JFT-Basic – Japanese Test for Foreign Workers
Considering to take the JFT-Basic? Find out what it covers, how to prepare and where to take this new Japanese test, that checks if you got what it takes to manage living and working in Japan.
What is the JFT-Basic?
The JFT-Basic – Japan Foundation Test for Japanese, is a new Japanese test aimed at prospective foreign employees that want to work in Japan. It tests elementary Japanese skills needed to live and work in Japan.
Primarily aimed at candidates applying for a Specified Skilled Worker visa, the JFT-Basic is currently only available in a few select countries outside of Japan.
How is the JFT-Basic different from other Tests?
Both JFT-Basic and levels N4 and N5 of the popular JLPT are testing for basic Japanese proficiency.
What sets them apart is that while the JLPT tests general language skills, the JFT-Basic’s orientation is more practical and checks if candidates have the necessary understanding of Japanese to deal with everyday life and work situations in Japan.
So in terms of work orientation, it is similar to the BJT but positioned at the other end of the spectrum. Where the BJT tests advanced skills for business negotiations etc, the JFT-Basic focuses on whether test-takers understand clear directions and can talk about familiar tasks.
This new test fills a hole by offering a measurement to see if someone has the minimal practical language skills to work in Japan.
What does the JFT-Basic cover?
As the name says the JFT-Basic tests “basic language skills,” so you will need know elementary grammar, common words, as well as be able to read Hiragana, Katakana, and some Kanji. The test’s level is equivalent to JLPT N4 or the A2 level.
At this level, you can:
- ■ understand common sentences and expressions regarding personal, family, and everyday issues
- ■ talk about familiar tasks and simple instructions
- ■ explain about own background, wants, needs, and immediate environment
How is the JFT-Basic structured?
The JFT-Basic consists of four parts:
Script and Vocabulary: word meaning, word usage, kanji reading, kanji meaning and usage
Conversation and Expression: grammar, expressions
Listening comprehension: conversations, communication at public places, announcements and instructions
Reading comprehension: comprehending content, information search
Each section consists of around 15 questions, adding up to 60 questions total. The test duration is 60 minutes. There are no time limits for the individual sections so how you use that time is up to you.
What to study for the JFT-Basic?
As the test covers basic Japanese the best way is to use study materials fro A1/A2 or N5/N4 level.
The Japan Foundation also offers free self-study online courses that currently covers A1 and A2 levels and also teach the Japanese writing systems (Hiragana, Katakana, and basic Kanji apps). Explanations to course materials are available in multiple languages and interactive exercises and allow users to practice listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
Since both this eLearning platform and the JFT-Basic are part of the Japan Foundation, these courses were specifically created to prepare for the test and probably provide the way to cover all topics needed to pass the JFT-Basic.
If you want to study in class or using different text books, you can do that too. The test is based on currently 381 Can-dos, statements that describe a certain ability or task. So, using those as orientation is another way to prepare for the test.
Currently the list is only available in Japanese, but I will add a link to the English list once it’s out.
Where can I take the JFT-Basic?
Since the test is aimed at people who are about to come to Japan for work, the test is not held within Japan, but only in a few partner countries, currently including:
- ■ Indonesia
- ■ Philippines
- ■ Nepal
- ■ Cambodia
- ■ Mongolia
- ■ Vietnam
- ■ Myanmar
If you want to apply for a Specified Skilled Worker Visa but do not live in any of the above countries, you can take the JLPT instead. The test is held in Japan and around the world on the first Sunday of June and December of every year. Check which level you need to pass (usually N4 or N5) for your respective industry.
How can I apply for the JFT-Basic?
Apply for the test on the official website. Applications are open until 3 days before the test date.
Application: First, sign up and get your ‘Prometric ID’. With the ID you can then log in, check for test locations and times, and apply for a test date of your choice.
Apply here: JFT-Basic website
Test day: One the test date you should arrive 15-30 minutes early and bring a valid ID and your confirmation letter. Otherwise, you will not be allowed to enter the test venue.
Results: After the test, your results will be shown on your screen. So you immediately know how you did. The official result notifications are made available within 5 business days after the test.
If you want to retake the JFT-Basic there is a 30 day waiting period before you can try again.