Why Native Level is a Misleading Standard — 17 Comments

  1. I completely agree with the thinking behind this. Native speaker doesn’t really mean that much. My niece and nephew are native speakers, and although I’m sure they have things to teach me, as there are loads of words that all kids know and adults rarely use that I haven’t been exposed to, I definitely do not want to sound like them when I talk! There are also a lot of native speakers whose Japanese you definitely should not aspire to (unless you want to sound like a complete idiot!)

    • Exactly. Gotta focus on what you want to achieve and what is important to you.

      “Child Japanese” is definitely an interesting topic of its own.

  2. You must have read my comment about native level elsewhere ;)

    Obviously I think this change makes a lot of sense, and it preserves the same level scale we are all used to.

  3. I agree with the changes :-) The differences in language abilities and proficiencies between native speakers are too varied.

  4. I like it, but if I’m not mistaken, level 20 used to suggest 2042 kanji. Now only 1000, but one should be close to 2000 before attempting the intermediate deck right? Or did I just level up again!

    • You probably did level up again. レベルアップおめでとうございます~

      I lowered it to 1000 (pushed the 2000 kanji back to level 30) because I felt that it was being too strict. Not everyone uses RTK, and even for those who do not everyone uses it straight from the beginning. So I wanted to create some leeway for people not to feel the need to master all the kanji before hitting 20.

  5. I sometimes use “native” to describe someone’s first language, but there’s another problem with it: it seems to imply that you are born knowing your first language, that you somehow acquired it without frustration, hours upon hours of correction, years struggling to read and write, being corrected, reading for fun or for work, and on and on (to differing extents, and in different areas, depending on the person) until you can write extremely long sentences that seem like they will never stop—until they do!

    • Haha exactly.

      There is also an exaggerated assumption that all natives are good at their own language.

  6. To be honest, there is a kid that just came from France 3 months ago and his english is better than some ‘native speakers’ in my school. He is in honors english and has the 3rd highest average. The only problem with him is the very occasional awkward phrasing which he is able to correct himself and his pronounciation is very lackluster. This gives me reassurance that I can hit ‘fluent’ and even better with Japanese. I think J-J really helps you get there because then you start to exclude the english translation part in your mind aka quicker and more natural response.

    • That depends completely on the goals of you (or the person you are referencing). Ask yourself what you want from studying Japanese, and then what level you need to get there.

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