Taking the Spanish DELE C2 exam - Part 4 - Written production

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Taking the Spanish DELE C2 exam - Part 4 - Written production

Postby s_allard » Fri Dec 01, 2017 2:07 pm

This section of the test was by far the most challenging for me. I knew what to expect but writing lengthy texts in Spanish has always been for me the hardest skill to practice. I do text messages and short e-mails in Spanish nearly every day but this is not the same as having to write a four-page mini-essay on a given topic. I must say that something that made a huge difference in my writing skills was having to write a letter in Spanish nearly every week for over a year and reviewing it with my tutor before sending it off. How I wished I had spent more time practicing generic essay writing.

The test consisted of three writing tasks of around 450, 150 and 300 words respectively. All of this to be done in 150 minutes. In the first task I had to write a blog post of about 450 words on a given topic using three documents. I forget the exact wording of the topic but the theme was consumerism in contemporary society. The documents were: a short recording of an interview with the former president of Uruguay, José Mujica, known for his simple lifestyle; an short text by a Peruvian economist on the importance of encouraging consumption for the economy and finally a text about the rise of the baby boom generation and economic prosperity in Spain.

The second writing task required was a 150-word press release giving the details of some educational activities organized by the mayor's office. I was given some notes taken at the meeting where the activities had been discussed.

Finally the third writing task was a 300-word essay that attempted to explain the information in two graphs on recent trends of attendance and revenues for Spanish cinema theatres.

All of this had to be handwritten out on no more than 8 sheets of lined paper. I must first say that I can't remember the last time in my life where I had to actually write longhand anything more than a sentence. I do all my writing on the computer and of course I take all the modern-day writing tools for granted. But it's a whole other game when don't have spell and grammar check or a dictionary and the internet to check the use of something. And of course you can't just change things on the fly.

The big challenge of this test was having to produce very quickly. As everybody here knows, when writing any sort of serious document you typically gather all the materials, make an outline to organize your thoughts and then write a draft that you revise as many times as necessary. And for really serious writing you will want to wait a while before reviewing the text again. And then in the best of cases have someone else look at the text. No writer just whips off a final document at a moment's notice.

Obviously in a test situation all of this goes out the window. My mistake here was spending too much time thinking, planning and taking notes before actually starting to write. The biggest danger here is running out of time. You have to start writing very quickly and in a coherent and legible fashion.

This is where practice is important but so difficult to do. Practicing writing, especially longhand, must probably be the hardest part of learning a language because it is often so artificial and boring when compared to listening or speaking and reading. And one absolutely needs some kind of corrective feedback. In my case all those weekly sessions going over my letters in Spanish turned out to be very useful. I had a basic foundation of constructions that I could use quite well.

Here I really wonder what the examiners are looking for. Given the tools most people use to write today, what should we expect handwritten texts produced under stressful conditions to look like? I would hope that not too much attention is focused on the mechanical aspects. As an examiner myself I look for mastery of idiomatic speech, the flow of ideas and overall comprehensibility.
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Re: Taking the Spanish DELE C2 exam - Part 4 - Written production

Postby smallwhite » Sun Dec 03, 2017 9:22 am

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