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Is it true that even natives Japanese people will struggle on JLPT N1?

#1
Hi, i'm new here, and i have a question because concerning some people views about JLPT, i was quite surprised; there was someone who told me that jlpt N1 was difficult to the point even japanese people can have trouble with it, and that there 's japanese taking the test who don't pass it. Told me something about 40% of japanese people failing it.

Actually i found it very strange since it is said by the standard of the test, that JLPT is intented for non native speakers; so...why would native even bother to take it?...
he said that some of them were required to do it for job purposes, and that even in high school some of them would have to take it.

Moreover, there was someone taking japanese at college, who told me that one or some japanese teachers says that there is japanese people who took jlpt and fail.

Is it true?If it's not i would like to figure why people are thinking that.
I have already heard about this statement that it is even hard for japanese, but i this is the first time i heard some who says 40% of the japanese taking the test would fail it. If it is true, that's quite puzzling.
Edited: 2012-12-06, 6:46 am
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#2
It's not true, this person was pulling your leg. JLPT N1 just corresponds to vaguely passable reading and listening literacy and could be easily passed by most 14 year olds given the low pass mark.
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#3
I know someone who took it just to see what they'd get, and they scored about 75%. I think it'd be tough for any half-educated Japanese to fail it. The reading is far easier than the university entrance exam 国語 section, and that's the only challenging part of the test, since there's nothing like any form of production required. I wouldn't expect everyone to get 90-100% simply because taking any lengthy exam requires preparation and familiarity with the format. I'd bet a large number of English speakers would fair about the same on TOEIC and co.

Are you sure your friend wasn't talking about 漢検? I can't imagine how JLPT would be valuable for anyone who isn't a foreigner. It shows that you have a basic level of passive fluency and little else, and this can be assumed for anyone who graduated from a Japanese high school.
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#4
Javizy, that person was japanese?
i don't know about the 漢検, but it seems that he talked about the jlpt, because he also told me he knew 3 people who take it (they were non native) and they said that the exam was ridiculously tricky because of the archaic grammatical forms and non usual vocabulary.i don't know when they had the test so maybe it was the old version,i know the test have been modified in 2010... but yeah he argued that (don't know his sources) japanese people could have to pass this test for some occasions and that they should try to get a score above 110 (if i am well remembering he said this too, but still i don't know his sources) maybe it is the '"japanese" term and actually the people concerned were not japanese natives but instead japanese born and schooled in foreign countries...otherwise i don't understand why he said that to me.

or maybe like you said, people are mistaking the tests?...i find it strange , that, as i said before, my other friend, told me about one or some of his teachers (i don't know if they were natives) who says too that some japanese fail it. (my friend is not studying in japan)

so...i am wondering why there is this kind of myth associated with this N1 level...even for native talking about it, because of the japanese modesty they will not say it is easy for them to not discourage foreign learners?
Edited: 2012-12-06, 7:52 am
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#5
Honestly, apart from the raised overseas hypothesis you mention, I don't see any kind of reason why would any Japanese bother taking the JLPT, admitting they're even allowed to (I think I saw this rule somewhere). It's like asking a native English speaker to take the TOIEC.
Edited: 2012-12-06, 8:04 am
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#6
If Japanese people fail the JLPT it's because it's hard as a native to think of your own language in such a manner (in which you actively thing grammar points, or what not), nothing more than that. I think the JLPT would be easier for a Japanese person than say, the English certificates would be for a native English speaker, though...
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#7
I'm pretty sure any Japanese person in high school or older who isn't a complete idiot could almost perfectly pass the JLPT 1 without much effort. Most of the "archaic grammar" is used in business even today and thus makes its way into dramas and movies that feature business situations. It's not like Shakespeare or anything.
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#8
Basically, any Japanese of high school age or higher could pass the test, and the vast vast vast majority with flying colors. I showed a lot of questions to some very dopey but refreshingly not-so-modest Japanese people (my ex girlfriend's yankee friends, all 18-20 years old, mostly got jobs out of high school), and they could get everything right quickly and with no problems at all. The one exception was the grammar questions where you had to put four things in order. They found about 90% of them quite easy but a few took some time and there were even a couple that they weren't sure about.

