5 Reasons Why An Exam Could Help You Reach Your Goal Faster
Hate exams? Many people do.
Traumatic experiences at school or university can put you off doing any form of test, ever again!
But for adults who choose to learn a foreign language, studying towards an exam can, in fact, be a big help in ensuring you really do reach your goal of speaking and understanding a foreign tongue.
Here are 5 reasons why.
- Exams give you a clear objective. In language learning, your goals can often be very long-term (fluency) or difficult to measure (improve my listening comprehension). Enroll for an exam at your level, and your objective suddenly becomes short-term and (assuming you’ve enrolled for the right exam) achievable. That’s very motivating!
- Exams make you focus on your weak points. For example, it’s rare to hear a student say that they “want to learn how to write better”, unless their job specifically requires that they write in a foreign language. But writing is an essential part of a foreign language. Neglecting it, while understandable and typical, is foolish! Most foreign language exams, however, include a written paper, so signing up for one forces you to address the things you might otherwise ignore.
- Exams are motivating. You know you have an exam in two months. You’ve paid for it. You’ll get a fancy certificate if you pass. Nothing if you fail. Better get organised, then!
- Exams measure your progress. Truly, learners can be the WORST judge of what they are achieving. It’s not uncommon for my students to get to the end of a year-long language course and tell me that they’d like to do it again because they don’t feel they’ve improved. Sometimes it’s the best students who are the least confident. I’ll give them some test material: ” Try this. 60% or more and you’re ready for the next level. Less than 50% and you can repeat.”
- Exams are “proof” of what you’ve achieved. Ironically, my unhappiest students are often those with the most advanced level. In the next classroom, the beginners seem to be having a great time. Why the contrast? It seems that the more you learn of any language (including your own), the more you realise how much more there is that you will probably never master. This can be a truly depressing realisation! Taking and passing an exam is one way to dispel such gloomy thoughts – OK, you’ll never be as good in your second language as you are in your first, but at least you’ve got a certificate hanging on your wall to show you’ve reached level X.
If you’re studying Italian as a foreign language, CILS (Certificazione di Italiano come Lingua Straniera) is one of the most popular exam options.
The next exam date is June 7th 2012 and you can take the exam at any registered CILS center, whether in Italy or in your own country.
There’s a list of CILS centers on their horrible website, here: http://cils.unistrasi.it/articolo.asp?sez0=84&sez1=0&sez2=0&art=16
P.S. Our sponsor school, Madrelingua Italian Courses is currently running a promotion on course + exam. For more details, see their CILS page, here.