Wait… Didn’t I just take this test for the first time!? 🙂
It really feels like yesterday! But today was the second and final time for us students at Middlebury in France to take the TCF (Test de Connaissance du Francais,” or “Test of French knowledge/comprehension”). The test isn’t for a grade or GPA or anything, but it’s just to track our personal progress throughout the semester.
My test was to start at 9 this morning, so I left my house at about 7:15. It was supposed to take about an hour to get there, and I wanted to be sure I would be able to find the building and room, because it was in an area I hadn’t been to often. It’s a good thing I did too, because it took a few minutes to walk to the building, and inside, it was a little complicated to find the exact location of the test. Still, I was there about half an hour before it started, so all was well. The first part was on the computer and it was oral comprehension and then written comprehension. I tried as hard as I could to listen well to the questions, and to thoroughly read the questions/articles presented as well. After that, I still felt like it had been difficult though, so I wasn’t feeling great.
Then I had about an hour before my spoken portion of the test began. I sat with Melanie and we began talking to someone who we’d met at the first TCF, a student who goes to Middlebury in the US and was the only one to choose to study in Poitiers, rather than Paris, this semester. First Melanie had her meeting for the conversational part, then I had mine. I knew sort of what to expect since it was always the same format, and I had done it before. The first part was an introduction of yourself, where you had no preparation time, and 2 or 2.5 minutes to talk. This part when fine, I think, but I did go off on a little tangent when I talked about what I was studying here in Paris. The second part is a conversation, and you have 2 minutes to take notes then you talk with the person overseeing and recording you. Mine was about TV shows, and it wasn’t too bad.
The third question… is a different story. There is a question that you need to respond to with an argument and examples to back it up. She read the question once, and I cannot even describe what happened because I don’t know exactly. Pretty much, my mind went completely blank. I don’t even know if I heard the whole thing. I know it showed on my face as well. I asked her to repeat the question (this is perfectly allowed; she told me at the beginning they want students to ask if they don’t understand) She repeated it and still, I kid you not, I just sat there and looked around as if expecting the answer to fall out of the sky.
The question was “Est-ce que tu penses que l’aide sociale réduit les rélations/l’unité familial ?” (Do you think that social assistance/welfare reduces familial relationships/unity?) I forget the exact phrasing at the end but it was something like that. I could not believe it. I have no idea what happened, but I just had nothing to say. And I had 5 1/2 minutes to say it in. I spent the time basically grasping for ideas and talking about as much as I could think of. It was disastrous.
But, it was over. I’m no longer at all excited to see my “progress” because I am certain the TCF grade is not going to reflect it. It is insane to me that I was able to meet a new family just the night before, talk solidly and fluently with them for quite a while with no trouble, but I cannot answer one question when it really counts. It is just my luck!
Anyway, after that, I had lunch with Melanie and our new friend. Then, I went with Melanie to Sacre Coeur and Montmartre and met with the family from the night before. We spent the day walking around and I had dinner with them and even more French relatives that night and it was so so lovely. Everyone was so kind and I loved speaking French with new people. I am so lucky to have such great people in my life!
Thanks for reading 🙂
(P.S. I saw the Moulin Rouge for the first time with the family today!)