And, yeah, I've shown a lot of people N1 problems. Co-workers, students, friends, girlfriends. It's easy for all of them, though they probably wouldn't say that. Also, before I show them the problems they have no idea what the test is (in fact, few of them can remember the name 日本語能力試験. Most of them immediately switch it to 日本語検定 when they bring it up to me. The JLPT is by no means well-known to natives).

And yeah, though it might be depressing to learners who are far below N1 level, there is NO archaic grammar on N1. All N1 grammar is common.
Edited: 2012-12-06, 8:20 am
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#9
The idea that N1 or the old level 1 has "archaic grammar" is an old myth spread by learners, and possibly by native speakers too who tend to overuse the "oh, we never say this" as a form of "日本語お上手ですね". There is grammar on N1 that is rarely used in everyday, casual conversation. But there's nothing on there that's archaic or even super-rare.

There is some tricky stuff on there and I wouldn't be surprised to see even an educated native speaker get something wrong on the test, but they won't even come close to failing it.
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#10
ok, seems i was trolled or something like that...:/ ..whatever...

but for the last part, if the natives are not familiar with this test and switch to 日本語検定 that could explain something...i checked and i assume 日本語検定 is much more difficult than jlpt ? (since it is a test designed for natives?)
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#11
Ceras Wrote:ok, seems i was trolled or something like that...:/ ..whatever...
That's probably too negative a way of looking at it. More like there was some serious miscommunication, probably based on cultural differences, the language barrier, and some general confusion (If people were talking about taking the test in high school or for a job, they were definitely talking about a different test. No question about it.).
Edited: 2012-12-06, 9:25 am
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#12
A Japanese native failing the JLPT N1 is like an English native failing the TOEFL or TOEIC.
I feel sorry for the Japanese natives that can't pass N1.
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#13
Or they were just modest and/or misinformed regarding the test (how much do you know about the CPE? I assume that's about how much they know about the JLPT).
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#14
I think there's a good likelihood your friend was confusing the JLPT with the 日本語検定 (which is intended for native speakers). I think most Japanese people will assume they are the same thing if you mention the JLPT in a conversation.
Edited: 2012-12-06, 9:48 am
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#15
Or like someone said the Kanken because I know most people fail Level 1...and I'm the moron trying to attempt it. That test I would think more than even the kokugo tests have the most archaic stuff...considering that's what the majority of the Level 1 Kanken is.
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#16
I spoke to the (native) person I mentioned again today, and she said it was the reading section she got 75% on - the rest of the test was trivial. My impression of the reading was that it didn't test your reading ability as much as your ability to deal with tedious, contrived, reverse double-bluff trick questions, so I'm not so surprised that natives wouldn't score 100%. I'm sure it would be very possible if they did a few practice tests to prepare though.

JimmySeal Wrote:I think there's a good likelihood your friend was confusing the JLPT with the 日本語検定 (which is intended for native speakers). I think most Japanese people will assume they are the same thing if you mention the JLPT in a conversation.
This is likely. When trying to explain what 日本語能力試験 is to Japanese people, they often say 日本語検定 in my experience. I don't know why people would be aware of the JLPT unless they have foreigner friends who like to talk about it.
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#17
Guys, be careful.

There's actually an exam called 日本語検定.
http://www.nihongokentei.jp/

It's like a JLPT for native speakers.
I've read the textbook at Kinokuniya.
Edited: 2012-12-06, 1:46 pm
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#18
Tzadeck Wrote:And yeah, though it might be depressing to learners who are far below N1 level, there is NO archaic grammar on N1. All N1 grammar is common.
Sure thing it is :/
lol
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#19
undead_saif Wrote:
Tzadeck Wrote:And yeah, though it might be depressing to learners who are far below N1 level, there is NO archaic grammar on N1. All N1 grammar is common.
Sure thing it is :/
lol
It really is. >< I've run across every single piece of N1 grammar that I studied in the past by reading and listening in daily life. The JLPT N1's difficulty stems from the fact that it is so incredibly.. normal (to a Japanese person). Yeah if you aren't familiar with the test format/are bad at test-taking etc etc you can expect to get a lower score than you'd like but the trick to passing N1 is to have a firm command of the language.

