Friday, December 08, 2006


Besides the VERY EXCITING new pictures posted with the help of my father, I have had a really interesting week. On Wednesday I took my midterm Oral Proficiency Exam. This exam is what gives someone their language rating.
As I posted in my first blog, I had tested at the 1- level. To work for the government or in business, one must at least obtain a 2/2+. I will not find my test scores for another couple of months, but I am certainly nervous about them.
The test for me worked like this: I was told to be prepared to take the exam at 1510 on Wednesday. At 1510 I went into a room, alone, with the examiner. The examiner was Dr Ben Rifken (former Chair of the Slavic Dept at Univ of Wisconsin). Dr Rifken began by just freely chatting (in Russian) about how I was doing, etc. He then asked me to give a brief autobio. From what I told him about myself, he then drew his next set of questions (i.e. "You work? Where?" or "You have a sister? What does she do?"etc) it was really very relaxed.
This portion lasted for probably eight minutes. It is the more conversational portion of the test. The next part was the dialogue. Dr Rifken randomly selected an index card with a prompt on it. The prompt was, "You are renting out a room in you house. A candidate calls to rent out the room. Interview him to find if he would make a good house mate." That portion went alright. Though, for me, it was hard to come up with questions to ask. I feel that I probably did ok on that portion too.
Dr Rifken concluded the test with just chatting about the social life in Vladimir. All-and-all it was a fun experience.
What mistakes did I make that I would suggest others taking an OPI look out for? 1. Use the formal singular (Wy) not the informal singular (Ty) (this won't effect your score, but it is courteous). 2. Use up all the time you have talking. The examiner should need to cut you off because you are talking too much. 3. Try to come up with some original responses (i.e. you know that he is going to ask "Как Дела? " ("How are you?"), try to say something different than "Хорошо" ("Well"). When the examiner asked me how I was, my answer was something along the lines of, "Знаешь, все хорошо. Но, сегодня меня болит голова! Вчера была вчерника и сегодя это похмелье..." ("You know, alls ok. But, today I have such a headache! Yesterday was a party and today this hangover...") The examiner can't use the contents of what you say against you. Actually, my statements about having a hangover lead our discussion in the direction of the very social side of life in Russia... Which is easier to talk about than the political side. I had also prepared the hangover response in advance, along with some other uncommon things to say to the examiner.
I hope all is well! Enjoy the pics! They will be labeled soon!

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