Online applications now available for Japanese Language Proficiency Test

Every year, several hundred people from PEI to Saskatchewan come to York to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) and this year is no exception.

Applications for the test are already being taken. Applicants can apply online – a first this year – until Oct. 3, for the Dec. 7 test. The online application system is designed to help streamline the process.

Left: Students take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test at York

The JLPT offers people an opportunity to further their study and work options, says Norio Ota, JLPT coordinator. The JLPT was held at York for the first time in 1997 on behalf of the Japan Foundation and is a joint event of Japanese language professionals at several Ontario universities.

Since 1984, the Japan Foundation has been administering the annual test around the world to evaluate and certify the language proficiency of primarily non-native speakers of Japanese. Some 7,000 participants took the first test worldwide. Since then the numbers of people taking the test has grown to over 524,000. At York, the number of participants taking the test has increased from 155 in 1997 to close to 400 last year. Some participants make the trek from New York and Michigan.

The JLPT is divided into four levels of ability. Level 1 is the most difficult while Level 4 is the easiest. Each test has three sections: character-vocabulary, listening, and reading-grammar. It is the only proficiency test officially recognized worldwide. A Level 2 or higher is required for various opportunities in Japan and elsewhere where Japanese is spoken as well as for scholarships and admittance to some university programs. The number of students wishing to learn Japanese continues to grow, says Ota.

Right: Students register for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test in York’s Vari Hall

The JLPT helps students to assess how much they have learned, their strengths and their weaknesses. It also gives them short-term objectives to achieve for those planning to use their proficiency in Japanese for study and work opportunities. In addition, it gives learners of Japanese a great incentive to continue studying.

To apply online for the JLPT, visit the Japanese Language Proficiency Test 2008 Web site. For those not able to access the online application, contact Norio Ota at

The JLPT will be held on Dec. 7, from 9am to 2:30pm, in Vari Hall, Keele campus.

Test preparation materials such as language textbooks, audio-visual aids and previous tests are available from The Japan Foundation, Toronto library for loan. York is one of only three test locations in Canada. The other two are in Edmonton and Vancouver.