I visited with Benny the Irish Polyglot today, and had a pleasant conversation over lunch. He encouraged me to jump right into Swedish and find some Swedes here in Berlin to talk to. He also stressed the usefulness of CouchSurfing as a method for just meeting people. The accommodations part of it is only incidental.
He got me thinking about taking one of the Goethe Institute language tests too. He just recently did the C2 test, which is the highest level. He got his results back today, but I’ll let him tell the story on his own blog. 😉
Let me just say that it was ballsy for him to even think of taking the test so soon. He had some high-school German knowledge from years ago, but his speaking was hopeless when he first came here (very similar to me). My speaking has ramped up rather quickly since I’ve been here, but I need work in certain areas and I need to develop the fluidity of my speech a little bit. That’ll come with speaking practice, I suppose. I would also need to specifically target certain grammar aspects that I normally try to gloss over.
This has me thinking, though. In order to fulfill one of my goals of becoming a software translator, it’d be really handy to have such an official certification stating that I have a high level of German, which would go well with my existing resume full of computer skills. And while I’m a social person, I also pride myself on my self-study skills, and tests are basically all about studying. I think it’d be up my alley.
It also has me thinking quite a bit about whether I could manage to get a C1 (2nd highest) certification in Swedish before I leave Sweden at the end of September. It’s sort of thrilling to me to have such a challenge. Perhaps that would help motivate my studies a bit, besides the communicative aspect.
I have no idea how tough it would be, but I’m willing to give it my best shot. I’ve already spent plenty of time on Swedish, and I’ve still got 2 and a half months to go until the end of September. I guess it’s doable, so I’ll just have to aim high….and it will be high indeed, in the number of study hours required.
By study here, I don’t necessarily mean reading a bunch of dry grammar explanations and doing textbook exercises. Instead, I’ll be concentrating on finding audiobooks that I enjoy (probably the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, with which I am intimately familiar), and then just simultaneously reading and listening for as many hours per day as I can, while occasionally picking out some new vocabulary for later review. That part is not exactly Benny’s style, but I enjoy it.
The thing that *is* Benny’s style is getting out to meet people and have fun socially, which for me is where the speaking practice comes in. I’m content to learn the content of the language from reading my favourite books/audiobooks, but it doesn’t translate directly into speaking skills. I was very familiar with German when I got here, but I stumbled through my speech constantly. A certain amount of speaking practice is absolutely necessary, no matter how good your listening comprehension is.
Perhaps the best thing for me to do at this time would be to come up with another spreadsheet to track my Swedish progress, and have some targets to meet, with the end goal being a C1 certification. Then it’ll just be a matter of filling in the blanks each day and marching towards completion.