Over 360 students write the Japanese Language Proficiency Test at York

Over 360 students converged at York University on Dec. 7 to write the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) hosted by York’s Japanese Studies Program on behalf of the Japan Foundation.

“I was particularly pleased that almost half of them wrote the two higher-level tests,” says Norio Ota, who teaches in York’s Japanese Studies Program and is the JLPT coordinator. “This is a good indication that the Japanese language education in Canada has been very successful in producing many advanced-level speakers in the past 10 years.”

Left: Students get ready to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test at York

Masayuki Suzuki, director of the Japan Foundation, Toronto, gave the opening address and oversaw the test with his staff. Proctors from various Ontario universities as well as many Japanese exchange students were also brought in to act as assistants during the test. “I received very positive feedback from the Japan Foundation Toronto and some of the participants,” says Ota.

The number of higher-level students taking the JLPT “also coincides with the increase in the number of quality students in our Japanese program at York,” says Ota, adding that for the first time, more students registered for the JLPT in Toronto this year than in Vancouver.

The Japan Foundation is planning to overhaul the test in the next few years by adding the highest-level category and administering the test twice annually. 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 often required for work and study opportunities in Japan and in other countries where Japanese is spoken.

Right: Students arrive at York to register for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test

The Japan Foundation has been administering the annual test to evaluate and certify the language proficiency of primarily non-native speakers of Japanese around the world since 1984. Some 7,000 participants took the first test worldwide. Since then the numbers have grown to over 524,000. At York, 155 students took the test in 1997. That figure is now closer to 400.

The JLPT continues to grow all over the world and is administered in more than 70 countries, including India, Australia, Bolivia, Mexico, Italy, Russia and Kenya.

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.