Monday, November 8, 2010

The A, B, Cs of learning German

One of my goals in Germany is to pass the TestDaF language proficiency exam required for university entrance. I intend to study for my master’s degree in Munich. Exactly what I’ll study is not yet clear. But no matter what I select, I first need to prove that I can read, write and understand the language at an academic level. Sure, no problem. Except that I need to do this by June if I plan to enroll in the winter 2011 semester. Crap…I mean CERF.

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is a system created by the Council of Europe to help standardize learning. Mastery of German – and most other European languages – is divided into six levels:
  • A1 – beginner
  • A2 – second level beginner
  •  B1 – intermediate
  • B2 – second level intermediate
  • C1 – advanced (or upper intermediate)
  • C2  - mastery
To help me reach the Cs, I’ll be attending a language school in Munich. But the level at which I should start was a slight area of debate between Thomas and me. He thought that since I’ve been more or less studying the language (off and on) for awhile now, I would easily be in the B category. But the As were more to my liking. So we put it, er, me to the test.

First I took this free online test, from Cornelsen. It featured a separate test for each level. Result: B1. Score one for Thomas. But I still wasn’t convinced. So if at first you fail succeed, try, try again, right?

So then I checked out another online test offered by Deutsche Sprachschule Dresden. This one was an 80-question test which, at the end, ranked you as A1, A2 or B1. I scored A2. Success! Sort of…

It’s not that I don’t want to be challenged, and I could probably handle the B1 course. But, I’d like to feel comfortable in my first class, not frustrated and incompetent. Besides, I figure adjusting to live in Munich will be challenging enough in the beginning, and I’m sure there will be plenty of other opportunities to feel inadequate.

So it’s off to A2 class in just a short few weeks!

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