Feburary 14th, 2005 (9:56am)
Lots of things had happened. Obviously lots of things tend to happen with the welcoming of a new year. Today is my first day back in Japan after a relatively long assignment in the US, which was followed closely by a trip in China for Chinese New Years.
The most interesting of recent happenings was that I got my results from the Japanese Language testing board. I was Goukaku with 300 points out of 400 (actually not such great score at all).
The sad thing is, I did not know how to pronounce Goukaku when I received the notification - I knew what it meant (besides, it had english translation on the side) because of my chinese background, but it is terribly ironic that I have passed an exam which I couldn't even read the "passing" note. Of course, I still think I should have failed, the aforementioned reason being one, and the other that it's a great injustice to people who had studied very hard for the said test.
I should mention that it has come to my attention that in general japan likes to publish a lot of statistical data about all sorts of stuff. It's a obsession somewhat similar to the obsession with trivia in the US. While trivia usually yields amusement, however, statistics yield some insight into useless trivia as well.
The one that was especially enlightening was the separate "domestic test takers" and "international test takers" statistics on average score by category. on the listening comprehension portion, the test takers in japan scored a whole 12 points above those outside - clearly demonstrating that immersion is still the key to learning a foreign language well. I am sure this can be generalized to many other languages, of course. On one hand, I am glad that there are some empirical (scientific, even) evidence that my times spent here is of value, but it makes me wonder just how much is the challenge if I ever want to take on another foreign language without the benefit of living in the said country.