Friday, 11 May 2012

Language Assessment

How do you know that your language skills are sufficient? Assessing one’s language level is a subjective process. People tend to either under- or overestimate their skills.  One of the reasons I’m no big fan of people who claim to be fluent as soon as they manage to have a conversation about the weather is that these subjective assessments often appear on CVs and job applications. In such cases, the perceived level of knowledge can give an unfair advantage to the weather conversationalists.

There are exams one can take. Exams that are expensive and may even require travelling. I tell you, the nearest language centre offering the possibility to take an official exam in Polish isn’t exactly next door. These exams require dedication. They are often a last option, at least for me, for getting some kind of formal proof of knowing a language.  

The reason I’m writing about this is that I need to get some certificates. I have a plan, you see. And for that I need formal proof of my language skills. 

Of the languages I know I have sufficient proof (according to Finnish requirements) that I know three.

Swedish: I took my A-levels in Swedish, and my grade in Swedish was good enough to ensure that I officially know Swedish.

English: a degree from a British university is enough to prove a sufficient level of English.

Having a university degree in a language is also sufficient. 
Therefore I have proven knowledge of Russian and Hungarian.

I need to take a language exam in Spanish, Polish and Finnish. Finnish is my official mother tongue, but since I took my A-levels in Swedish (I had no chance, as far as I know, to choose Finnish) I have no proof of this. This is the ironic part of the story. Believe it or not, I think that a Finnish exam would be the most difficult one of these.  The level is different, even though I plan on taking both Spanish and Polish at C1/C2*.

Time to study :) 

*C1: Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning. Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices. 

C2: Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. Can summarise information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation. Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in the most complex situations. (source: Wikipedia)

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