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Lesson Transcript

Peter: Stop by our website japanesepod101.com for all the latest and greatest features, line by line audio, iPod on the go plus much more. Stop by and see what’s going on at japanesepod101.com
Sakura: おはよう、横浜。さくらです。第三回、日本文化レッスン。
Peter: Peter here and we are back with another lesson. As always, we are brought to you by Erklaren, the translation and interpretation specialists. Okay Sakura, what did you just say in the beginning there. Can you give us the translation?
Sakura: Okay the third Japanese culture class.
Peter: Yes very nice and as you remember, we had Japanese culture class last week. Today what’s new Sakura?
Sakura: 第三回
Peter: Yes which is
Sakura: The third.
Peter: Yes last week we had
Sakura: 第二回
Peter: Yes. Listen, one more time see if you can pick up the difference between the second and the third lesson. Here we go.
Sakura: 第二回、第三回。
Peter: Yes very nice. One word in there is different. Which is the difference?
Sakura: ニ and 三
Peter: Yes so give it to us one more time.
Sakura: 第二回
Peter: Yes and
Sakura: 第三回
Peter: Yes. The second and the third.
Sakura: Right.
Peter: Okay very, very nice Sakura. So today we have another great show for you but before we get into that, again today we introduced a new place. If you didn’t catch the name and even if you caught it, please stop by www.japanesepod101.com. We will have the location and some information about it. Right Sakura?
Sakura: Uhoo..
Peter: Okay and this place is if I am not mistaken very familiar to you, right Sakura?
Sakura: Oh yes, I was born in that city.
Peter: Ah…
Sakura: Yes.

Lesson focus

Peter: Okay so for everybody out there who wants to find out where Sakura is born, please check out the home page. Okay so now, let’s get into today’s lesson. Can you give us the topic, what is today’s topic?
Sakura: 大学入試センター試験
Peter: Wow that was long okay. Give it to us one more time a little slower.
Sakura: Okay 大学入試センター試験
Peter: Okay very nice. Now what does this mean?
Sakura: It means country or national center test for entering university.
Peter: Yes very nice. Okay now what we are going to do is we are going to give you the word one more time and then we are going to break it down into individual words and sound it out for you, okay. One more time please, the whole word.
Sakura: 大学入試センター試験
Peter: Okay now there is many words in there right?
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Okay can we break down the words. What’s the first word in there?
Sakura: 大学
Peter: Okay very nice and what’s this?
Sakura: It’s university.
Peter: University. Okay can you give it to us one more time?
Sakura: 大学
Peter: Okay break it down.
Sakura: だいがく
Peter: And one time fast.
Sakura: 大学
Peter: University. Okay next.
Sakura: 入試
Peter: Okay and what’s this?
Sakura: It’s entrance examination.
Peter: Entrance examination, very nice. Okay one more time please.
Sakura: 入試
Peter: Okay and break it down.
Sakura: にゅうし
Peter: And one time fast.
Sakura: 入試
Peter: Okay so we have university which is
Sakura: 大学
Peter: Entrance exam which is
Sakura: 入試
Peter: Okay what’s the next word?
Sakura: センター
Peter: Okay and what does this mean?
Sakura: Center.
Peter: Okay now this is a katakana word right?
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Which means that it was imported.
Sakura: Imported, yes.
Peter: Yes so it comes from the English center.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Okay センター
Sakura: センター。そう。
Peter: Okay can you break it down? Can you give it to us one more time please.
Sakura: センター
Peter: Very nice, break it down.
Sakura: センター
Peter: Yes okay very, very nice. The last あ is a long vowel.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Okay very nice and one time fast.
Sakura: センター
Peter: Okay so now we have university.
Sakura: 大学
Peter: Entrance exam.
Sakura: 入試
Peter: Center.
Sakura: センター
Peter: Put them together
Sakura: 大学入試センター
Peter: Okay and the last word is
Sakura: 試験
Peter: Okay which is
Sakura: It’s exam.
Peter: Okay and can you break this down for us.
Sakura: しけん
Peter: Very nice. One time fast.
Sakura: 試験
Peter: Okay so let’s put it all together.
Sakura: Okay 大学入試センター試験
Peter: Okay which is
Sakura: It’s a common test that is part of university entrance exam.
Peter: Yes very nice. So this test is always held in January. The points acquired on this test give you the right to sit for other university’s exams.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Right. So it’s very, very important part of Japanese [*] right?
