Friday, June 21, 2013

Studieskolen - Module 4.2, Exam Part I

It's been hot and humid in Copenhagen over the last couple of days.  While 70+ degrees (fahrenheit) never used to feel especially hot, here in Copenhagen it feels oppressive.  Something about the combination of the angle of the sun and the high humidity.

That, and the total lack of air conditioning anywhere.

It was in these sweaty conditions, and accompanied by the seemingly unending sounds of construction outside of the Studieskolen building, that we took the first part of our module 4 exam.

The test was fairly similar to previous exams, although it seemed to take much longer.  We started with one of two written bits, for which I wrote a letter about where and how I grew up to a fictional person compiling stories of people's childhoods.  We then moved on to the listening portion, in which we listened to various passages and answered questions based on them.  This was then followed by the reading and understanding portion, where we had a variety of tasks involving reading or scanning through texts and answering questions or filling in blanks.  The teacher was kind enough to break up the two long writing assignments, so we finished with the second of these.  The final written task asked that we write an article for the fictional school newspaper discussing the pros and cons of volunteering to visit lonely elderly people in connection with the Red Cross.

We were given the test without any breaks, and the whole thing took 3 hours.

I was sweaty, tired, and starving when I left, but I'm 99% sure that I did just fine.

Providing I didn't somehow manage to bomb the whole thing, and that I don't completely forget how to speak Danish in anticipation of the spoken bit of the test on Monday, my plan is to attend module 5.1 over the Summer.  The dilemma I briefly had was that my current teacher, who I have learned so much from, is taking the six-week Summer break and not continuing on to module 5.1 until August.

The solution?

I will most likely repeat module 5.1 again in August, because he's definitely the best teacher that I've had here so far.  Plus, the more time I can spend in module 5 before the PD3 exam in November, the more likely I will be to get the minimum 10 required to move on to module 6.

Whatever it takes.  Within reason.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Studieskolen - Module 4.2, EXAM PANIC!

They've gone and scheduled our module 4 exam.  It'll be broken up into two bits.  The first bit will be a week from this Friday, and the last bit the following Monday.

As far as the actual make-up of the test, I don't have too many details.  What I do know is that, much like the module 1 exam, we will have a spoken portion in which we are given a topic at random (from a list of three books we've read and two topics that we've prepared), and we are supposed to talk about the topic for two minutes, followed by questions from the teacher.

As far as the rest of the exam, for now I assume it will be much like the previous exams: some reading comprehension, some listening bits, and a written portion involving writing letters and/or emails.

To be honest, I'm not especially panicked about this exam.

It's the module 5 exam that's stressing me.

We were given Monday's class to decide on and research the two topics of our choosing for the spoken section of the test, and I found myself sitting at a computer next to our new teacher.  I took the opportunity to grill him on what would be needed to proceed to module 6 after the PD3 exam at the end of module 5.

He explained the grading system, which is on a scale of 12.  To pass the PD3, you only need to score a 2.  In order to get Danish citizenship, you need to pass the test with a score of at least 4.  In order to be allowed to proceed to module 6, which I would need in order to take university courses in Danish...

I'll need to score a 10.

So, the plan is to seriously buckle down.  I've downloaded a couple of language-learning apps onto my iPad (the most useful of which, so far, is called Memrise, and teaches languages and loads of other topics), and plan to jump back into the Rosetta Stone practice as well.  My main problem is, as always, remembering the vocabulary.  I find myself looking up words a dozen times and still not being able to remember them the next time.

My plan, as well, is to try to continue to take Danish classes through the Summer break.  There's only one day class offered at Studieskolen during the break, and my teacher admitted that it's entirely possible that there won't be room for everyone and that there's nothing I can do to ensure a spot, so...

Just gonna cross my fingers and hope that everyone else decides that they need a Summer vacation.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Chatting with Children

Here's a conversation that I had today with a little boy who lives in our building (translated from Danish, as he has not yet started to learn English):

Little boy: What have you been doing today?
Me: I had Danish class this morning.
Little boy: I think you speak Danish well.
Me:  Thank you! But there are still a lot of words that I can't understand.
Little boy:  Yeah, me too.

All together now... Awwwwwww!

It has actually been really helpful and confidence-building to speak with the children in the neighborhood lately.  The language is new-ish enough to them that they don't find it strange or frustrating if there are words I don't understand.  In fact, I found myself nervously not unsure about a question that some kids in the dog park asked me a few weeks ago, but they happily obliged me by miming the action of picking up the dog.  They were just asking if they could hold the puppy.

I'm getting to the point where I understand quite a lot of what people are saying around me.  In fact, I tend to understand more than I think I understand.  The trouble comes when someone asks a familiar question in a slightly unfamiliar way, and I completely lose the context and assume they're asking something I won't understand.  For example, I was just in the dog park (again) and a little boy asked me how old my dog was.  Trouble was, he didn't ask it in the way most people ask, which is "How old is he?" or "Hvor gammel er han?" in Danish.  Instead, he asked "How many years is he?" or "Hvor mange år er han?"  I knew the words, but wasn't used to being asked that way, so it took me a moment to wrap my head around the question.

It's all just going to take lots of practice.

And I'm going to need to start stepping up my Danish practice and consumption outside of class if I plan to continue on to module 6.

After class today, I asked my teacher if there was anything special I should do in order to continue on to the 6th module, as most people only go through module 5.  The big Danish fluency exam takes place after module 5, and only those who want to take university courses in Danish continue on to the 6th.  She clarified that I will need to get a very high score on my module 5 exam in order to be allowed to take module 6, so she recommended watching lots of Danish television, reading lots of Danish books and newspapers, and listening to Danish radio.  Apparently, once you take and pass your big module 5 exam (known as Prøve i Dansk 3), you cannot be readmitted into module 5 classes without paying for them yourself.  So, if I pass the Prøve i Dansk 3, but don't have a high enough score to continue to module 6, I'll have to pay to re-take classes and to re-take the exam.

So... you know...

No pressure.