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What level German certification exam?

 Language Learning Forum : Immersion, Schools & Certificates Post Reply
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geoffw
Triglot
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United States
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 Message 1 of 21
03 January 2013 at 10:47pm | IP Logged 
Having just seen that, unlike the last few cycles, I might be able to have my choice of Goethe Institute certification
exams, should I decide to sit for one, I'm trying to decide which one would be most appropriate to take. My desire
for a certification is mainly personal: I want to have an outside authority validate my belief that I have a high level
of German proficiency. I used to believe that "I speak German" and that's all there was to it, but then I
discovered/accepted that I actually was pretty weak compared to where I could be, and set about to improve.

Tests are available for each of the CEFR levels from A1-C2, and I'm fairly sure that anything B1 or below is a waste
of my time, so that narrows it down a bit. I'm also quite confident of my reading and listening abilities. Six months
ago or so, I self-administered the passive skills sections of the C2-level sample exam from the GI website, AND I
PASSED. I barely passed, but I've improved since then. Based on CEFR level checklists online, I would self-assess as
at least C1.

So what's the question, you might ask? The problem is that I have no idea of where my active skills are, and I'm not
sure how to figure it out, short of picking an exam an sitting for it. I don't have a lot of confidence in my active
skills, especially speaking. I don't get a lot of opportunities to practice well, which has been a constant problem.
Furthermore, the more my passive grammar knowledge, vocabulary and store of idiom grows, the less confident I
get at speaking, because I can't quickly access the words that I know are in my brain, and I'm always double-
checking my genders and endings. I THINK I'm comfortably at B2 at worst, and possibly C1, but I just don't know.
FWIW, I saw a video Benny Lewis made of himself speaking German after apparently passing most sections of the
old C2 exam, including the speaking sections, and I thought to myself: I speak better than that! Does that mean I
could pass, too? On the other hand, I saw videos from the Goethe Institute (and Cambridge ESOL) showing
examples of C2 exam performances, and I was VERY intimidated. Even the C1 samples from Cambridge ESOL were
scary good.

So, 1) I'd really like to PASS something, but there's nothing but my ego at stake, 2) I don't want to waste the
opportunity on a lower-level exam if it's going to be way too easy, and

3) because I occasionally use my German reading skills in my job, it wouldn't hurt if I had something to document
that I have great passive skills, even if I don't pass a complete exam.

Registration is open until late March, and the exams are mid-April. Any suggestions?
1 person has voted this message useful



Quique
Diglot
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Spain
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 Message 2 of 21
03 January 2013 at 11:21pm | IP Logged 
If I were you, I would go for the Goethe-Zertifikat B2.

The active skills are the hardest to get, and B2 is already a pretty high level.
For instance, French universities demand foreign students to pass the DELF B2.

C levels are hard to get if you're not living in the country.


EDIT: I checked the demands of German Universities. Most of them demand TestDaF 3 (B2),
and a few demand TestDaF 4 (low C1).
Source:
http://www.deutschakademie.de/berlin-german-course/sprachpru efungen_TestDAF.htm

Edited by Quique on 03 January 2013 at 11:33pm

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Majka
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Czech Republic
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 Message 3 of 21
03 January 2013 at 11:22pm | IP Logged 
The speaking test of C1 or C2 level is a bit problematic. Passing it partly depends on how knowledgeable and comfortable you are in the subject (not language, the subject), and how much free reign you get to manipulate yourself out eventual problems.

I have mentioned in the past, that my C1 exam (not the Goethe institute one) was iffy, because I would have problem to discuss the subject for 20 minutes in my native language. Even the second one (football) didn't help, I had to divert from the sport itself to the discussion of football fans, rowdies and large groups mentality.

The C-levels are fairly unpredictable in this. Look at it like at a school leaving exam. You simply need some preparation - you may be expected to talk about literature, art or politics or environment friendly strategies. And you have to present it coherently.
The problem is that with my luck, passing a C1 or C2 exam means passing it in my weakest area, one I will never use again...

For me, the best way to prepare for this exam isn't as much to cram vocabulary, but to think about the presentation. What would I say about XXX? Even with sufficient active skills, such exercise (even in your native language) may help you.
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geoffw
Triglot
Senior Member
United States
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1134 posts - 1865 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Yiddish
Studies: Modern Hebrew, French, Dutch, Italian, Russian

 
 Message 4 of 21
03 January 2013 at 11:35pm | IP Logged 
Majka wrote:
Look at it like at a school leaving exam. You simply need some preparation - you may be
expected to talk about literature, art or politics or environment friendly strategies. And you have to present it
coherently.
The problem is that with my luck, passing a C1 or C2 exam means passing it in my weakest area, one I will never
use again...