Sakura: Yes. And I just want to add that it’s generally required for national and public schools and for private schools, they didn’t require the center examination before but they are coming to use it more often and after this センター試験 they usually have university specific exams as well.
Peter: Oh wow!
Sakura: So after taking this センター試験 you often have to take another exam for that specific university or the department you are going to.
Peter: I see.
Sakura: At the university.
Peter: So this is the first step. This is the first step in your journey to getting into a college. You take this exam and the points here give you the right to sit for other university’s exams.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Right.
Sakura: So it’s one of the earliest exams for whole exam season. So….
Peter: Exam season…
Sakura: Yes. They must be really nervous now.
Peter: Yes yeah, this is a topic we cannot cover in 20 minutes and we cannot do an hour.
Sakura: Yeah.
Peter: So we are going to put a lot more information up on our website about this. So please stop by www.japanesepod101.com to find out more about exam season as Sakura nicely put in Japan. Now what we are going to do today is break it down because while everybody is out there enjoying their Saturday and Sunday, this is a two-day test right?
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: So while everybody is out there enjoying their weekend, all of the college hopefuls in Japan are panicking, nervous and pretty much their future is being decided this weekend.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: So we figure that while you guys are relaxing, you should know that there is a ton of people over here going through the most difficult time in their lives.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: So what we are going to do first is explain the test a bit to you. Okay as we said, it’s two-day test, right Sakura. Okay Sakura, where did you take this test?
Sakura: Actually I didn’t take it.
Peter: You didn’t take this test.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: I thought everybody takes this test. This is the test to get into university.
Sakura: Yes but there are some universities that have like high school and like junior high school and all these you know, different educational levels altogether.
Peter: So pretty much what you are saying is at each different level of junior high school or high school, you have a chance to take an exam and get into that school and then once you are in the school, you can remain there.
Sakura: Yes basically.
Peter: I see. So what was the name of your school?
Sakura: I went to 青山学院 university.
Peter: 青山学院 What’s 学院
Sakura: 学院 is – it means school.
Peter: School.
Sakura: But 青山学院 refers to the whole thing from kindergarten to university and there are different levels like if you want to enter the kindergarten, you take kindergarten test and then I joined the – I went to 青山学院 high school, I took a test and entered 青山学院 high school and then from there to university, I think you did some kind of test but it’s not the exam like it’s not real you know, university exam as everybody takes.
Peter: It’s kind of like once you are in….
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: It’s not such a difficult test to keep going but to get in, it’s very difficult.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Once you are in, you are in kind of.
Sakura: Yes there are some other schools like that that’s difficult to get to the next level as well.
Peter: Oh really?
Sakura: Yes and like you have to take the same kind of test you know like it’s regarded as the same school but like inside it’s completely you know separate…
Peter: Separate schools.
Sakura: Yes but in 青山学院 university, it’s kind of together.
Peter: Okay so what you are saying is the university that you went to, they have – the name is, one more time.
Sakura: 青山学院
Peter: And break that down for us.
Sakura: 青山学院
Peter: And by syllable.
Sakura: あおやまがくいん
Peter: And one time fast.
Sakura: 青山学院
Peter: And what is the first part, 青山 what’s that?
Sakura: 青山 is the place, a place name…
Peter: Yeah.
Sakura: Close to 表参道. We talked about 表参道
Peter: Yes we did and what is the literal meaning?
Sakura: Blue mountain.
Peter: Blue mountain, yes. So give us the color for blue.
Sakura: 青
Peter: And mountain
Sakura: 山
Peter: Yeah so blue mountain 学院 which is school.
Sakura: School.
Peter: The Blue Mountain School which is located in Tokyo.
Sakura: Yeah.
Peter: Now you are telling me that they have their own kindergarten.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Elementary School, junior high school…
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: High School University.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: So you can really go from – all the way from Kindergarten all the way to graduation in the same institute.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: That’s amazing.
Sakura: Yeah there are some schools like that that’s you know private schools. Public schools aren’t like that. They are all separate.
Peter: I see.
Sakura: And most private schools are separate as well.
Peter: Yeah I think – yeah I think that’s usually the case but that’s amazing. It’d kind of be like if Harvard had a kindergarten elementary school, middle school, junior high school, high school and then their own university.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Wow so that’s really fascinating. So you got into that and then you went all the way. Are there any other schools that have this, a famous school?
Sakura: 慶応?
Peter: 慶応 I remember last time we said 京王プラザ. Is that the same Kao?