One of my professors at Kobe University used to say "The N1 is created in such a way that the average Japanese high-schooler can pass with flying colors" (Or something to that effect in Japanese. He didn't know English. DSmile and I believe him.
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#20
(And I agree that Japanese people are either 1. confusing the JLPT with the 日本語検定 or 2. are stuck in the myth that their language is impossible to learn - when they say that even natives would have a hard time. However, this is a phrase that you hear from time to time for sure.)
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#21
yudantaiteki Wrote:The idea that N1 or the old level 1 has "archaic grammar" is an old myth spread by learners, and possibly by native speakers too who tend to overuse the "oh, we never say this" as a form of "日本語お上手ですね". There is grammar on N1 that is rarely used in everyday, casual conversation. But there's nothing on there that's archaic or even super-rare.
It might be just a case of ambiguous wording and that fact that people don't typically use perfectly precise words in casual conversation. For eg, Japanese might be honestly and accurately saying that "they never say this" and the listener hears "we never use this."

Or when people use the term "archaic", they might mean "impractical" or "a relatively uncommon form that shows up only in certain written genres that learners are unlikely to encounter or don't need at that level." lol But "archaic" might mean something specific to linguist types or mean "obsolete" to others. And if someone says every pattern is "common", what exactly does that mean? "Frequent, everyday use"? Existing in modern Japanese?" Surely, there's plenty of room for something between "archaic" and "common".

I think the general sentiment is just that if language competence is the goal, those less common written items should be low priority. We tend to find it odd when language learners know a pile of relatively uncommon words and grammar constructions, yet still haven't developed basic conversation skills. Hence, the "you don't need to know that" response.
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#22
I'm a Japanese American that already had native speaking fluency. I just studied kanji and sat for the N1 this week. JLPT1 is trivial. If a native had issues with it, it was probably just because that person is not very good at reading comprehension, but that's more a matter of critical thinking/logic skills than linguistic skill. My English reading comprehension skills are fine, so that directly translated into Japanese reading comprehension.

It's pretty much the same for the other way around as well. I took 英検1級, and it's more or less the same as JLPT1, except it has an interview and essay section. Those two parts probably make Eiken a more difficult exam for those that aren't very experienced with production. Though, if you want to know how doing the JLPT1 feels like to a native, go check out the previous exam questions available on the official Eiken site. An average clever middle-school student should be able to pass it, and there's no reason for an average high-school student to not steamroll it.
Edited: 2012-12-08, 10:46 pm
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#23
Wow, this thread has finally solved the mystery for me. Japanese people think I'm talking about 日本語検定 when I'm talking about the JLPT. Explains a lot of things.
Edited: 2012-12-09, 9:18 am
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#24
I don't think that 日本語検定 is that famous though... its resources take up far less space in the typical bookshop than JLPT books and I haven't met anyone who's taken it.
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#25
dizmox Wrote:I don't think that 日本語検定 is that famous though... its resources take up far less space in the typical bookshop than JLPT books and I haven't met anyone who's taken it.
Which book stores are you talking about? At least in Kyoto the majority of book stores have 日本語検定 books but very few have 日本語能力試験 books. In fact, the only two books stores I've found that have JLPT books are the AOI in 西院 and the Jukundo on 川原町. And there is a book store every twenty feet in Kyoto, it seems.

Of course, this makes sense, since the JLPT is for foreigners and the 日本語検定 is for Japanese people. Most book stores in Japan, especially outside of Tokyo, don't have a section geared towards foreigners.
Edited: 2012-12-09, 9:51 am
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