
I am from the U.S. I grew up north of Boston, MA and now live in Maine
Why are you learning Japanese?
I have tried on and off again just for personal interest since high school. Now, I want to be able to talk to my student from Japan and read their messages.
How long have you been studying?
I first tried to study Japanese about 10 years ago. I had managed to learn hiragana before my first trip to Japan, but couldn’t make sentences or understand grammar. I have consistently and seriously studied Japanese for about 5 years, since just before I found NihongoMaster.
Why did you choose Nihongo Master?
I have tried Japanese for Dummies, Rosetta Stone, and another well-reputed software that I forget the name of. None of them worked. I only figured out hiragana. I had success with a native speaker tutoring me, but it was too expensive. While I was living in Japan, I found NihongoMaster when I went looking for a way to study at work. I have used it for over 3 years now I think.
What do you like most about Nihongo Master?
I like the way the drills function. I went to school for teaching English and then studied TESOL and the way NihongoMaster works is perfect. I like the delay increase between repeat drills. I like the style of lessons and drills. It has helped me learn where all the other programs failed. Rosetta Stone was boring because the only way to practice what I did yesterday was to do the literal exact same thing again and again.
What’s one thing you wish the website had or did differently?
I miss being able to see the count on how many drills I have on the mobile version of the site. I also wish there was more practice in identifying the pronunciation of kanji, that is my current biggest weakness.
Have you ever been to Japan?
I first went to Japan in March 2008 for ten days as a part of a college course. It was cool to travel around to the major sites.
I lived in Japan from September 2013 to August 2014. I worked in Onomichi-shi for the JET Program. So I taught English in three high schools in Hiroshima prefecture during that time. It was amazing to go to club activities. Our baseball team was in the top 4 of Hiroshima for the summer tournament. I wish I could have gone to see them at Koushien, if they had won a couple more matches.
I also went back briefly for about a week to see my third years graduate in February/March 2015.
Do you have any Japanese friends?
I speak with a few of my students still. We talk a lot about manga and anime or music. Many of them added me on Facebook recently, so I practice and stay connected that way.
What’s your favorite part of Japanese culture?
I am an addict for manga. But, I think that the history is my favorite part. I do medieval recreation and am hoping to eventually make my own kosode from flax I have grown and spun. Then dye and embroider. It would be intense, but I am looking forward to it!
About taking the JLPT N5
As I said, I’ve tried to learn Japanese for over a decade and failed. After finding NihongoMaster, I felt much more comfortable speaking and typing in Japanese (though my students laughed at me once when I made a mistake and said しますた which was embarrassing).
After returning from Japan, I took a break for about 3 or 4 months because it was a bit too sad. Once I started practicing again, I generally practice around 30 minutes minimum each day. Sometimes I get a bit behind and can end up going for up to 2 hours.
I don’t use any other study tools besides occasionally reading manga or watching anime in Japanese. I do listen to a Japanese mix cd that a student gave me when I drive, but none of these are really actively studying. Mostly I get excited when I recognize and understand a new phrase because of what I’ve been studying.
Before taking that JLPT, I purchased a practice test from Japan (I ordered from j-list) so I could see if I could pass before I took the test. This gave me an idea of what the test would look and sound like, which helped me destress a lot.
I think the only additional practice I did was talking in Japanese. I speak in Japanese with my husband, but he generally doesn’t understand because he is much farther behind in NihongoMaster. And I send messages to my students. They either want to speak in English or we do our messages twice, once in English and once in Japanese, so that we can help each other improve.