For me, the best way to prepare for this exam isn't as much to cram vocabulary, but to think about the
presentation. What would I say about XXX? Even with sufficient active skills, such exercise (even in your native
language) may help you.


Thanks. While I think I know what one is, the concept of a "school leaving exam" is very foreign to me
unfortunately, as we don't have them in the US. I really don't know how people prepare for them or what they are
like. Are you saying that there are specific subject areas that one should guess or anticipate to come up in the
speaking portion of the exam? (FWIW, I'm less worried about the writing, especially at the B2 level. When I have a
little time to write, I can usually iron out most of my grammar reasonably well and recall some vocabulary, or at
least I can do so significantly better than I can speak.)

I think it's true that quickly planning an oral presentation is a skill on its own. I've tried recording myself speaking
freely before, starting with just a vague topic, and it was very stressful. Chatting with some people over a beer at a
German conversation meet up sometimes makes me stammer and think on my feet, but is still not super stressful
in that way.
1 person has voted this message useful



geoffw
Triglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4557 days ago

1134 posts - 1865 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Yiddish
Studies: Modern Hebrew, French, Dutch, Italian, Russian

 
 Message 5 of 21
03 January 2013 at 11:48pm | IP Logged 
Quique wrote:
The active skills are the hardest to get, and B2 is already a pretty high level.

C levels are hard to get if you're not living in the country.


Yeah, if I were considering an exam, but I knew I needed to improve my reading or listening skills a bit for it, I'd
say "no problem, I can do that in 3 months, I'll just spend more time on it." If the limiting factor is my comfort in
speaking, I might worry more about how I'll keep my speaking skills from getting any more rusty over those 3
months.
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Majka
Triglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
kofoholici.wordpress
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307 posts - 755 votes 
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Studies: Russian

 
 Message 6 of 21
04 January 2013 at 12:07am | IP Logged 
Look here for an example of C2 exam.
5 minutes speaking is around one page of written text, if I remember correctly. Try to pass it according to the description, cold (only with allowed preparation - no dictionary, no grammar book and no cramming) and with a stopwatch.
1 person has voted this message useful



geoffw
Triglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4557 days ago

1134 posts - 1865 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Yiddish
Studies: Modern Hebrew, French, Dutch, Italian, Russian

 
 Message 7 of 21
04 January 2013 at 12:22am | IP Logged 
Majka wrote:
Try to pass it according to the description, cold (only with allowed preparation - no dictionary, no
grammar book and no cramming) and with a stopwatch.


Any idea what a "pass" is? That's what confuses me.

I can try this later and see how it goes, but I suspect I could talk more or less on point for a decent while. I would
likely use mostly basic vocabulary to avoid stumbling for too long, but I would get a point across coherently. I've
answered questions quite similar to these on the spot (no preparation time whatsoever, and with all the
distractions of a crowded bar) at conversation groups before, and I've gotten my point across, but felt a bit silly
while doing so because I had to use such basic vocabulary to do so.
1 person has voted this message useful



Majka
Triglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
kofoholici.wordpress
Joined 4526 days ago

307 posts - 755 votes 
Speaks: Czech*, German, English
Studies: French
Studies: Russian

 
 Message 8 of 21
04 January 2013 at 12:41am | IP Logged 
No, at the C2 level (and the C1 to lesser content), you are expected to speak with advanced vocabulary - say college level for you, probably. Or making a good speech in front of employees, something like this. You get the preparation time just for this - prepare well through out speech, not to patch together a simple argument.

The examiner would stop you probably pretty quickly in case of using simple vocabulary and sentences. The well-structured and well-spoken argument/presentation is a must. For C2, "elegant" sentences are expected, for C1 at least a step above simple and basic vocabulary, even for your worst part. Sometimes, lack of vocabulary may be masked by good, well-spoken argumentation. It is much more difficult to pass with more words and less fluency. It doesn't mean necessarily flawless presentation, but the limits are fairly high.

What is written:
Achten Sie darauf, dass Sie
    – Ihren Vortrag gut strukturieren,
    – anspruchsvolle Sprache (Wörter, Strukturen) einsetzen,
    – Ihre persönliche Einstellung zum Thema klar machen.
...
Sie sind Teilnehmer oder Teilnehmerin am Seminar Neue Medien und halten dort einen fünfminütigen Vortrag...:
Zum Ablauf der Diskussion:
    – Vertreten Sie Ihre Meinung und geben Sie Beispiele.
    – Gehen Sie auf die Argumente Ihrer Gesprächspartnerin oder Ihres Gesprächspartners ein.
    – Versuchen Sie, Ihre Gesprächspartnerin oder Ihren Gesprächspartner von Ihren Argumenten zu überzeugen.


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