In order to obtain Luxembourg citizenship, among other formalities, you must pass the Sproochentest. It is a language test to prove your knowledge of the Luxembourgian language. The required level is A2 for spoken language, B1 for speech understanding. It seems a bit irrational to me, but the creators know best.
The Sproochentest looks like almost any other language test. We have a list of topics such as my home, my family, my work, my health, my kitchen and so on. And there are 25 questions about it, maybe more.
There are two blocks in the exam. These are speaking and listening. There is no written part.
You need a certain number of points to pass the exam. The speaking and listening blocks do not have to be in this order. But let's look at the 'classic' version.
After answering the question on the topic, you are offered a choice of three pictures. They can be photos or they can be drawings. It is the same here — on a timer you describe what you see in these pictures.
The key to a good result when describing an image is to understand how the dative case is used. You need to know how to answer the question "where" — on the table, by the bed, on the wall, across the street, and so on. There are many prepositions that work with the articles in this case.
If you are 5 minutes short, or if you make a lot of mistakes, the examiner will start asking leading questions. They will not lead you to a happy ending, but they will lead you to chaos. So you have to be good at picture description))
In the second part of the test, the focus is on listening comprehension.
You will be asked to listen to three pieces of audio.
This means a large amount of text with some questions from the second person.
There are two ways to take the listening test. You can either listen to the text with everyone else. Or you can do it on the iPad.
Most people choose the first option. To be honest, I don't know why.
Maybe there's a sense of community. You don't feel alone when you're doing these tasks. After all, everyone's parts can be quite different when listening from an electronic device.
I don't understand it either, because you can't copy your neighbour's answers — don't even try. If you do, you may be removed from the room and banned from taking the exam for some time.
The examinee will know the marks and results when he or she receives an email with the transcript of the marks. It is worth remembering that speaking is much more important than listening.
The value system for scoring is also quite curious. Technically, you have to gain 100 points across both tests. BUT!
For example, if you score 67 points in the speaking part, you can do the listening part just for fun. Over 50 points in speaking is almost a guarantee that you will pass the exam. However, it doesn't work the other way round!
In other words, if you only score, say, 38 points for the speaking test, you must gain all 62 points for the listening test. Otherwise, the test is considered failed.
You can, of course, use your guts and recall where you made mistakes during the exam, but it's rather unreliable. You should try your best in both parts.
Harsh! For cheating and cribbing, as I said, you will be removed from the exam. And if I'm not mistaken, you can't retake the exam for a year. Of course, the examinee is automatically given you a bad mark.
The same is true in the case of cheating. It's understandable that you wouldn't even think of taking a picture or redrawing during the speaking part. But during the exam, people sometimes try to take a picture of printed papers. For this kind of cheating, the punishment is more severe. You can even be sued.
I can't even say if it depends on gender. My students almost all pass with flying colours. Of course, there have been a few cases where they have not passed at first go. But these are the exceptions. I have only had four of them in my practice.
But I can definitely say that men are more anxious or something. They get more worried before an exam. Women are somehow calmer.
What impresses me about the students is how motivated they are. My first class starts at 6 in the morning. I wake up at 5.45 a.m., I barely have time to open my eyes, to open my laptop. And there's a man in a suit looking at me. He's rushing off to work, and he's studying the language with me before he starts. For me, these people are heroes.
Major preparation for the exam is an endless repetition of the listed topics. Absolutely never-ending. One should ask for help from a husband, wife, or dog in posing questions on these topics. In the end, you can also practice asking questions yourself, because if you can ask questions, you can also answer them.
However, you should be aware that the question can be asked in very different ways. There is no clear list that is one way and no other. Luxembourgian is very rich, there's a lot to choose from.
As far as news, podcasts, radio and other things are concerned — yes, it does help, but only in terms of listening. It will help you to have a better understanding of the spoken language, and to remember certain constructions. It may or may not be helpful.
This test is unique in that it is primarily used by adults. They have families, work and responsibilities to take care of. They have to do a lot of preparation in a hurry and are dependent on a fast memory.
So as soon as they get out of the classroom, that's it. 90% of all their knowledge is lost. As far as I am concerned, I guarantee a good knowledge of grammar. It doesn't disappear. As for vocabulary, it is a matter of constant practice!
I'd highlight 5 basic taboos — these are things you absolutely must not do, under any circumstances:
It is a very bad idea, however delusional, to ask a teacher or anyone else to take the test on your behalf. There is a lot at risk: jobs, arrests, legal action for the person taking the test for someone else. The person asking you to do it risks never being able to take the test again.
Everything is clear about cheating — we will not repeat it here.
You don't have to stop talking for a minute or two at a time. A moment of silence is in itself demoralising. It will be clearly audible on the tape. After all, part of the evaluation will be made in a face-to-face meeting and part will be made in a second listening session. And every second of silence will reduce your chances of success.
Don't speak German, they don't like it. Luxembourgish is often compared to German and is sometimes called a dialect. It is much better to say it in French or in English.
I would not recommend criticising something. You should not criticise the transport system, the health care system and so on. In the first place, it's not very nice. In the second place, who knows what is in the heart of the examiner? Maybe he signed the divorce papers yesterday. Maybe he has a house to share, maybe his dog is sick, and here you are with your criticism. The mood will just go to zero. So the grade might not be quite right either.
If you forget a word — say the next one, say a synonym, explain with a different phrase. I don't think you can forget all the words at once.
You don't have to make it difficult. It's not even my case, it happens all the time. A person comes in and says, "Well, that's a boring story, let me tell you something nice, how I get out of bed in the morning and my slippers jump up on my feet!"
That's not a good idea. Why not? Because it's not one or two, it's one in two. And when an examiner hears stories like that all day long, he naturally gets annoyed. The consequences can be more insidious the more he gets fed up. For example, his question will be: "How do you do it yourself? Describe to me what is happening". That's it. How do you describe it?
The examiners don't care at all how you say it. They just want to get it right!
Of course, you should not be late. All exams are scheduled at a certain time and if this does not suit you, write a letter asking for a different time. They will always meet you halfway!
The Luxembourgish language exam is administered by the INL language institute. Their website has all the details and you can also register there. It costs around 75 euros. If you do not pass, you can immediately register for a second exam.
You can take it forever until your nervous system or education system gives up!)
Good luck with the Sproochentest!
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