The book I use to study 2級 grammar from is called JLPT 実力アップ! 文法編 2級 (松本 節子, 星野 恵子). As the JLPT (日本語能力試験) is but a couple of short months away, I’ve started working from this book. When I first opened it I was a little overwhelmed by the 191 grammar points.
However, after looking in the table of contents I was heartened a little. The main reason for this was that much of the grammar I’d picked up since the last exam, mainly just through living in Japan rather than actually studying, was detailed in this book. It’s great when you discovery grammar for yourself and then formalise it later with a book.
Another reason I was happy was that many grammar points that I didn’t understand but that I had heard on a daily basis were all laid out and ready to be understood.
That being said, the vast majority of the grammar in the book is new to me. I’m going to describe my way of learning 2級 grammar from this book and other sources. Whether I’ll be successful or not still remains to be seen.
As my book has grammar points labelled from 1-191 in あいうえお order, it might be tempting to just attempt each grammar point in order. This has the advantage that you can do the practice questions at the end of each section of 20 or so grammar points.
However, in earlier sections of the book the answer can be too obvious due the fact that the answers will always be grammar points covered before the page you are on. In other words you can eleminate all of the multiple choice grammar points which you’ve never seen before that come up later in the book.
Also, many of these bogus answers are often similar in meaning to the real answer. This means that if you’ve studied the whole book, the questions will be of more use to you because you really have to know the meaning of each point.
One advantage of studying the points in order is that you would have a good idea of how far you are through the book.
However, this kind of method is a bit monotonous and would seriously get too boring too quickly. So my first stage was to look in the contents to find the grammar I mentioned above, to reiterate, grammar which:
①I was already on my way to understanding &
②grammar I wanted to learn.
Concentrating on type ① grammar builds confidence while type ② grammar is easier to learn because motivation is high.
If you know you aren’t going to have time to learn every grammar point listed on the 2級 syllabus then there is another serious disadvantage to the ‘each point in-order’ method.
Someone with limited time giving themself a crash course in grammar for the test – quite a large number of people I’d imagine – needs to concentrate on the most important grammar points, that is, the grammar that appears most frequently in the test.
So with ① & ② points done, I found out about this ‘efficient’ learning method from a friend. Her grammar book has points listed in order of frequency of appearance in the JLPT tests and not in あいうえお order! What a great book! The book is named 日本語能力試験に出る文法2級 I’ll find out the title and post it here later. So, I wrote down the most frequently tested points and made sure I covered them.
Looking at my black and white book of grammar points was depressing at times. Though it goes against my princple of not spoiling books, I reached for my new high-lighter pens.
My colour system was pretty simple. In short I used different colours to highlight different types text. For example, I use green for grammar, and purple for words/kanji to be remembered. High-lighting like this will help me when I review each point later, but there is another reason why I recommend doing it.
Slowly but surely your dull looking book will turn become delightfully colourful. I find it realy satisfying to see my progress when I flick and see how much highlighting there is. Try it for yourself.
Fill in Gaps
With that done there were still a large number of grammar points untouched. Often, I avoided points that looked difficult in order to ‘knock out the easy ones first’. This is a good idea because there is no point in giving yourself a headache looking at the same page for hours on end with no progress. If you leave it and see it a few times as time passes, the meaning might start to become apparent; or you can wait till you meet someone who can help you; you’ll end up saving lots of time.
I’ve been working quite solid for about a month now and I’ve finally understood and highlighted each and every grammar point. However, during the entire time I have not tried to force myself to remember the grammar, only to understand it. This is one of my key ideas.
Now I’ve started the next phase in my plan. This is basically to answer every question in my book! Seeing more and more examples of grammar will give me a better insight into its meaning and usage. This is the stage where I actually want the grammar to sink into my memory.
Like I mentioned earlier, there are often similar looking answers to choose from. Having convered all of the points before attempting most of the questions, I hope to not only find the correct answer, but to reinforce the meanings of all the red-herrings too. The great thing about the book I’m using is that it tells you the relevant page in the book for each of the multiple choice answers.
To keep things fresh I will reveal the final ace up my sleeve. Head over to the MLC Meguro School’s download page, head half-way down the page and you’ll find a wealth of JLPT information, not just about grammar. This helped me out during my preparation for the 3級 test last December and trust me, it can help you too.
You should be able to find a document which lists the major grammar points that have appeared on the actual JLPT tests during the past few years. This could be useful for people who want to find the grammar which regularly appears but who can’t get their hands on the book my friend has.
I’m not sure if I’ll have time to finish all of the tasks I’ve set myself concerning prepartion for the grammar part of the JLPT. However, I’m confident that I’m using my time farily effectively and hope that I’ll be ready enough when December comes.