Dreams of A Diplomat: Aprendiendo Más Español

by Just Juan

“I wanted to challenge you and see if you could handle just a little bit more” – Claris Dance

A little over 6 weeks ago, I wrote about my 1st evaluation in the Spanish Basic for S-2/R-2 Skills class. Last Wednesday was my 2nd evaluation. Just like the evaluation in mid-April, I was assessed on my ability to speak the Spanish language, listen and adequately translate the language, and read the language. I was pretty nervous going into it. Of course, I prepared very diligently for this evaluation. I spent a lot of time practicing my personal biography. I spent a lot of time practicing answers to possible questions about places I’ve lived throughout my life. I definitely practiced “me” and “mi” a lot. I spent an hour a day listening to Spanish news and I got really acquainted with Destinos: An Introduction to Spanish, a telenovela—or Spanish soap opera—that teaches the basics of the language in its storyline. I was nervous but I also felt as prepared as I could get.

My evaluator—a very nice woman from South America—was one of the most interesting people I’ve met in the Spanish Department. She really put me at ease with our small talk before the evaluation officially started. That was perhaps a gift and a curse for me, however, during the speaking portion. On one end, because I felt so at ease and comfortable with her, I was able to do very well on my personal biography…maybe even too well. On the other end, the topics I had available to me for the presentation were challenging because they involved the use of terms that weren’t exactly in my vocabulary. The final part of the speaking portion was the interview. I felt like I asked some safe questions that would allow me to use context clues if I wasn’t able to pick up on words she was using. However, I think she saw right through that and challenged me not so much with speed but with some unique sentence structure and use of a tense I wasn’t exactly comfortable with. The reading portion of the evaluation was much easier, for the most part. Again, that was a gift and a curse. I was able to breeze through the short readings, translating them and giving really good gists of what they said. Apparently, this impressed her tremendously and she dropped a long reading on me that scared me upon first look. I took the full 12 minutes to work on the reading and even asked for a couple more minutes. I was able to give the evaluator a review of what the article read like to me. Fortunately, for me, I was able to decipher about 20% of the reading. When the evaluation ended, I had a strong feeling that I may have been moving up to R-2 in reading. The speaking: I was extremely nervous. I felt as if I flunked it and would stay at S-1. When I met with my language supervisor last Thursday, he didn’t waste any time in giving me my score: S-1+/R-2. He went on to indicate that I was a very strong reader of Spanish and that I could possibly be a 2+ there.

I reached the goal I set forth back in April. And now that I’ve met the requirement, I can relax concerning reading for now. There’s nothing more to prove there. The speaking score was what my supervisor and I had set as the mark for me. I achieved that and now I have 4 weeks remaining to get from S-1+ to S-2. I think I’ll be ready.

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