Saturday, November 21, 2015

Después el DELE

My DELE exam was divided between two days. The first day was the speaking test. I jumped on the bus and made it ten minutes early, only to be told there was a backlog of candidates, hence I'd start half an hour late. Great, I thought, rolling my eyes.

I spotted a message on my phone which made me smile: "Chiquitilla que tengas mucha suerte." (Little one, good luck.) 

Once I finally entered the first room to read and prepare, I was surprised that teachers walked in and out while I was writing my notes. I suppose it would've been best to study in a place with movement and noise, as absolute quiet wasn't considered here at the university.

When my twenty minutes were up, I was shuttled to another room to do the actual test. The examiner spoke very clearly. But when it was time to read Task three, surprisingly she and the observers chatted while I was trying to concentrate on the text! Clearly candidates are expected to have nerves of steel during the tests.

The next day was an early start, as it consisted of the reading, writing, and listening tests. Just in case, I brought earplugs and extra paper, pencils and pens, but the latter were not needed; everything was provided. Very official. We started on-time. The reading section was first. It was fairly easy, because I'd prepared at home with the DELE book “El Cronómetro”. But the audio test was a fiasco. Listening is one of my weakest skills, and the C1 DELE really tests you. I was experienced with the format, but the quality of the audio was the worst I'd heard in my life. The first part consisted of a conference speech about Peruvian food. The quality of the microphone that had recorded the talk was terrible. The third task, however, was unbelievably bad. It sounded like someone talking through a bad telephone line, with paper over their mouth. During the break, one of the candidates complained to the supervisor.

After the quick 30-minute pause, we headed back in to do the written test. It was easy and I had time afterwards to check and re-check my writing. When we finished, the director of the language department came in and informed us that we could listen to the third part of the listening test again, to try and improve our results. I wasn't pleased to hear this. I'd already been sitting and writing an exam for four hours. However, we took a chance. Turned out to be useless, as having another try didn't change any of my answers; the audio was still horrible. The supervisor informed us that the university would send a complaint to the Instituto Cervantes, but as to whether there'd be any result, he seemed doubtful.

I exited in a slump. I felt so-so about the reading, writing, and speaking parts, but the listening part did not give me high hopes. It will take a few months to receive the results. As I look back, I wish I'd pushed myself to study more during the summer. I also wished I didn't work so much speaking English, in order to have time to prepare for the exam. But, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. I learned many valuable lessons during my preparation and during the actual test. Next time, I'll do better.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Dreaded DELE

I've decided to reduce my writing schedule to every two weeks, because I've got an incredibly difficult exam coming up next month. The DELE (Diploma de Español como Lengua Extranjera) is a world-recognized official test proving one's Spanish level. I've been studying since the summer, although only recently did I up my game.

I don't want to reduce my writing time, because I love doing it, but this exam comes first. As it is, it's really difficult maintaining my Spanish for this level C1 exam, because of work. I spend many hours per week speaking and planning English lessons. I'm so grateful that at least I have a Spanish roomate and I go out with friends who speak Spanish with me. Although a few want to practise English, they understand that right now I'm ready to pull my hair out if I speak even one word of English outside of work.
How I look when studying
(except, not like a boy; I try to look hot, actually)
I've been using the book “El Cronómetro”, because of Cat Gaa's blog. The university has a great prep course, but it conflicts with my work. And I have yet to find someone in Jaén who's able to have private class with me to prepare. They say it's good enough to hire a native Spanish speaker, but I believe it's best to hire someone who's familiar with the exam. Many Spanish people aren't.

I'm lucky that my test is based on only one subject and relatively easy to study for. I have many friends studying like mad for their oposiciónes (national tests) in order to get work. A friend of mine, who has studied for oposiciónes before, put it this way: “Fundamentally, it's like a marathon, where it seems you'll never reach the finish line, but you must keep running.” I'm tired, but the end is almost here, so until then I'll have to put writing aside and concentrate on reaching my goal.