jeudi, juillet 24, 2008

08.07.24: DELF B2, Epreuves écrites

So, the first of two days of épreuves arrives. Today is the day that I get to demonstrate my french skills in written comprehension and also in producing a coherent written argument of my own making.

The exam begins earlier than anticipated.

I arrive at the appointed address in the 6th, just off métro stop Notre-Dames-des-Champs, about twenty minutes early. In the lobby is a sign posted: DELF B2 8ème étage, prenez l'ascenseur with some little arrows pointing to the left. I followed the direction of the arrows to find the elevator, with a small hand-written piece of paper stuck on the elevator doors: H-S. This is a sort of pop-quiz. H-S means hors service ... the elevator don't work, in other words. OK.

I climb to the ninth floor. Enter a classroom, where there is a guy already in the room, with a crutch laying on the floor next to him. I said: Did you take the steps? He replied: Was there a choice? So much for handicapped foreigners. Can't walk up nine floors in a non-air conditioned building in mid-July? Guess you don't get to pass the exam.

About thirty additional potential ‘independants’ arrive by the same path. After all of us have entered the classroom, the examiner arrives and states: “It is clearly marked on the door not to enter. You need to leave while we arrange the room for the exam.” We did not point out to her that it also is marked on the door: Exam in process.

We thirty shuffle out to stand on a platform at the top of the stairs that is large enough for five. The rest stream down the stairwell in the July afternoon heat. Ten minutes later, our examiner opens the door and begins calling us into the room one-by-one. Names of origins from around the globe, all ready to demo our newly acquired French skills. Some for citizenship, some for university entrance, some for job advancement. Show ID. Sign the log. Receive seating assignment for the day. Enter the next potential victim. The guy taking the test next to me is German, looking to establish his 3rd language competency to allow the next level promotions for his fonctionnaire position with the EU.

After all 30 of us are signed-in, seated, and nearly sedated from the heat, it is time to begin the actual exam.

The exam was … as advertised.

Oral Comprehension … 2 extracts from radio interviews to listen to, then questions of true/false, multiple choice, short answer. Always difficult for me to understand the nuances.
Written Comprehension … one text from an advertising company touting their ability to provide marketing strategies for the adolescent market; second text an editorial from Le Point about the changing political landscape in environmental concerns.
Written Production … write a letter requesting financial support for a bicycle rally that is promoting increased bicycle use in our daily living. I sense the checks are already in the mail coming my way.

2 ½ hrs of concentration in French. Brasserie around the corner to suck down a cold beer after.

How did I do? Dunno yet. Feels like more than 50% correct to me, the minimum for success.

Next week is round 2.

For an example of the level of written comprehension expected, see the following:

Two example questions:
Define what is meant by: corvéable à merci
Describe the significance of the word “ mutant” in the last paragraph.