mutley Wrote:Sorry but I don't see how having a JLPT certificate could possibly be a disadvantage on your resume. Sure it is very limited in what it tests and the level to which it tests but there still seem to be plenty of companies that quote it or an equivalent level when they are recruiting.
The impression I get is that most companies assess applicants Japanese ability through interviews and possibly their own tests taken at the same time anyway so they maybe use JLPT merely as a guide to show that someone is worth interviewing.
Yes JLPT 1 isn't some sort of magic level that entitles you to a job in Japan, but there are also plenty of people who do manage to get jobs using Japanese without reaching that level. It depends so much on the individual's skills and the job type that it's hard to generalise.
People shouldn't delude themselves over what the JLPT 1 means but equally people shouldn't exaggerate about how it is 'just the beginning' or 'next to useless'.
Anyone who passes JLPT 1 should be proud of themselves, just remember that there is still plenty to learn (especially is you only just passed).
I can tell you exactly how it hurts. Having the JLPT on your résumé means your level(theoretical "your," not yours as in mutley's the person I'm responding to) is low enough that you think the JLPT actually matters, and that you have very little career experience with Japanese. People who've worked as translators for 10 years don't have to put their JLPT1 cert on their résumé because they've got 10 years worth of work and a pile of references that can vouch for their ability.
You're correct that it's listed a lot as part of hiring requirements, but that's really only there to allow them to throw away applications. Companies have their own tests, interviews, and hiring procedures that they rely on more than they rely on the JLPT. I wouldn't be surprised if the JLPT requirement is selectively enforced. I'm sure simply saying it's required then never checking for it deters a lot of unserious people from applying for various jobs. I've worked at companies where I've been in charge of hiring where I've done this very thing myself with regard to IT certifications, and it's a common hiring practice.
The thinking behind having the JLPT as part of hiring requirements is that it's a fairly cheap test to take, and anyone hoping to do anything with Japanese for a career should be able to pass it fairly easily. It reduces the number of applicants without putting an unreasonable or onerous burden on those applicants. Like I said, it's the bare minimum. So even if a company did want to be sticklers about checking for it when hiring it wouldn't ever be considered unfair.
I know that this is going to come off to some people here like I'm attacking their accomplishments or whatever. I don't mean to do that. Passing the JLPT1 is not a meaningless accomplishment. It takes serious commitment to get that far, and most people give up before ever making it that far. Most people who live and work in Japan even give up before ever making it that far.
However, I think people need to be realistic about what level the JLPT 1 is testing for, and how that compares to native speakers. I see a lot of hyperbole around the internet about people saying the JLPT 1 is so hard that even native speakers couldn't pass it when that simply isn't true. Japanese people will tell you that after looking at your practice materials, but that's simply Japanese people being overly nice.
Japanese people don't realize how many kanji they actually know, and few of them actually know anything about JLPT test levels. They compare it to 英検 or TOEIC in their minds, and most of us Japanese learners who know nothing about 英検 or TOEIC don't realize how the JLPT is different. We don't realize that the amount of competition among English-speakers and the sheer number of English speakers in the world raises the bar beyond what is usually required of foreign Japanese speakers usually. Some of the content 英検 and TOEIC tests does indeed surpass the level of a lot of native English speakers, but the JLPT is just not that way.
Japanese people are also conditioned through their experiences to think their language is hard. Some of this is mild racism or nationalism, but a good portion of it is also pragmatism. Japanese people are used to dealing with foreigners in their country that simply can't do Japanese. Or, they meet people who can do survival Japanese and small polite conversations, but can't read anything past hiragana/katakana/simple kanji. The number of people like those of us posting here in this thread setting our goals at eventually achieving JLPT1 are extraordinarily rare in Japan.
As an example, I teach English on the JET program. The Japanese part of my job is officially completely optional, but my skills are much appreciated by my co-workers. My level of Japanese is more than sufficient for the job that I do, and I most likely failed JLPT 1 this past weekend. I can tell you honestly that I should have failed because my Japanese level isn't high enough. If you were to ask my co-workers, though, they would tell you they think my Japanese level is off-the-charts amazing because they're comparing me to all the other foreigners they've ever met in Japan.
They constantly ask me why I'm so worried about my Japanese level and why I study so much when from their perspective everything seems golden. I do these things because I have to. Their understanding of my level is wrong. My Japanese needs serious work.
The dichotomy here that makes talking about this difficult in an online forum like this is that Japanese is a very popular language that most people don't have the stomach for. Hell, most Americans don't have the stomach for learning any foreign language let alone Japanese. So talk and low levels of proficiency are cheap in discussion forums like these. It seems like people hit a wall with their studying where they stop around the N2 level of proficiency, and then don't come back to it. Or...they continue studying, and then end up eventually getting a job that keeps them too busy to discuss studying Japanese on the internet or it saps their interest in doing so.
So because most of the discussion online is happening among people who tend to have low levels of Japanese proficiency who are constantly told by non-Japanese-speakers and Japanese-speakers alike that Japanese is like the hardest language ever there's a tendency to inflate the difficulty and ultimate importance of the JLPT. I think there's a lot of people who just don't know any better.
I think every once in a while it's necessary to remind people that all the jawing and clawing we're doing in order to pass the highest level of this thing leaves us with the same understanding of Japanese as...a reasonably well-educated 14 or 15 year old. Even then, that 14 or 15 year old also has fluent speech, a much better handle on nuts and bolts grammar, and an innate understanding of many idioms.
I'm just trying to give a more realistic description of what the JLPT is for people who may not know. You seem to already understand what I'm saying, and so to you this comes off like I'm harping on this too much or too seriously. There's a lot of people for whom what I'm writing here is going to be a surprise. There's a lot of people that were told for years in discussion forums like this one that just having JLPT2 on your résumé was enough to get your foot in the door at a lot of places.
I think it's important to dispel those notions so that it's clear exactly what kind of accomplishment passing JLPT 1 is and what kind of things come after passing it.
Edited: 2011-12-05, 6:46 am