Hi all! I hope exams are going well for all of you!!!!!!!! I haven’t had a chance to mark the listening part of the exam, but I’ll get that done ASAP (as soon as possible) and we’ll have the final grades posted on the usual web site in a week or so. I have a good feeling about this round – so I’ve got my fingers crossed for you all! I would like to stress, as well, that the grading process is not really subjective, and the exams are designed to evaluate objectively correct or incorrect linguistic structures, usage and abilities. The idea is, if you came to class, practiced using the language, etc., you will have learned MORE correct linguistic structures and usage than if you didn’t. So – I would also like to take the opportunity to dispel the myth that exams in one session are designed to be more difficult than in another session (i.e. the Sept. or Jan. exam is more difficult than the May exam). This is simply not true. While it may happen occasionally that an exam in one particular year is more difficult than in other years because of the vocabulary etc., this is never by design, nor is it systematic – it is a function of the variety of the language. I assure everybody that the exams are always designed according to our estimate of the abilities appropriate for each level (B1, B2, C1). They may appear more difficult in September and January because you’ve just come back from vacation – where the mind, rightly, focuses on other things. Language learning is learning to play a musical instrument – it takes constant practice and is cumulative. Any interruption in the practice schedule and you begin to get “rusty”. Anyway – I don’t make this stuff up – “it’s been tested by research”! (If anyone can give me the reference of the passage in quotations to a song by the Clash – I’ll buy you a beer!)
The advantage of language study, unlike some other theoretical subjects – like, for example, quantum physics, is that you can PRACTICE as well as study – which means that things like music, reading novels or newspapers, singing or talking to yourself and with others in the language all helps you build familiarity and therefore reinforces the learning process. It works like physical exercise – actually – it IS physical exercise. So – into the linguistic gym with all of you!!!! And if you don’t like exercise, put on you favorite ENGLISH language CD and learn the words – we’ll help you work out the grammar! (please don’t learn grammar from rock stars – I love Keith Richards, but “by the holy ol’ jumped-up bald-headed galvanized Jesus”* don’t learn grammar from the guy!)
* typical emphatic statement from my area of Canada
Anyway – I really look forward to seeing you all in class again! Good night and good luck!
P.S. Any comments about the English language seminar series? Are there any topics you would like to see added in the future (have a look at the list on the bulletin board at Via Oddi.)