Ok, you know how when you have to do something really hard and it seems like sucha good idea to say you’re going to do it later, because then you don’t have to worry about it until later? That’s how I felt when, in January, I said I should take my Goethe Deutsch Zertifikat B1 German Proficiency exam in April. Because April is later. And, of course, with all the time between January and April, I was definitely going to study a lot and practice with my Rosetta Stone and I was definitely going to become completely fluent in those few months.
Except that, in reality, I was in America for the 2 and a half months immediately preceding the test and I definitely was not motivated to speak German when everyone spoke such beautiful native English. I mean, I did pull out my Rosetta Stone once. Sidenote: Actually, really funny, my dad knocked on my door and then busted in to see if I was ok. Turns out, I really do sound like I’m mad/yelling when I speak in German!
So to help all of you test takers in the future, here are the important lessons I’ve learned about reasons you do not take a language proficiency exam after not studying or speaking the language for 1/3 of the time you spent learning it:
- You will forget how to say simple things like “pants” or “My name is Lisa.”
It doesn’t bode well for you hen you can’t even remember how to introduce yourself. That’s the part of the exam that they exists because it’s so easy and they want to build your confidence a little before they slam you down with a 5-minute listening comprehension where you only understood Herr Mueller runs some company.
- You have to be careful – the testmakers try to set boredom traps! My reading comprehension essay was about the “real” inventor of the telephone, Philip Reis. Let me tell you, if the subject is boring in English, it’s double-to-triple as boring in German. They’re trying to bore you to sleep so you fail the exam!!!! Smile to yourself, take a deep breath, pretend you really care about if Philip Reis’ children knew a lot about his inventions, and then focus on the snack break that’s coming next.
|Who wouldn’t be interested in this man??|
- You will make a bad joke during the speaking portion of your exam. Something like “hey, maybe we should just do this whole thing in English and save ourselves all the struggle of speaking in German.” While the exam proctors slightly smiled at my joke, I think humor is usually lost on the Germans. I wonder if they deducted points before we even started?
- You will tell everyone you’re studying for the exam to motivate you to actually study for the exam, but that’s all the more people you’ll have to tell if/when you fail it. Maybe there should be a rule with tests like there is with pregnancy. Don’t tell anyone until 3 months after you’ve taken the exam??
- When in doubt, plan a vacation and bake a cake. I decided to make up a couple of situations like planning a vacation and baking a cake in my mind, and then studied entire conversations about these topics. That way, if the speaking portion asked me to get a present for my German teacher, BAM I’m baking her a cake. Or if it asks what to do with friends this weekend, BAM I’m taking a vacation. Even if that didn’t help much with the exam, I did find a new recipe for delicious chocolate cake and I have a sudden interest in visiting Berlin some weekend soon.
UPDATE: I got the news… I passed the exam!!!!!!!! And not only did I pass, but I got a “Gut” grade, which is the second highest category you can get (let’s call it a “B” for simplification).