Sakura: It’s different. The Chinese characters are different but the pronunciation is the same.
Peter: Oh I see. Okay so different and recently Keio University is one of the top universities.
Sakura: Oh yes!
Peter: In Japan, right?
Sakura: Umm...
Peter: But they are private.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Okay what’s the top university in Japan?
Sakura: 東京大学
Peter: Yes which is – one more time please
Sakura: 東京大学
Peter: Okay and listen one more time. You should get the words in here.
Sakura: 東京大学
Peter: Which is
Sakura: It is Tokyo University.
Peter: Yeah Tokyo University. Yes the top school here.
Sakura: Yes that’s national school.
Peter: Yes.
Sakura: So to get into Tokyo University, you have to take this センター試験
Peter: Okay.
Sakura: Yeah.
Peter: Yeah sorry, let’s get back to this センター試験. Okay so it’s a two-day exam. We established that?
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Okay and then you have a choice of many subjects. Give us a rough idea, just a general idea of what’s on it, not everything just kind of a general idea.
Sakura: Okay 地理
Peter: Okay and what’s that?
Sakura: Geography.
Peter: Geography. One more time please.
Sakura: 地理
Peter: Break it down.
Sakura: ちり
Peter: And one time fast.
Sakura: 地理
Peter: Okay geography, next.
Sakura: 歴史
Peter: And what’s that?
Sakura: History.
Peter: Okay one more time.
Sakura: 歴史
Peter: Break it down.
Sakura: れきし
Peter: One time fast.
Sakura: 歴史
Peter: What else?
Sakura: And 国語
Peter: Now what’s this?
Sakura: It’s Japanese language.
Peter: Japanese yeah.
Sakura: Literature and…
Peter: Yes kind of equivalent to English.
Sakura: Yes, yes.
Peter: On a SAT, it is the Japanese language.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Okay and can you break this down for us?
Sakura: こくご
Peter: And one time fast.
Sakura: 国語
Peter: Yes very nice. Okay.
Sakura: It literally means national language like 国 means country or national.
Peter: And then what does 語 mean?
Sakura: The 語 is language..
Peter: Aha so this 語 means language right?
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: So what’s the word for Japan?
Sakura: 日本
Peter: So if we add this 語 it becomes
Sakura: 日本語
Peter: Which is
Sakura: Japanese.
Peter: Yeah and English. English comes from the word England right?
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: What’s the Chinese character for England but now the UK?
Sakura: 英
Peter: Break it down, syllable.
Sakura: えい
Peter: And one time fast.
Sakura: 英
Peter: So that’s the character for England. Now if we want to say English, we add the 語 and
Sakura: 英語
Peter: Yes. English, okay very nice. Okay so we have geography, history, Japanese language.
Sakura: And also 数学
Peter: Okay and what’s this?
Sakura: Mathematics.
Peter: Mathematics. Okay can you say this one more time?
Sakura: 数学
Peter: Okay and break it down.
Sakura: すうがく
Peter: Okay one time fast.
Sakura: 数学
Peter: Okay and this is mathematics. So you get a general idea of what’s on the exam. Of course, there are other things that we are not going to mention due to time limitations but you get the general idea. So it’s two days.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Back to back. Saturday, Sunday.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Very tough.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Okay so now, who is eligible? Who takes this exam?
Sakura: High school students who are going to graduate in spring, this spring.
Peter: Yes. Okay wait! Stop right here. I think we need to explain something. In the US, the New School Year starts in September and runs through the following year up until about June depending June 4 up to high school. What about Japan, when does the school year start?
Sakura: It starts in April.
Peter: April and the first semester goes from April to…
Sakura: July.
Peter: July and then they have one month break?
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: One month vacation and then…
Sakura: Yes from September to December.
Peter: December.
Sakura: Umm and then from January to March.
Peter: Yes. So it runs a bit different. So this test, the reason the test is now in January is because this is the test for entrance into the spring.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: April semester of this university year, right Sakura?
Sakura: Right.
Peter: Okay so again, who is taking this test?
Sakura: High school students who are going to graduate this march.
Peter: Okay.
Sakura: Or who have people who graduated earlier who already have finished high school education.
Peter: Well if they already finished high school education, didn’t they take this test already? Why would they be taking this test again?
Sakura: If you fail all exams this year or people who want to get into like better schools, you did…
Peter: Like Tokyo University.
Sakura: Yes, yes, yes you take the test many times to get in.
