Thanks to everyone who prayed for my big test a few weeks ago. In only three short months I’ll have the official results. Yes, three. All the same, I wanted to give you my unofficially subjective perspective on how it went. Results aside, the test was a great motivator to push me to study and so I can safely say that it served its purpose.
The test had 5 parts: Listening comprehension, grammatical analysis, reading comprehension, written communication, and spoken communication. Those aren’t the real titles of the parts, but you get the idea. The test is certainly one way to indicate progress, which is why I took it, but there is a certain ‘game-like factor’ to the whole endeavor. There is a lot of filling in of little bubbles, making sure you transfer your answers from the booklet where you work to the answer booklet with the bubbles. Forget to do this and even with all the correct answers in the wrong booklet, you fail. Time management is also a part of the strategy. Each section has a set amount of time and even if you finish one section early you can’t go back to a previous section.
Listening comprehension was first. With the practice tests this was one of the sections I found least difficult. In the official test, however, it seemed like the hardest part. The content of the listening parts is really the ‘luck of the draw’. You might get a subject that you have a ton of context for or you might get something you know little to nothing about. I don’t remember the content of all three listening selections, but one was about motorcycle racing. As a guy who has never ridden a motorcycle (and isn’t sad about that reality) and who has never seen a race, let’s just say I didn’t have a whole lot of previous experience to draw from.
The grammatical analysis went pretty well. It’s about as fun as it sounds. Actually, the official name is something like ‘communication’ something or other, because grammatical analysis is so unpalatable. My tutor and I drilled this section a million times. You have to do things like fill in blanks with conjunctions and prepositions and conjugate verbs. It went okay.
The reading comprehension is the section where a nerdy love of books comes in handy. It’s simple. You read two selections then answer questions. Then you read various sentences from a third selection, which are jumbled and you have to put them in the right order. This was the section that seemed to go the best.
The writing section consists of a very brief essay and a formal letter. I wrote my little essay on the elements that contribute to the well-being of a country. I talked about the importance of having a worldview with a hope at the center that influences every other part of life. I didn’t launch into the Gospel, but obviously that was what I had in mind. Then I wrote a pretend letter to a committee explaining that I wanted to help with some sort of community event.
The oral part is made up of two brief sections that they record and mail off to the university to evaluate. The first section is a dialogue that lasts about 2 minutes. I played the part of a guy who had purchased a plane ticket from a travel agency, but couldn’t get on the plane because it was overbooked. I had to have a conversation with the ‘travel agent’ asking for a refund. It went pretty well overall. I pulled one thing that was super American and asked for a full refund and a discount on another ticket for the inconvenience. Then I finished with a 3 minute monologue on what I thought about the common tendency to constantly take selfies and put them on the internet. I didn’t choose the topic by the way. Here I tried to say way too much and kind of lost track of time. 3 minutes isn’t very long.
I’ll be glad if I pass the exam, but if I don’t, I only have to redo the section(s) that I failed. It will be nice to have the certificate so that I can take classes at the university as a way to meet people and work on my Italian. The exam was a great motivator to study and I’m grateful to the Lord for the progress He let me make. But I’m far from done with learning Italian. Every day I realize I still have more to refine and more to learn.
I’ll continue to meet with my tutor this summer as much as possible in the midst of a busy schedule. August we are headed to a university in another part of Italy where Johanna will take an intensive course for a month. I also hope to take a course or two if it all works out. So, as you think about us, keep praying for our Italian.