火曜日, 12月 14, 2004

"Where do you get the word 'Hankyu' out of that?"

    I asked a group of noisy boys in my class this question as they were giggling and saying the word "Hankyu," the name of a private railroad company, while doing my worksheet on winter holidays around the world.
    "Hankyu," said one boy, pointing at "Hanukkah".
    Women's Christmas, Twelfth Night, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, and Winter Solstice were among the other holidays I put on my worksheet for them to identify.
    I'm tired, paying the price today in tiredness for my enjoyment of "Howl's Moving Castle" and a late dinner last night. I went to see it in Akashi with Takashi, not noticing the rhyme until later. First, though, I had some time to browse in the Junkudo bookstore at Akashi station. I didn't know there was a Junkudo there! It's almost as big as the ones in Sannomiya. I've been thinking about taking one of the kanji kentei tests, so last night I bought my first book to study for it. I decided to take level 3. The kanji kentei differs from language tests I've taken before in that it's designed for native speakers of Japanese. Therefore, I expect it to be both trickier and more thorough than the tests designed for learners of Japanese as a second language. Here are the sections included in Level 3:

Providing the readings for kanji used in sentences
Identifying and naming the radical of a particular kanji
Constructing kanji compounds
Okurigana - accompanying hiragana to use with kanji
Selecting synonyms and antonyms
3-character compounds and 4-character compounds
Identifying kanji mistakes
Writing the kanji, when given the hiragana

If I succeed at this level, I plan to try the next two levels - 準2級 (pre-2nd level) and 2級 (second level). The bar for passing is fairly high, though - 70%. Is anyone interested in taking on this challenge with me? C'mon, it will be fun...
    And did you know that if the whole family passes the kanji kentei (3-6 members), you get a special certificate from the Ministry of Education? It's true!
   This test was created because Japanese people themselves are forgetting kanji. They can read them, they can choose them from menus on the mobile phone or word processing program, but the ability to write kanji is diminishing each year. Today's students know fewer kanji than their parents did at that age, who knew fewer than their parents, who knew fewer than their parents. It's a crisis. In promoting the kanji kentei test, the Ministry of Education tells us that "kanji get more interesting the more you study them," and the website has testimonials by students and adults who discovered a lifetime love affair with kanji while preparing for the test.
    Is it true? Will I fall in love with kanji by studying for this test? I'll find out. I mean, I already like kanji. But I'm not a kanji fanatic or anything. Really, I'm not. They are more of a means to an end. I'm always looking for the magic bullet that will help me read Japanese novels more easily.
    I'm trying to think of something to say about "Howl's Moving Castle" that hasn't already been said, trying to sweep the non-sequiters from my mind like cobwebs. Yes, it's wonderful, it satisfies your need for Miyazaki's cute weird excesses of fancy. There's an antiwar theme, but the overall tone is rather upbeat. I liked the characters a lot.


  • At 7:59 午後, Blogger Matt said…

    I'm in love with kanji, but it's an abusive relationship.

    What's "Women's Christmas"?

  • At 2:01 午前, Blogger Evelyn said…

    Test above level 7 start to look hard already... i should be shamed because i know all the words in chinese, but i don't know the reading in japanese... i might try for level 5 - call myself a elementary school graduate if i can =b

  • At 8:54 午前, Blogger butterflyblue said…

    Women's Christmas is an Irish holiday when men do all the household chores and the women can rest. It's on January 6. I researched the holidays for the worksheet by looking at Wikipedia's "Christmas-linked holidays"
    One interesting thing about this list that it includes some that were created on TV, like Seinfeld's "Festivus." I didn't include those on the worksheet, though.

    Evelyn- がんばって! If you know them in Chinese, you know the stroke order (which I always mess up) --learning the readings isn't that hard. Can you take the kanji kentei where you live?

  • At 9:15 午前, Blogger Matt said…

    Heh, so men slacked off all year, then did a single day's worth of housework and it's as big a deal as Christmas? You know what I would call that instead of "Women's Christmas"? "Sucker's Christmas". ;)

  • At 10:37 午前, Blogger dadsweb said…

    I did level 4 a couple of months ago and am planning to do level 3 and possibly pre level 2 in January if all goes well. I've got to admit when you get into kanji learning is fairly addictive. Doing the study for the test really helps with you vocab and writing. I find the "pick the wrong kanji in a sentence and write it correctly" section the most difficult. Have you tried any of the practice exams for level 3 yet?

  • At 3:17 午後, Blogger butterflyblue said…

    Hehe, see my next post.
    I'm happy you're studying for level 3 too. Maybe we can help each other. It's tricky tricky!

  • At 9:53 午前, Blogger dadsweb said…

    That would be cool if we could help each other. I think you're brave starting at 三級. My kanji writing was so rusty I started at 八級 at the start of last year and worked my way up to passing 4級 in December. I recommend the books of previous exams that the kanken org puts out. They really give you a good idea of where you are at. Some of the other books of problems are much more difficult than the exams themselves and leave you feeling a bit depressed about your own abilities.

  • At 10:26 午前, Blogger butterflyblue said…

    Thanks, I do want to buy that book of previous exams. I should take one of the real tests, check my score, and then decide whether to register for the Jan 30 one or wait until June. How much do you think you can bring your score up in a month of study? I'm going on vacation soon, and I don't really want to lug my kanken books with me to Taiwan.

    Do you have any suggestions for studying 四字熟語? How did you study them for the 4kyuu test, and were the questions hard? I don't know the meanings of very many of them, and can write even fewer.
    I got 3 out of 10 on one of the practice sections I did (I think I'll post it today).

    So you've passed 5 kanji kentei tests so far? Congratulations! I really admire you. You must be able to write so many kanji :)

    I'm realizing that there are many easy ones I can't write, so maybe I should have started much lower down the ladder, but practicing writing "easy" kanji is kind of boring, so I guess I thought I'd be more motivated by starting close to my reading level. I exchange a Japanese diary with my Japanese tutor (日記交換)so hopefully that will help me to practice writing those easier kanji.

  • At 1:21 午後, Blogger dadsweb said…

    Actually I've only done the 8,5,4 exams and skipped them for 6 and 7, although I worked through the books for all of them. I have a little 四字熟語 dictionary called 四字熟語実用辞典, which has been pretty good and only cost 600yen or so. The kanken guys put out another book called 漢検分野別問題集 which has a list of 四字熟語 relevant to the level you are doing. You could photocopy those couple of pages and work your way through them while you are travelling.

    Enjoy Taiwan, it is a wonderful country to visit if you like grand scenery, scrumptious food, Chinese art etc.

  • At 9:35 午後, Blogger butterflyblue said…

    Thank you. I bought that book. It looks like it has a lot of helpful information. Now I have three of the yellow books, and a new dictionary.
    Good luck on your studies, thanks for reading my blog!

  • At 11:52 午後, Blogger dadsweb said…

    Gambatte! We will have to compare notes in six weeks time. I really enjoy the blog. Do keep it up!



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