This week I am taking a language test of sorts and am feeling nervous. This test for me has been put off for a little while and the extra time has not helped me feel any less nervous. Today I was going to write about a couple of ways you could give yourself a more intermediate home language test or evaluation but then I realized I should probably first right a post about why you need to keep testing yourself. Because I know I am like most people, I do not enjoy taking tests.
Let me get to the bottom line right here since I know some of you will not make it past this paragraph: You need to keep testing your language skills formally because you get more of what you measure.
Most of us know testing ourselves is a generally good practice but few of us do it and even fewer do it on a regular basis. Why I believe the answer is simple, fear. We are afraid of what testing ourselves might show us and (worse) to others. So we take the easy way and then look for reason to justify this decision. So not only do we not test ourselves- we find ways to tell ourselves it’s better that we don’t.
But we want to grow in our language. And the only way to know how much we are growing is to test ourselves. And if we know another test is coming we will be motivated to perform better, spurring more growth.
But I said tests need to be more formal. The reason I say this is because some people will be tempted to say but I do test myself. I can talk more to my barista then I could before. I can pronounce most words now. I can have a text conversation in my target language. These things are encouraging (to me at least) but are not as good as formal test. Why?
Formal tests are objective. You will know and can review how you did and where you went on. With out formal testing you can only go on how you felt about a situation. And worse if it is not objective you could have done everything wrong and felt great.
Formal tests are better they give you measurable results. You know exactly where you stand instead having to decide how that went yourself.
Formal tests give you something to review. You can see where you went wrong and seek to fix your mistakes in the future. You can review a recording or written test. What a great personal language tool!
Some of you may not be convinced yet. So this week I will also write a post naming the fears and justifications keeping me from testing myself. I also promise to report my results to you no matter how scary. Then hopefully you will be ready to test yourself. As always keep me up to date on your language learning in the comments.