Okay, so I know WHAT the tests look like and what I have to practice. I spent a lot of time tonight that seemed almost wasted, although mostly it was identifying certain phrases that I need to simply memorize the structure of, and to recognize them when they show up in the test.
K. Written Exam, Part 1
The first part is a “fill in the blank” option … there is a gap in a phrase where I have 4 choices of a word to place in the sentence. Other times it is a long phrase. The farther I go in the test, the harder the practice questions become. I don’t know if that happens in the actual test. While there are no “tricks”, there are certain small elements to watch for such as concordance of verbs, verb tenses, prepositions, vocabulary, or sometimes, “faux amis” (false friends where a word in English is used, as an anglicism, rather than the real french word).
I was finally able to get the one-on-one french training started last week (some long delays due to administrative inertia followed by a few weeks of figuring it out with the new approach to delivery followed by a mixup that delayed me two more weeks), and the first week went about as I expected. I’m pretty rusty, my pronunciation is off (too anglo-sounding for some of the words), and I’m not using enough “mots liens” (linking words) to give myself a good structure. I have confirmed however that my three strengths remain — large vocabulary (with good retention), good flow (“mon debit”) and willingness to speak / elaborate. Lots of people trying for their “C” levels in government have blocks to their progression — some speak in stutter-steps i.e. start and stop, start and stop, start and stop as they search for words and structure; some have limited vocabulary specific to a work area, for example, and have trouble going beyond to talk about stories from their past; or some have both of the first two and combine it with a general inability or unwillingness to elaborate to say anything other than short answers. » Read the rest
I’ve been working on my structure for my review of French to support my next written test. Lots to review, but since a lot of it will be all over the place, with multiple tools, I need a structure to figure out what exactly I’m “reviewing”. It will also be the basis for future oral review too, so I’m trying keep some of those things in mind too.
Here are the categories I’m anticipating using for my note-taking:
Standard conjugations — Avoir and Être of course, plus about five or six other common ones;
Verb tenses — standard ones plus “linking” phrases for the past that require certain forms…I frequently have trouble with passé compose vs. imparfait, partly as I use a passive voice in English (including this sentence!), and as a result, often I would be using imparfait for a description. But the instructors kept telling me it had to be PC instead, yet the real problem was not verb tense but my tendency towards a passive voice in any language which requires imparfait to sound right to me…a simple solution?
For my last update, I finished with “I’m going to blog my way through my re-certification process, from low-level beginner back to moderately fluent. Wish me luck…”. Fast-forward 8 months, and not much changed. I pushed for training, and ran into massive administrative inertia as to what I was supposed to do for training. They’ve been working to update the policy, and in the meantime, my training request went nowhere.
I was initially assessed back in August or September and they recommended 52 weeks of training, 6 hours per week of self-study and 3 hours of practice. Not exactly the speed I was looking for. Plus I was supposed to be a priority. Try again, different process, okay, now they say 3 weeks full-time one on one initially, just need the paperwork. Five weeks later, I was still waiting for the paperwork, and when we pushed yet again, they said, “Oh, right, well we don’t do it that way any more, now it has to be a 12 week course.” » Read the rest
When I left off my last update, I fast-forwarded through seven years of non-use of my french at work. Non-use is a bit of an exaggeration, I use it occasionally, but I certainly don’t “work” in French. More like active listening in meetings. It’s even worse over the last 10 years as I’m working in planning. Almost all planning in government is done in English. I had a francophone director previously, and even he said he didn’t know any of the french terms for the various documents. Phrases like the Program Activity Architecture, now the Program Alignment Architecture, are shortened in speaking even in French to “le PAA” even though the french acronym is simply the inverse (AAP). But nobody says the words that spell out PAA or AAP, and even francophones pronounced the acronym as just the letters P-A-A (not pay-ah-ah). Sad, but true. None of the inputs I receive are written in french, none of the drafts coming from other branches are in french. » Read the rest