Oh the dreaded Interac conversation test. Japanese language proficiency call is probably a better description. My caller was adorable, as most I’m sure are. We had a little hick-up because I missed her first call (8:30pm my time) by a couple seconds and then when she said she’d call back, her son was sick and she had to stay home. But we worked it out and she was able to call me back last night thankfully.
I felt a little bad because I highly doubt I’m fluent enough to be considered for the extra money they offer (5000 yen per month). My goal was simply to get my feet wet with a real Japanese person I had never met before. I surprised myself and did really well as far as understanding everything she said. A few of the sentences I just couldn’t respond to due to my low level of grammer and vocab. I mean, I only had a year and we didn’t even finish the first Genki book.
Now, don’t think I went into it unprepared. I absolutely studied my head off. My buddy Nathalie was great and helped me practice formulating some simple sentences like the all important “mouichido itte kudasai” or “could you say that again please”. She also gave me some questions she might ask, tho she ended up only asking of them, it was still really helpful just to practice listening skills. The best bit was a facebook link she sent me of a discussion she found about the calls.
“It’s not that hard. I had one.
They do start off pretty easily with very basic Japanese and eventually move into the more difficult levels of Japanese.
I can’t remember the whole conversation, but this is a good example of what to expect:
Firstly, she asked what my name was after introducing herself.
She asked me how the weather was where I live after that.
For how long did I study Japanese and where.
What I did yesterday, today, and what would I do tomorrow.
If I had ever been to Kyoto.
What my favorite Japanese food is, and where I go for it.
What I want to do in Japan.
There were more, but those should give you an idea.
At the end, we had some small talk in English for a couple minutes. She asked me if this was the first time I had spoken to a Japanese person on the phone.
That’s a pretty basic rundown– though the last questions were very difficult. Such as what interesting news I had read in a newspaper. Don’t worry– it’s not a big problem. You’ll do fine. :)”
This was the absolutely most helpful post for me. The caller asked almost all of these questions. In addition she asked when my birthday was and some other questions in response to answers I had given to the above mentioned questions. These were obviously harder because I had to think on the spot. But I survived. I’m really proud of myself for not stuttering and understanding all she was asking. Hopefully my sentence making skills will improve as my exposure to more Japanese people sky-rockets.
One last note:
Stress is starting to take it’s toll. The late night calls, lots of researching and reading, and studying the language have been my daily companions. But I also am working my part-time job during the day as well as finishing up my lingering personal projects (like getting as many kanzashi and painting done as possible). It’s all tumbling together in what feels like a giant snowball of doom.
BUT it’s all kind of awesome, too. I’ve had the opportunity to really perform in my job, assisting and doing a lot of duties in place of my boss who unfortunately has had to step aside for little bit. I’ve been able to get experience in administrative duties as well as interviewing and event planning. And don’t even get me started on how much I love swimming around on google earth in Japan and reading other ALT’s blogs or surfing websites about the area around my placement in Shika.
It’s just something I want clear to any prospective ALT’s out there. If you don’t like stress, this job is not for you. However, if you thrive on the unplanned, the unknown, and the all around awesome that is traveling abroad, climb aboard, my friend.
With love – M