Hello World

As I am a programmer and geek at heart I figured that the best way to start this JLPT journey was to follow in the great programmer’s tradition of making a “hello world” script.

JLPT N5を勉強したいています。

Learnt so far

What I have learnt so far is:

  • In Japanese sentences are structured as Subject Object Verb, this differs from the English Subject Verb Object that I am used to.

    In English I would say “I ran home“, in Japanese it would be 「私は家に走った」(watashi wa ie ni hashitta) [maybe, assuming I am correct with my phrase].

  • In Japanese, there are politeness levels. There are three main levels in spoken Japanese.
    • The plain form (kudaketa),
    • The simple polite form (teinei), and
    • The Advanced polite form (keigo)

Relationships between people are based around each other’s position. Based on their job, age, experience, etc. The person in the lower position is expected to use a more polite level of speech whilst the higher position may use a more plain form of speech. Two strangers would speak politely to each other.

  • How you conjugate verbs will depend on the level of politeness you need to speak.
    • For teinei, adding -masu or using desu can be sufficient,
    • For keigo there are further rules including adding the prefix o or go to nouns and adding the suffix san to people’s names.

There are four ways to write:

  • The two kanas, a logographic writing system that makes up the syllables that form part of the writing system
    • Hiragana – is a cursive syllabary. You can technically write everything using hiragana however, it is common to use it for native Japanese words.
    • Katakana – is an angular syllabary. It contains the same syllables as hiragana however, it is used to write foreign words and can be used to add a ‘cool’ stylist look to native words especially in marketing.
    • Kanji – adopted logographic Chinese characters that are used in the Japanese writing system. Kanji is used together with hiragana and katakana.
    • Rōmaji – is a Latin script used to write Japanese characters.

About JLPT and Timeline

The Japanese Language Proficiency Test is a test performed twice a year worldwide for Japanese students.

There are five levels of proficiency that test students reading, vocabulary, grammar, and listening comprehension. These range from N5 to N1 and are referred to as JLPT N5, JLPT N4, etc…

  • JLPT N5 – The student has the ability to understand some basic Japanese (easiest),
  • JLPT N4 – The student has the ability to understand basic Japanese,
  • JLPT N3 – The student has the ability to understand everyday Japanese to a certain degree,
  • JLPT N2 – The student has the ability to understand everyday Japanese in a variety of circumstances to a certain degree,
  • JLPT N1 – The student has the ability to understand Japanese used in a variety of circumstances (most difficult).

There is are two testing dates, Sunday 5th July 202 and Sunday 6th December 2020 with registration for the test dates opening a few months prior.


I am currently using the free apps DuoLingo, Drops, and HelloTalk along with various web sites to practice.

  • DuoLingo state that their course has been designed within the JF Japanese language education framework (CEFR A1 or the basic ability to communicate) to give a basic level of understanding of Japanese with all the vocabulary and grammar to pass the JLPT at the N5 level.
    So, it will be interesting to see how this works in reality.
  • Drops is similar to a flashcard process where you are given a phrase within a group of phrases for a similar topic etc and a graphic depicting the item and you drill on the phrases.
  • HelloTalk is a social media style application where you are paired up with people studying the same languages as you and you can converse, be corrected, and just put out general statuses.

Both DuoLingo and Drops give you the phrases with a limited explanation, so I am supplementing their drills with further reading.

I plan on obtaining some practice guides and/or workbooks as I progress. Genki 1/2 appears to come highly recommended, along with Clay Boutwell and Clayton MacKnight.


Have you ever travelled outside the country you were born in?

I traveled to the United States of America armed with my Canon PowerShot A400.

I flew SYD – LAX then took a connecting flight to JFK. I stayed at the Ramada Jersey City NJ, it was only a stones throw away from New York City NY, and then from there I caught a bus from Manhattan’s china town and traveled up the New England (I toured Boston MA, New Hampshire NH, Vermont VT, and Maine ME).

In New York City I did all the touristy things – I rode on the subway, walk up and down Manhattan, caught a yellow taxi, went to the 86th floor of the Empire State building, attended the American Museum of Natural History, The Museum of Modern Art, experienced a circle line cruise, and went to the amazing Guggenheim Museum. If you are going here do yourself a favour and buy a New York CityPASS booklet it saves so much time not having to queue up for tickets to enter the sites of NYC.

Then onto Boston, I wasn’t planning on learn anything just wanted a relaxing trip of sightseeing however I was quite impressed with how British Boston was (it makes sense being that colonists from England founded the city, but as an Australian you just get these images from the media of American holding its own American close to its heart and the contrast between NYC and Boston was vast – NYC being the typical America I expected and Boston being like England) and the history of Boston I found really interesting. I saw Privateers (legal pirates) and learnt about the American Revolution, walked past and soaked up the atmosphere of some great colleges – Harvard (call me a snob or a WASP if you must but there is something amount the idea of having an Ivy League degree is so romantic – come on Mark Zuckerberg went there), MIT (some of the greatest ‘geeks’ of all time have walked through those hallways including Buzz Aldrin, Robert Metcalfe, and Ray Tomlinson just to name a few), Boston U (Alexander Graham Bell, Martin Luther King, Jr. need I say more?).

Whilst in Maine I stayed at Freeport for a few days at a delightful suite called Apple Wood Inn just a short walking distance from all the factory outlet shopping fun Freeport has to offer. The gardens were lovely & I felt I was really made to feel welcome, the breakfast was on another level of yum! If you are ever if Freeport give it a try – Jay and his team really know how to make you feel comfortable. http://www.applewoodusa.com/ 

It was the middle of Autumn (or as it is called over there Fall) when I went there were however still plenty of flowers in bloom & the colours were lovely.