Monday, 5 May 2008

A Good Excuse / Moltes excuses

The last few weeks I have spent a big share of my time preparing for the Generalitat’s certificate of knowledge of Catalan and Saturday, May 3, was the day when I and all other people in Catalonia who are on the intermediate level (B) took our tests.

Here in Vilanova, out of 40 people who had signed up, there were only two of us who identified ourselves by NIE, the rest had DNIs, revealing that they were Spanish citizens. Most locals sign up for these exams by necessity – a great number of official positions stipulate that you have to possess a certain level of skills in Catalan, and many of those who went to school during the Franco years still do not do so. I have to admit that for me, the formal recognition of the language level were I consider that I belong, was not of such importance – I saw the test rather as a motivator not to relax in my studies.

With many of the other examinees being native speakers, it was the oral part which I feared the most. It represented only 20% of the total score, but you need to be accepted here in order to obtain an overall pass. Fortunately enough, the examiners made great efforts to reduce our nervousness and create a relaxed atmosphere. My feeling is that I got a pass, but even if I did not, this was the most enjoyable time of the whole exam process.

Before we came to the oral exam, we had already gone through the other four parts. At least as I understand it, the advantage with those is that you have the right to score below target on an individual part, as long as you have other ones which compensate in order for your total result to be over 60%.

In the listening comprehension part, I certainly felt much more confident with the multiple choice questions than with those where we had to write answer sentences by ourselves. The reading comprehension was not simple, but I still believe that it will be the part where I have my highest rate of correct answers. In my two texts of free composition – a letter to a friend and an argumentative article – I am convinced to have comparative advantages of not being an inexperienced writer, although my language as such is far from perfect. So it is in the final part, grammar and vocabulary, where I have the strongest doubts about my result. As if to make matters worse, we had to write all answers by pen, not pencil, so I had to return a totally messy answer booklet after having realized that I had put almost ten items in a row on the wrong line.

Not only did the exam take a good five hours to go through, the tests are only organised once a year. For those who plan to sign up for next year, I strongly advise you to go through the sample exam, to avoid surprises. And now I will have to keep my fingers crossed for quite some time – only by July 28 will the Generalitat publish our results.
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M’imagino que sóc a punt de perdre la vostra confiança. Més o menys directament després de comunicar la meva intenció d’escriure també en català, vaig haver de fer un gran descans. La primera raó n'era familiar. La meva avia que viu a Praga, la capital de la República Txeca, va celebrar el seu noranté aniversari i vaig anar-hi amb els dos nens. Al petit pis que la meva mare té allà no disposem de xarxa i la meva solució - que jo sortés sol per cercar un locutori d'internet mentres que els nens dormien amb els seus avis (doncs amb els meus pares) - no va tener gaire èxit. La segona raó era purament física – encara ara tinc amdos tendons d’Aquil·les greument inflamats. La tercera, finalment, era més bé profesional: el dissabte passat vaig presentar-me per la prova del certicat de nivell intermedi (B) de català.

Com va anar l’examen? A veure, més que res sofreixo per les respostes dolentes de què m'estic adonant tot el temps des de que vaig sortir de la sala del examen.

Si vaig intentar fer el millor possible? En tot cas, d'això no cap ningun dubte. Espero que hagi aprovat, però serà amb un marge molt just.

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