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Preparing for an exam and losing my English

6 years ago
Well, I have my oral exam tomorrow for the DELE A2 Español and I'm nervous! It's been a while since my last exams ( French in 1995). I feel ok about my speaking ability although I am aware that I have got into the habit of using a limited vocabulary to communicate my message. This is something I learnt while in China. I remember my joy when I learnt the words 'thing' 'this' and 'that' in Chinese - no need to learn the proper names of things. I had my finger and 'this thing, that thing.' Enough for shopping!

My biggest challenge, however, in my preparation of this exam has been writing and my heart goes out to all of you preparing for a language exam. I feel the pain!

Why is writing such a challenge? I believe it's because I don´t write much in my own language. I mean, I write text messages, emails, shopping lists...but not for any other reason. I write in shortened forms and informally. So, now in this exam I have to do something inauthentic, staged, and forced. This mindset is stopping me from enjoying the process - hence I'm writing a blog in English and not practising writing a story in Spanish!

As an English speaker, obviously remembering the verb endings is difficult. At the moment I'm suing this strategy: indefinido mainly has an 'i' the ending (except el/ella/ud which has ó, and tú form of verbs ending in -ar) and imperfecto has 'a' in the ending. It helps me even if it's not exact! Everyone finds their own trick.

The other challenge again is vocabulary. I wonder if this limited function is a function of having lived and worked with non-native speakers for the past 28 years.

Question: What are your biggest challenges when preparing for an exam? Have you noticed your vocabulary is limited? Has your native language become more economic?