Cavesa wrote:Hi PM, a long time since I've read your log and tons of news! Congratulations on taking the C2 exam, no matter the result. It was a courageous choice and you've already achieved so much!
Thank you, Cavesa. And thank you for posting such a detailed reply, I truly appreciate it. I'll reply to your individual comments below.
I'm also surprised you were offered and given feedback. I didn't know this was even possible. Yes, more preparation could have helped, especially with writing, but I think your performance was therefore even more admirable. The time limit is really harsh for writing, I agree
My last 1/4 of writing was real trash.
Thank you. And to add to it, I've always struggled with time limits in my native language. 9 out of 10 exams were a struggle for me due to time. I think I process things differently than those who fly through exams. I get bogged down in detail, but I cannot seem to function without that - I simply cannot rush over things. The solution is to know a topic extremely well, so that I feel confident enough to pick up the pace.
PeterMollenburg wrote:Oh and the subject was regarding stress. I had to write an article on the stresses of modern life for a well-being magazine and discuss how, regardless of the level of stress we can be under, we have the ability to overcome it. I couldn’t complain about the topic, it wasn’t too difficult and I had some personal ideas I could draw on as well.
Aaaaand that's exactly the problem. Careful with the personal ideas. Getting "too far away from the dossier" is a huge NO in this exam. It is all about the fragile balance between not copying from it and not getting too far away from it. Also, I find such a topic rather challenging due to being a bit "dumb". That's why I recommend people the science version so much. One of the fellow candidates at my DALF was complaining about a similar topic (whether working is good for your mental health, again cosmo-like magazines as the only resources). Too shallow to fully develop based on the dossier (and there aren't actually that many variations on the same superficial phrases, so it is hard not to "copy"), but too easy to mess up by including too much of your own stuff. The "rephrasing" mentioned in the feedback is a huuuge thing to focus on. And the text structure is easier to deal with, when the topic is a bit easier to develop in a clear direction rather than in circles (which happens with the "dumb" topics).
Useful feedback there, Cavesa. Thank you. I was unaware of this issue but I think, from memory, I was somewhat aware not to go too personal, but the degree to which I knew it was an issue, I'm unsure now and it's all a bit vague, so perhaps I did cross that (forbidden) line.
Cavesa wrote:In the oral part, the technical problem was really unfortunate. I had normal headphones (the listening was done in the same room with candidates doing other levels) and it was a sort of a radio discussion between various experts too. The topic was easy, natural disasters and the environment and blahblah all that we've heard a thousand times. I found the comprehension very easy thanks to having tons of practice with extensive listening. That's where the intensive listening is much less powerful, the extensive listening forces you to catch things right away and fill the gaps well and fast. And again, the variant science was more previsible than the humanities. You're brave to have taken the humanities, I admire that! But I am sure you did really well in the more audio independent part. A few mistakes are normal.
Okay, I can see your arguments make a lot of sense now, for why it's best to go down the science path. The audio issue I had I felt in the end was not that bad as I struggled with some portions of the audio anyway, but perhaps I'm wrong. Of course, it would not have meant that I would've passed the exam had all the audio been intact, however technical issues are not something you need in such a strenuous exam.
Additionally I got a bit muddled at times with my own grammar with simple things like verb tenses during the speaking component. I've never really worked French verb tenses that much throughout my studies, as you come across them so much in courses with sections on conjugation and so on, actually in any material really it gets reinforced somewhat. However, never really having done a course just on verb conjugation might mean that I'm not perfect at times and that day, perhaps with the added stress and being aware of the examiners focusing on me, I got a little muddled on two to three occasions.
Sounds like more extensive activities might be the go for me. The problem is, as an example with my speaking, I seem to have needed to develop pronunciation and speech slowly over time pulling apart the structures before speeding myself up over time to the point where today I'm speaking French continuously (when not speaking some Dutch) with my children, often very fast without issue. Of course, try to speak on the technical sides of something more complicated that I don't fully understand nor have the vocabulary for and I'll slow down, yet I would also slow down in English, perhaps just more in French. Anyway, I think this is why I prefer intensive study at times - to pull things apart and analyse before I decide to speed things up again. I think this is why I want to do some intensive listening before moving onto more extensive listening again, as it's a little like going back to the drawing board to rebuild a foundation that i'm not entirely comfortable with. Yet, perhaps I just need to move on and do more extensive listening instead and get used to the pace.
