Saturday, 24 December 2011

Are you experienced?

Quite a few times recently, when searching online for various things, I've come across articles posted on a site known as the Experience Project: basically it's a compendium of personal stories written about this-that-or-the-other, and submitted apparently 'by real people'.  Therein lies both its charm and its downside: some of the stuff seems mildly implausible to say the least.

Nevertheless, having become more than just a little irritated at getting messages requiring me rto register before being able to read something on the grounds that it was restricted to a 'mature audience' (although I suppose I can see why they need to do it), I duly registered - after all, it's free to join.

The organization is a little bit chaotic, but I found some groups to join fairly easily and thought I might as well throw in my two-cents' worth, so I wrote and posted a few brief "experiences" myself.  The one I really enjoyed writing was the story of my three years spent out in Hong Kong.  Some people can write very detailed and vivid accounts of what happened to them when they were eight or nine, but I'm afraid I'm not one of them, and all I was able to do was paint a bit of a kaleidoscope of impressions by piecing together the few definite facts which have stuck in my mind over the years.

I'll always remember it as a happy time, though I do, having by then attended six schools in as many years, distinctly recall experiencing at the age of eleven a definite sense of wanting to settle down somewhere permantly after we'd returned.

Monday, 5 December 2011

"Everyone's a winner, baby, that's the truth"

As at about roughly the same time last year, my Italian class this week took the form of a forty-five minute test.  When one of my classmates asked what the allocation of marks was, the tutor stunned us somewhat by claiming there wasn't one!  Apparently the purpose of the test is to show her how we're doing and how much of what she's taught us we've absorbed, but how she's going to be able to tell that apart from by actually "marking" the answers as right or wrong and/or "counting" the number of mistakes is something of a mystery.  It is of course increasingly unfashionable in educational circles to actually "fail" a pupil or student but even a simple grade serves the purpose of indicating whether you've done really well, or scraping through by the skin of your teeth.  But in a system which seems increasingly focussed on mediocrity, perhaps even that doesn't really matter much anymore.

There were four parts of the test.  The first was listening to a recorded passage of dialogue and picking out multiple choice answers for what the people were talking about.  That I really struggled with: the diction wasn't terribly clear, and they spoke fairly fast, so I was reduced to picking out recognizable words and hoping I'd guessed the context correctly.  So my answers were not much more than blind guesswork.

The second was an email from someone writing about their holiday, with some multiple-choice questions asking what they'd done and whether they'd enjoyed it or not.  Fairly straightforward with the odd unfamiliar word easy enough to guess from the context.

Number three was a grammar exercise filling in blanks by conjugating verbs correctly in the future tense.  We'd done that fairly recently, so I remembered how to do it - and not that many Italian verbs are irregular in the future tense anyway.

Finally a piece of composition based on a short scenario of having encountered a bag-snatcher in the park, and reporting said event to the police!   We had to use the passato prossimo (aka perfect tense) of at least ten out of a list of fifteen verbs, and having - I feel - rather done the perfect tense to death over the course of the last year, I managed to use all 15, although I "cheated" slightly by using a couple of imperfects, an infinitive and even a pluperfect or two!

We get the results on Friday!  Somehow or other, though, I think I've really got to get to grips with how to understand spoken dialogue better.