One Down – Four to Go

The first of 5 exams which will make up my AS levels is now complete. Today, it was my German AS oral exam.

Similar to last year’s GCSE exam, this one started with my 15 minutes preperation time – I get a piece of paper with a picture and a paragraph on it. I have to look at it and write some notes to help me in the exam. I got a picture/paragraph about “green classrooms” and nursery/school groups which teach children about the environment.

I decided the best way to go about preperation time was to translate the text into English. That way, I’d at least be able to understand what the paper was telling me. Unlike at GCSE, the paper doesn’t tell me any specific points I need to prepare, so I have absolutley no idea what I’m going to be asked until it actually starts and the questions are asked.

Then, into the exam room. A large (empty) classroom, which smelled of fresh paint (that’s what you get when the exam takes place on the top floor of a brand new “temporary” building which once stood empty, next to the ground floor, on the front field).

In the class/exam room was Gisela – my teacher – sat next to one of those rather large cassette tape recorder which all language teachers seem to own. Next to that was a microphone not too dis-similar to the one on the stand next to my computer, which I use for all my radio stuff.

And the actual exam?

We get asked 4 questions on the stimulus – the answers to the first 2 can basically be quoted from the original text. The second 2 need a little bit more thought – they can either be very easy, or very stupid. The first 2 went OK. I knew roughly which bit(s) of the text to quote. All I needed to do was think of some connecting words so that I could quote 2 sentences whilst still making sense.

The 3rd one was stupid though. “Are project days useful?”. Its one of those questions which you start to answer, and then half way through the sentence you realise you don’t know how you’re going to finish the sentence. Or start the next one.

Unless of course you’ve cheated. But as I hadn’t cheated, my response had quite a few “Erms….” somewhere in the middle. (I should probably have tried to say the German word for “erm”, but as I didn’t have a dictionary on my, that wasn’t a possibility). I may also have inserted some random verbs and adjectives in the wrong place as I tried to give myself time to think.

So that question threw me off course a little bit, but the fourth question – about whether its important to visit Germany when learning German – was a little easier, as I had prepared a little bit on the topic as part of preperation for the main question/answer session where I had chosen education as my topic.

Since this section is more open, all we had to do was find a way of getting from the first section to the main area. I was asked about visits to Germany, and whether I speak any other languages.

This lead in the subjects I’m doing at college and what I want to do in the future: radio. And so I tried, in the best German possible, to explain about what I do for Corinium Radio – the website, messing around with the technical stuff, pressing buttons, talking… and playing music etc/usw.

And then, before I knew it, the exam was over. I had, somehow, managed to ramble/waffle (delete as appropriate) my way through quite a few minutes without speaking any English.

If the Edexcel moderator bloke wants a laugh, perhaps a video showing all the expressions which appeared on my face every time I made some sort of mistake would be useful.

Unfortunatley Luckily, there is no such thing. Cassettes only record audio.

Fred Hart

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