I think you may have had a bit too high expecations about the results. From what I was told, it is rather rare to get more than 35 in either of the two parts. That also leads to majority of the successful candidates being rather well rounded, with similar results in both parts and points somewhere between 50-75. I was an exception, with just like 16 in writing and 44 speaking (if I remember right, I don't have the certificate at hand, but it was something like that), so my overall grade was not too awesome, but the speaking and listening really ruled. (a funny extra note: I heard "the foreign doctors are a problem" for the first time in person just a few days ago. And one of the arguments was "it is simply too hard to learn the langauge to a professional level". Well, hello, am I just a computer simulation or what?
Ah, this I didn't know, that it is so hard to get high scores and it makes me feel better, for sure. Also, given your lower score in the writing as that's where I didn't do so well, as you now know. Sure my speaking could've been better, but my writing was the weaker part.
It's great that you can prove some people wrong having come so far with your French, Cavesa that you can use it in your profession, a profession where lives are at stake, the pressure of the work can be enormous, there is specialised vocabulary and the registers of communication are quite varied. Well done! You're an inspiration and a rarity, as I'm sure there are indeed many medical professionals in France that have less than adequate French. I am assuming this as there are some here in Australia that could have better English, although the problem here is not enormous. However, with French not being as studied as English on a global scale, I'd imagine the problem is worse there. Not to mention the difficulty people have with French phonemes with both input and output.
Cavesa wrote:I really admire the number of hours and work you've put in, that's awesome. Really, you're one of the best success stories to point newcomers to!
Thanks, Cavesa. I get the impression that smallwhite feels similarly. I certainly put in the hours to get to where I am, but he job is not done and time constraints now are bigger than before. However, I shall continue until the job is done, and afterwards I expect that French will always remain a focus in my life.
Cavesa wrote:Just hope you won't mind if I criticise your follow up plan a bit, as I'd say it doesn't address the valuable feedback from the exam too much. I'll shut up, if my notes are not welcome, sorry. But it is just so tempting, as I see you just a little bit under your goal and you definitely have the potential to pass the DALF next time and get even further on!
-Hugo French Advanced is actually not advanced. It is not cefr labeled officially, but looks like a B1ish course, based on the reviews, description, and from what I remember having seen a pdf. Assimil is nice, but again, too basic. These resource will not help you with these issues "Morphosyntaxe: that is to say, the grammar.
The idea here with Assimil was to go over some of my previously studied material to help solidify some fading grammar concepts. It's easy once you get comfortable in a langauge to actually forget how some of the rules of grammatical structure of the language work as you've been 'using' the language for so long and you tend to get a feel for things as opposed to going by memorised grammatical rules. Thing is, some things I remain a bit uncertain on, and I just expected that some revision of old material can do justice. As for Hugo French Advanced, despite the level, I do certainly get something out of this. It's no Progressif/-ive series, but I don't feel it's a waste of time.
Cavesa wrote:At a C2 level, there should be nearly no mistakes and a variety of tenses and structures
Lexique: at a C2 level, there should be no approximations and the vocabulary should be precise and varied". The real advanced courses could. The Progressives have a Perfectionnement level, there are a few C1/C2 mainstream coursebooks, and so on.
Yes, and I intend to use such coursebooks as well. When I note down that I am using Hugo French Advanced and the like, this is what I begin with. I have a list as long as all my arms and legs (I have 8, it's time to confess, I am actually a spider)... sorry, off track there. I may be currently working on Hugo (not that
Advanced), but there's some meatier stuff on my list. Again, for me, reinforcing my foundation is important to moving forward.
Cavesa wrote:Kwiziq might be helpful, and a huge srs deck. Perhaps going the "Brian way" (the person who took a C2 Italian and German exam and wrote a great blog about it) and ankiing tons of resources could fit you.
I have considered such approaches, but I think SRS programs such as Anki just drive me nuts. I guess I've got to also not lose sight of my personality and prefererd learning styles but also be willing to listen to others and recognises my weaknesses, which may mean taking on activities I don've overly enjoy at times. However, I think I can do without SRS programs. I'm not ruling it out, but for now I'd prefer not to go down that path as I just don't enjoy the interaction with such programs after I get past the exciting decision to SRS many things it all gets a bit much. And I'm in danger (constantly) I've getting lost in the details - I think it doesn't suit my personality.
Cavesa wrote:I went mainly the extensive input way, as you know, and it worked for me, but I still think I could have achieved more. It is hard to give you any advice to prepare vocab for the humanities DALF, but it was easy for the science, the popular science magazines and a scifi tv show were a miracle.
