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.

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