The last exam in this basic Finnish language course is the reading and writing parts.
It’s the evaluation of how students understand basic passages and students can write in Finnish.
That was a quite interesting exam.
The first part of the exam showed a format written in Finnish and asked you to write your last name, first name, phone number, address, post number and e-mail address, which was evaluating your vocabulary of recognizing these “name”, “phone number” words in Finnish.
Then the second part started with a pair of short conversation of a question and an answering sentence. The 2 sentences with exactly the same meaning were written in English and Finnish respectively, which means there were 4 sentences, 2 in English and 2 in Finnish. The questions in this part asked students to compare the difference in structure between English and Finnish. The way of answering is to choose the parts with the same meaning in 2 different languages and to describe how they are different as well.
This part evaluated students’ understanding to the structure of Finnish sentences and also let students find out the difference in the structure by free description. Even though this is an exam, this question made students be aware of the difference in structure of Finnish again after lectures. No standard answers required, but correct understanding is necessary.
In the third part, it was given 14 Finnish words and asked students to pair up words to make new words. Finnish words could be paired up to make new words, so this part of exam could also be considered as a practice of making new words.
This part evaluated how many words students knew, but the words were not difficult ones. They are “car, man, radio, police, pen, sport, etc”. It’s interesting as well because you can apply your imagination into this exam, too.
The next part was to translate several short Finnish sentences into English. The words used in these short sentences were not taught, but they look somehow similar to English words. One sentence, for example, is like “Primary minister went to opera by taxi.”
This part evaluated how students are able to guess the meaning of a sentence with several words they don’t know. Although it’s not easy to guess the meaning, but the importance of guessing in facing new words or new grammars could be understood.
The reading part was conducted by reading an article in Finnish with around 300 words. The questions were about answering what are written in the article. For example, the genre of this article, the overview, the time and place of the event happened, and the last is to write out everything you knew from this article.
The final, writing part, is to write something about yourself in Finnish with more than 70 words.
Sooooo, how do you feel about this kind of foreign language exams? You like it? Hate it? You feel it effective? No?
In my feeling, the way of learning a foreign language in Finland is “Don’t just look for standard answers. How students can use the language is the most important point in evaluation”.
There is no ranking, no competition in exams, no opening individual grades to others. Correct answers are not everything. Descript your thoughts rather than choose an answer.
These are so different but so interesting to me….