Now, you’ll come to find that, at university, there are parts of our course that you like, and others you don’t. That’s completely natural, don’t feel bad. Just because you’ve chosen this particular subject to study at degree level doesn’t mean you have to love every second of it.
Learning a language has many perks. That feeling of achievement when you hold a conversation completely in a foreign language is like no other. As is the moment you finally understand a part of grammar that’s been bugging you for ages. Also, once you reach a certain level of competency, you realise that you have a skill for life that impresses a lot of people. No one can take that away from you. But it’s not an easy road. No, my friend, it is not. There are many aspects of language learning that I will be happy to never have to do again come Graduation. Which aspect will I miss least of all? The Listening Test. By 3pm tomorrow I will have completed my last ever French listening comprehension test. And what a feeling that will be.
To complete the listening test you will need: 1 pair of headphones, question sheets, a pen, and phenomenal observational skills. You’ll then be given an extract to watch/listen to. It’s usually a news item or radio segment. In first and second year it will be a video extract, so you can use the visual aids to guide your understanding of the topic. Sadly, final year students do not have this advantage, meaning our extract is audio only.
You’ll be given 50 minutes to complete the test, and those 50 minutes fly by, so you have to use your time wisely. Familiarise yourself with the questions beforehand so you have an idea of what specific things you need to be looking out for. Once the test begins, set aside time to watch/listen to the extract fully through. There’s no point rushing in to start answering questions if you don’t know what the extract is about. Once you understand the main content you can begin to pick out specific details.
After that, you’re on your own. I find that listening tests depend on luck, and how I’m feeling that day. Some days I’ll be able to pick out minute details, other days I’ll miss them completely. Generally, I’m not very good at them, and I don’t like things I can’t do. I don’t have to worry about them too much though as thankfully there are many other sections to the language module where I can make up the marks. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, but luckily language learning caters to that. I’m no good at listening tests, but I usually do better in oral exams. I’m useless at grammar, but my reading comprehension is fairly good, so I’m better at translation.
The trick of it is to refrain from getting too stressed. It’s only 50 minutes, and counts for so little. That’s what I keep telling myself, at least. One last thing, as you’ve probably all been told before countless times by teachers in school: a guess is better than leaving a question blank. A mantra I depend on a little too much.