Recently I’ve begun to think that even if I reached the JLPT 1級 level, it wouldn’t be enough. Not so long ago I used to regard 1級 as a level so high that to reach it your Japanese would have to be almost flawless – almost native level.

Of course, I haven’t even reached this level yet, so I may not even have the right to say these things, but with a little (ok, quite a bit) of effort, I feel that 70% should be manageable by the end of next year. And to achieve that, it’s not like you have to understand every word written on the exam paper. Would I be content for my Japanese ability to stay at that level? I don’t think so.

It’s true that we tend to set new goals when we reach our old ones, and in this case it’s obvious that I am doing this a little early. But so what? In a few years, I would expect my Japanese to be far better than now. There is far more beyond getting 70% on the 1級 paper.

One of my main goals has not changed, and I have a feeling I will be chasing it forever. This is because for me it’s practically unattainable. I’d like to be able to speak Japanese almostly perfectly. I am not talking about using impressive words, nor about using incredibly difficult grammar, but about talking with near perfect accent and intonation.

How long will that take to even come close to that aim, especially given the fact that I need not use Japanese in my everyday life these days? True, I may use plain style Japanese with friends now and then but when will I ever practice speaking keigo? Still, a worthy, if not challenging goal to aim for.


  1. Why is this your long term goal, by the way?

  2. 私も英検(ご存知ですね?)1級に受かれば自由に英語が使えるかと思っていました。でも受かってみればここからスタートなのだとわかりました。日本に住んでいて、仕事で英語を使うわけでもなくこれ以上どうしたらいいのかと思うこともありますが、まだまだ学ぶべきことがあるということは挑戦しがいがあるということですから。がんばってくださいね。

  3. All the info here will be really useful when I prepare for Level 1 next year.
    In reference to “perfect intonation and accent”, would you be referring to the Tokyo accent or the Osaka accent?
    I realised that the only people who speak near flawless Japanese are the radio DJs. Ordinary Japanese dont speak like that at all.

  4. Have you listened to radio DJs in Japan? None of those guys speak proper Japanese at all.
    Proper so-called standard Japanese is what you hear on NHK news.

  5. Well, I was talking about one of my long term goals in the post. I guess you could define my goals as being almost native level in all aspects of the language – reading, writing (one day by hand as well as pc?), listening… What I am aiming for is natural sounding language.