Yesterday Gboy and I went to the YMCA where I took an assessment test in order to determine where I best fit in their Japanese language classes. The program has six levels. Step 1 is for beginners with zero Japanese language skills while step 6 is supposed to be advanced enough that after completion one could attain a Level 1 or 2 on the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test. I'm not looking for that kind of proficiency - just some day-to-day survival skills!
We walked in and inquired at the front desk or I should say, my husband inquired. The nice lady asked me if I had studied Japanese before, and although I was pretty sure I knew what she was asking of me, I suddenly started to panic. I think the testing anxiety had already started to affect me. As much as I would have liked to think my skills were still fairly close to an intermediate level, the inquiry at the front desk should have been a red flag.
Nevertheless, onward we went. The administrator gave me my test materials along with several pencils, an eraser and a pencil sharpener. How thorough! She asked if I could read hiragana and katakana since the test is written in a combination of both. I confidently assured her I could. She escorted me to a testing room and explained the test to me. I had one hour to work on the test. After she left I started reading the first question.
I was stumped right from the start. The farther into the test I went the more comical it became. Do they have remedial Japanese? I struggled through the test for an hour. At the end of the hour I had finished only half of the exam; I began to think we had wasted an hour and I could simply have told them to start me at Step 1 as I clearly need a LOT of help! And as I looked at the test I realized THIS is why I'm struggling - everyone around me is speaking THIS Japanese and I have something else entirely worked out in my brain!! I walked out laughing and thinking I could slink away while they scored my test. Maybe they'd just call me on the phone to tell me how pathetic I am.
I wasn't to get off that easy though. The administrator planned to score my test right away. Gboy and I went to the lobby and sat down to wait. I laughed as I explained to him how difficult the exam had been. After the administrator scored my test she told me that I'm actually somewhere around a Step 2. Since they're in the middle of a term right now. I'm all set up to attend next week's Step 2 class to see if that is a good fit for me; if it's not I can always enter the Step 1 class and ramp up more gradually. And if that doesn't work, I'm sure there's remedial help somewhere right?