Now I’m writing this on a bus, which is far from the last time I did this.
My transportation in Jyvaskyla, Finland, is almost bicycle, so I cannot read or write while moving as I did in Tokyo.
Today I would like to describe the exams of basic Finnish course.
Although this is the first and simplest course in Finnish language, I still feel nervous since this is the first exam in Finland for me.
Even though we just have lectures as short as 3 weeks, the exams include all 4 areas of a language, speaking, listening, reading and writing.
I’m wondering when was my first speaking test in my life…
I guess it was the speaking test in IELTS for studying abroad. Well…as old as 33 years old.
Why there were no any speaking tests in those 6 years of English studies in my junior and senior high schools?
Because the English teachers cannot speak? Or it’s due to the difficulties in ranking students fairly?
I believe the ability of speaking differs a lot from this.
Of course we cannot speak much since those were just lectures for 3 weeks.
However, we can speak something in the limited topics.
For example, greeting, do self introduction, ask for self introduction, ask the price, ask how to arrive somewhere or make an appointment.
If we use the words we are familiar with, it’s not difficult to talk about these in Finnish.
A speaking test in the initial stage of learning a foreign language shows the education of learning foreign language does consider speaking ability important. Furthermore, if students can get used to practicing speaking, I believe the balance of the foreign language education will be better.
The test was simple.
To talk with your partner in Finnish for 15 minutes.
The partner is one of your classmates and if you practice the topics, questions and answers in advance, that is not difficult.
Someone may think, “That’s just memorizing some conversation! That’s not real speaking!”.
Yes! It’s memorizing!
There is no way students can use vocabulary and grammars freely to express themselves just after learning for 3 weeks.
So, students need to memorize some basic sentences to know what to speak in each situation.
Nevertheless, students don’t take more than 3 hours to practice a 15-minute speaking test.
What a special experience I never had in the education in Asian countries!
By the way, 3 items were given by the teacher after the speaking test. One sheet that explains how you should be able to speak with the grade of 3 (the grades range from 0 to 5. 0 is fail. 1 equal to 50 and 3 equal to 70 in the 0-100 range), a video in a iPad for you to review your speaking test and one sheet for you to evaluate yourself.
I think these items were used to let you know your own performance and make you be conscious that the test is not for the teacher, not for the grades, but for your own growth and your own ability.
This is the message I got from these items.