Well I have gone with the Bien-dire
magazines as I love the resources, the topics are varied and the articles are graded as per CEFR. It's not easy to either develop or find content to build on C1-C2 vocabulary and idioms, but these magazines have tons of articles on a wide variety of topics with their accompanying word lists. A literal gold mine. People get put off by the fact that it's a 'learning' magazine. This resource is so overlooked. I do not have to write up cards (srs), I don't have to worry about insufficient extensive material covered to cross enough of the rarer words and expressions, I don't have to bother with goldlists or other such lists. I have several years of these magazines with accompanying audio and all the work is done for me. They are not written by English speakers, they are high quality resources developped in Lyon and a joy to use for vocabulary and idiom acquisition.
It's what I'm enthusiastic to use, so I'm sure it'll work (and it has been, as I've been consistently using this resource for some weeks now).
Cavesa wrote:-to your listening: I really think extensive listening can give you much more value than intensive at this point. And original and demanding series, with not always clear sound, and so on. Engrenages, Kaamelott, Hero Corp, those are some good examples of stuff that will make the real life or any radio discussion seem easy.
I already watch series in my spare time and I just don't feel that great with them. Perhaps the problem is I don't do enough of it, but I was thinking, as mentioned above, that by going back to the drawing board and instensively working the issue for while before returning to more independent (without transcripts, pausing etc) extensive work in due course could be a good approach. Although, also as mentioned I think I like your idea of extensive watching/listening to catch on eventually with the pace. I guess I only have so much room in my routine and beginning intensively with aim to move to extensive felt like I could cover it all without stretching my current routine over too many activities.
Cavesa wrote:-"Lecture énorme" is a great idea. "Un livre" won't do, as you surely know. How about the SC? In the months before my DALF C2, I was basically reading a book per week (two weeks, if it was a long one). It helped a lot! If you want to do intensive reading for vocabulary, it is probably a great idea too (but I still believe extensive reading offers many advantages that the intensive simply doesn't). Perhaps you might like books like "pour les nules" on various topics that might happen to get into the exam. The humanities version is really vast and unpredictable, from medieval languages, through dumb magazine psychology, to philosophy or history. So, intensive reading of non fiction and extensive of fiction and non fiction might be very helpful.
No, you've misunderstood. Like 'Hugo French Advanced' which was just the first course I listed, 'un livre' means pick a book and get reading, then another, and another and another. I certainly didn't intend on sticking to one book. I agree with what you say about extensive reading. As for the SC, I've done a couple and don't need to enter it. I know I've got a certain amount of time to read most days and tracking all that reading currently via the twitterbot and the SC is just an added distraction, as I will read as best/fast as I can with the time I have regardless of being in the SC or not.
PeterMollenburg wrote: One important thing not covered is writing, but I will definitely pursue this later. I don't want to spread myself too thin and I feel that when/if I'm ready to prepare for a Dalf exam again at some point, that the resources for exam prep and some focused tutoring will come into play when that need arises (and it will be a lengthy ongoing task), should I cross that bridge. Building a more solid foundation in the other skills will help me when/if it comes time to work on my writing and organisation of my writing pieces.
You're absolutely right that the other stuff (especially, grammar, reading, etc) will affect your writing a lot. But focusing on it will be important. There are a few more resources available nowadays, but it still sucks. You have probably noticed my struggles in this area. Finding something to learn from is hard. Finding someone to learn from is even harder. Random tutors from italki or elsewhere won't do. Either they have experience with preparing people for DALF, or they are worthless for this. Don't make the same mistake I did years ago, don't be anyone's guinea pig. Perhaps preparing a bit like for the Bac and finding real French professors might be a good thing to consider.
Okay, this is where I've decided to definitely alter my study plan based on your recommendation. I've taken out the dedicated 30 minute session for review of the easier courses (Assimil etc), which I will still do in 5 minute chunks perhaps, and filled this time slot with exam specific coursebooks. Much of that includes writing practice, as you probably know.
As for tutors, I had one in mine and she's been a Godsend in the past for my exam preparation. She's a former examinor for these exams and knows her stuff as well as my history as since the B2 exam she's been there for me in the lead up to various exam prep sessions. I was considering including her (italki sessions) as a semi regular activity for the long stretch. Perhaps once a fortnight or once a week over six months to a year to predominantly help my issues (writing being the big one) to help ensure success at the next sitting. Although, I must add, that I've definitely not yet decided to sit any exam at any point yet, so don't hold me (anyone) to having declared I'm sitting the C1 or the C2 again in the near future, I've definitely not stated that!
To finish this too long post: congratulations! You've achieved a lot! And not having passed the DALF this time is not that bad, not at all. You're still one of my favourite French learners in our community
Thank you, Cavesa. And you're definitely one of the best at providing myself and others with excellent feedback, so it goes without saying, that you're one of my favourite forum members! Thank you, kindly!