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Case Study

School

Meikai University Associate Professor of Global Studies PhD. International Communication Chikako Ogihara

Meikai University
Associate Professor of Global Studies
PhD. International Communication

Chikako Ogihara

Definitely a useful exam,
both for job seeking and after gaining employment.

Please tell us your impressions of the exam.

"When working for a Japanese company, even those people who can speak Japanese very well may not respond appropriately to other people in light of the circumstances. That is the difference between Japanese language ability and Japanese communication skills. The Practical Japanese Communication Exam is intended to help students achieve the communication skills required to work for Japanese companies.
Right now, there are no other tests that align with actual workplace situations. Also, since detailed points are scored for each area, students are able to identify their weaknesses.
The exam is useful not only for basic knowledge of Japanese business, but the knowledge studied is also certain to remain useful after gaining employment, such as acquiring the habit of looking out for people's feelings, respecting their words, and noticing subtle differences in wording. When you're interviewed for a job, you'll probably hear back that your Japanese is better than the other students."

EHLE Institute College Seiko Yoshiro

EHLE Institute College
Seiko Yoshiro

Practical details of students' actual experience, directly measured

What is the background to the Ehle Institute's decision to adopt the Practical Japanese Communication Exam (PJC)?

Currently, for our second-year students, we run a weekly business etiquette class every six months, using a conventional text intended for Japanese people. After conducting a mock experience of the sample questions, we adopted this exam in order to measure our current teaching situation and learning achievements.
In addition, we were also eager to support the needs of our students, who wanted a test "useful in finding employment" and "to try out their Japanese ability and learn more about practical situations."

Having taken the exam, what are your impressions?

Because we originally studied using the "Communication Test Beginner-level Text", I felt very familiar with the content of the questions. I reflected back on the first year's basic learning. Because our students with internship experience achieved good scores based on those experiences, I knew that the content was practical. For students, making efforts to understand these points will help them improve their skills.

In the process of studying for the test, what were the students mindful of? What were their reactions?

Although students can comprehend well if they consider carefully, problems included inability to fully read question text within the time limit and inability to hear spoken questions on the first try. Naturally, I feel that a basic level of ability in Japanese is necessary. Also, in terms of relationships with other tests, this exam feels closely related to the Business Japanese Proficiency Test (BJT). If the Practical Japanese Communication Exam (PJC) is used in conjunction with traditional learning, a synergistic effect can be expected. Our students have suggested that because the questions contain similar examples, there is also a synergistic effect with the Secretarial Test, which ensures a multifaceted approach to learning Japanese.

Finally, do you have any general comments on the learning outcomes or your expectations of the PJC in the future?

I observed that rather than the students who are usually highly motivated to achieve good grades, students with weaker Japanese ability but stronger practical skills built up through internships achieved a high scoring rate. The test was able to help the former group understand that work experience was necessary for making rapid decisions, while it helped the latter group develop confidence in their Japanese language abilities. With so much practical content, I feel that the test really helps improve skills by ensuring this mindset while learning. In the future, I expect that this exam will enrich its supporting educational materials such as various indices, training exercises, and business vocabulary aimed at international students to become a qualification that truly deepens the students' study of Japanese.

Tohoku Computer College Director, International Business Department Masatoshi Deba
Graduate of International Business Department KC Chandra Bahadur

Tohoku Computer College
Director, International Business Department

Masatoshi Deba

Tohoku Computer College
Graduate of International Business Department

KC Chandra Bahadur

Remarks from Mr. Deba

What is the background to the Tohoku Computer College's decision to adopt the Practical Japanese Communication Exam (PJC)?