Peter: I see.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Now let me just clarify this. You know, in the US we have if you don’t get the university 1, you can go to a 2-year university and then transfer, work hard and then transfer to a school you want to go to.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: In Japan, is that style very common?
Sakura: Not very common, yes.
Peter: I see.
Sakura: But some people go to a certain university for one year and then take the test again, exam again and go to the school they really wanted to go to.
Peter: Now when they enter that school, do they enter as – they enter as a first year student, right?
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: So it doesn’t, it has no meaning.
Sakura: That’s right, right.
Peter: It has no meaning to go to a different school study for a year because…
Sakura: Yes they just wanted to go, you know.
Peter: Yeah.
Sakura: So…
Peter: The credits don’t carry over.
Sakura: No, no, no…
Peter: So what a lot of students who don’t get into the school, they want to do is they take a year off.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: And they just study for this test again.
Sakura: They go to 予備校 usually.
Peter: 予備校 I didn’t know that. What is this?
Sakura: 予備校 is a – it’s like prep school.
Peter: Okay.
Sakura: Yes and it’s a place for studying specifically for university entrance examination.
Peter: I see.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: And it’s every day?
Sakura: It’s every day, its day time you know.
Peter: Lot long hours?
Sakura: Yes so they can choose you know all these subjects and they go to the classes they want to.
Peter: I see. So if I take the exam and I have my heart set on going to Tokyo university, not that I would ever get in there but I’d be four years old in one of the 予備校 but so what I do is rather than going to another university and transferring which is very uncommon, what I would do is I would go – take a year off…
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: And go to as you said a 予備校
Sakura: 予備校 Yes.
Peter: Long vowel at the end 予備校 and then I would study hard and then the following year, I would take the exam again with the hopes of getting enough points to enter into Tokyo university.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: Got it, okay very, very interesting. Now can you break down this 予備校 for us?
Sakura: よびこう
Peter: Okay and one time fast.
Sakura: 予備校
Peter: Very nice, very, very interesting. Now do these people who take a year off study for the exam again at the 予備校, do they have a special name?
Sakura: They are called 浪人生
Peter: Very nice and can you break this down for us?
Sakura: ろうにんせい
Peter: Very nice and one time fast.
Sakura: 浪人生
Peter: So this is a word I think many foreigners will know because there are some movies named 浪人 or…
Sakura: Oh yes.
Peter: You know, it’s kind of a individual meaning of a person that doesn’t belong to something yet.
Sakura: Umm right and then that’s 浪人 and then 生 is usually put for students.
Peter: Yes.
Sakura: So 浪人 type of students.
Peter: Kind of like a student without a school.
Sakura: That’s right yeah.
Peter: Yeah and they are trying their best to get into them.
Sakura: Umm.
Peter: So this is quite common.
Sakura: Yes quite common. When I was in university, about one third of my friends were 浪人生
Peter: Oh really!
Sakura: Yes one year 浪人 or two year 浪人. Yes so it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Yes.
Peter: Now Sakura, so there is another word that I heard and the reason I heard it is because I had the experience of becoming one of them umm. I went to graduate school here in Japan.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: And I didn’t graduate in time. It was a 2-year course and it took me three. So I had a special name, what was that name?
Sakura: 留年
Peter: Okay and what does this mean?
Sakura: It means staying in that year.
Peter: Yes. Staying in that year and can you break this down?
Sakura: りゅうねん
Peter: Okay and one time fast.
Sakura: 留年
Peter: What do you think about this?
Sakura: Umm…Actually I am also 留年. It’s something to be very ashamed of, yes.
Peter: Yes umm, welcome to the club Sakura. Very big club. Yeah in Japan, this is kind of frowned upon right?
Sakura: That’s right.
Peter: Yeah it’s – if you go into an interview and the numbers don’t add up.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: You kind of get this look and they really – well they kind of want an explanation.
Sakura: Yes.
Peter: So it took five years for your four year degree.
Sakura: Yes so 浪人 is okay but 留年 is not okay.


Peter: Yes I see. So we are running out of time. Today we just wanted to let you know that this week in Japan, this is what’s going on. So that’s going to be it for today.
Sakura: また明日ね。
Peter: See you tomorrow. Be sure to stop by japanesepod101.com and check out the premium learning center. Inside, we have material to bring everything you learned in the lesson together. Flashcards, quizzes, really consolidate what you learned in today’s lesson. Stop by, say hi and be sure to leave us a post.


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