11.12 am Romanian time. As I am writing this entry my CAE students are sitting their Writing Paper. I've never been so nervous in my entire life. We've been preparing for this day since the end of September and the day has finally come. The only comparable feeling would be when I myself sat the final exams and delivered my thesis in front of a panel of judges at the end of the 4 years of my undergraduate course... I have butterflies in my stomach and feel I'm gonna faint any minute now. We've put so much work into this, we've fought tenses and subjunctive and inversions and relative pronouns and all the cornucopia of sensational English structures. Many writings along the way, plenty of collocations and idioms, all the do's and dont's strategically aimed at improving skills and focusing on passing this exam with a lot of confidence and excellent results....
I guess the Writing Paper is the easiest for the students keen on writing in English, who fully understand that there is a world of a difference between Romanian writing, whose style and beauty is based rather on length and descriptive composition, whereas in English we need to
get down to business and in the thick of things straight from the beginning, not beating around the bush, but on the contrary, getting straight to the point. Structures are aimed at assessing different writing skills: hypothesizing, persuading, arguing, justifying, etc. There is a wide range of language involved and it's not easy. The input in the first task needs to be understood and used appropriately, using advanced vocabulary and structures, with a focus on the Target Reader who needs to be satisfied with the task completion, the accuracy of the language, the cohesion and organisation and most importantly, the content. The student needs to address the task successfully, without omitting any detail, but at the same time bearing in mind that 'lifting' whole sentences from the input without the slightest attempt at rephrasing can be severely penalised.
11.25 now. The Writing Paper should be over around 12.30. I'm driving back and forth from our center to the exam venue, trying to get a feeling of what they're feeling, how difficult or easy the papers are and how confident they feel.
Bye for now, keep you posted!
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