One characteristic of the international students enrolled at our school is that they tend to be better at speaking and listening but weaker at reading and writing. The Japanese language qualification tests offered at our school, which a lot of foreign students take, contain around 30 to 40% tasks evaluating listening ability with the remaining 60% to 70% occupied by tasks evaluating reading and writing ability, such as grammar, reading comprehension, kanji, and vocabulary. For this reason, not many students from non-Chinese-character-using countries are able to achieve Level 2 (level N2 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test) or higher within the limited learning period, which has a fairly significant impact on finding employment. Students with strong speaking and listening abilities had long hoped to see a test taking advantage of these skills. Then Certify announced the Practical Japanese Communication Exam (PJC), a new exam aimed at international students that would specialize in assessing communication ability. Our school adopted this exam when it was still a monitoring test, but as a qualification it can help to demonstrate the Japanese language ability of international students seeking employment. Last year, we also ran the Practical Japanese Communication Bridge (PJC Bridge) monitoring test.

Having taken the exam, what are your impressions?

Among those students who held only the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) level N3 qualification, several received a B- level ranking in the Practical Japanese Communication Exam (PJC). I observed that in many cases, this opportunity helped to make major changes to the student's Japanese learning. Students gained the confidence that they too could speak and understand Japanese. The most significant fact was that this confidence had a positive impact on finding employment and was advantageous further down the line. The exam enables students to enter their PJC results when writing their employment resumes, and some are occasionally asked by HR staff at prospective employers to explain the test. When they explain that the test measures practical communication ability in Japanese, the idea is very positively received. I believe that this has also led to a rise in the school's employment offer rate.

In the process of studying for the test, what were the students mindful of? What were their reactions?

Both on the teaching side and the student side, many were tackling this exam for the first time. Thus, following the monitoring test, our main test preparations consisted of conversation problems centered on a syllabus of similar situations, vocabulary specialized for business situations, etc. Although it varies year by year, this usually takes approximately three months. Both from students and instructors, there is a demand to see collections of problems and collections of past questions as soon as possible. One textbook already exists, but there is a lot of classroom demand for more questions. At the moment, individual schools are forced to devise their own solutions for measures to prepare for this test

Finally, do you have any general comments on the learning outcomes or your expectations of the PJC in the future?

I have realized that the Practical Japanese Communication Exam (PJC) is very useful for international students with stronger speaking and listening ability, as opposed to reading and writing ability, who tend to work harder to find employment while possessing only the JLPT level N3 or N4. Of course, not all candidates receive a high evaluation on the PJC, but for those international students who have 3 or 4 years' experience of part-time work while enrolled at a Japanese language school and later university or vocational school in Japan, if they prepare for the test to a certain extent, I believe they can achieve a score of level C- or higher. I would certainly recommend this test to those seeking a new qualification, or to teachers whose students are struggling to find employment. Finally, I would be keen to see the examination fee drop a little in future. Also, I think making clear the correlation with the Practical Japanese Communication Bridge (PJC Bridge) would probably be a good thing.

Remarks from KC Chandra Bahadur

What was your initial motivation or opportunity to take the Practical Japanese Communication Exam (PJC)?

A teacher at my school introduced me to the PJC exam. It was the first test I'd taken, so of course there were things I didn't fully understand; however, before the test my teacher explained that this was a new Japanese language test measuring communication ability. I had previously taken Japanese language tests such as JLPT and NAT-TEST, but I hadn't obtained great results, so I wanted to achieve a good performance on this test. My result was a B- level pass. Because I use Japanese every day in my part-time job, I was confident with Japanese conversation, and I am very pleased that I could demonstrate my communication ability as a formal qualification in this way.

What benefits do you feel the PJC qualification provides? Also, what are the benefits after finding employment?

At the time, I held a N3 level in the JLPT or NAT-TEST, so achieving a B- level ranking in the PJC gave me great confidence. Subsequently, when writing my resume for job hunting, being able to enter my PJC results in the "qualifications" field was a big advantage. I think that listing my performance in lots of Japanese language tests (at my school, these included the JLPT, NAT-TEST, Kanji Aptitude Test, PJC, PJC Bridge, J.TEST, etc.) was very useful in finding employment. For foreign students like me from countries where Chinese characters are not used, and who have greater confidence in their conversation (communication) ability than in their kanji and reading comprehension, it's easier to achieve good results on this test. Thanks to this, I was able to find employment with a real estate company located in Sendai. I was also able to obtain an employment visa without any trouble.


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