On April 22, Tim and I are scheduled to take a French test - actually four tests: Oral Comprehension, Oral Expression, Written Comprehension and Written Expression. We need to attain a certain level of proficiency if we then want to submit applications for permanent residency.
It seems simple. We studied French for a year. Then we lived and worked in a French speaking environment for 13 years. After a two year hiatus, we moved back to a different French speaking world and are living and working here. We go to the doctor, buy our groceries, pay our taxes, have parent-teacher conferences, go to planning meetings, go to church, teach Sunday School, take classes and do volunteer work - all in French.
Yet, when I started studying this morning and worked through a brief online get-your-feet-wet-and-see-what-the-questions-on-the-test-are-like web page, I realized the oral comprehension part wasn't going to be easy (or they are trying to scare people into paying for the study courses - but that sounds awfully conspiracy theory-ish). Maybe it's because my older than they used to be ears just hear slower these days, or the mild but definite loss of hearing acuity I've experienced the last few years or just the fact that oral comprehension has always been my weakest French language skill - but now I'm more than a little nervous about this test.
Every other practice section I did, I did really well. Oral comprehension? Not so much.
Being a good student... particularly a good test taker... is one of several things, I realized today, that I've allowed to define me. In the residency paperwork, we specify one spouse (i.e. Tim or myself) as the primary applicant. That person has to score higher than the other - and both Tim and I naturally assumed that person would be me.
Talk about pressure. Turning up the heat. Or mettant les bouchées doubles...
It is crazy how concern over one 25 minute, 29 question test scheduled a few weeks in the future has set my world a-spinning today...
You'd think that at my age, it would take a little more to upset the apple cart!
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