Saturday, October 07, 2006


Conquering the French

Oh, the irony!

Yesterday, I took my dreaded oral exam for the third time since February. Less than 22 hours later, I read this article in the Citizen about how the public service is finally revisiting how it evaluates second-language capability, and how they'll be moving from a (positively painful) one-on-one interview in a tiny office with a tape recorder sitting in front of you to a more natural evaluation like shadowing you on your job and listening to you interact in French, or discussing a presentation or video you just watched together.

The article says that the pass rate for anglophones is between 32 and 35 per cent at the advanced level C. (Hey, I guess I'm right on target, having twice previously failed my own language test so far this year, albeit at the intermediate level B) while the pass rate for francophones in English is 68 to 72 per cent. Sigh.

This is my last kick at the can; if I don't pass it this time, I will likely have to forgo the promotion I earned way back in May 2005 and give up the acting assignment I've had since June 2005. In other words, there's a lot riding on my exam. Matter of fact, my substantive position was bilingual, too (I passed the oral exam at the B level back in 2000, two year-long maternity leaves ago) so I don't even know if I have a position to go back to. Yikes.

I'm not going to speculate on how it went. The last time, I was sure I nailed it, and I still failed to achieve the intermediate level I need. I don't even need to obtain the advanced level C for this position, but I will if I ever want to work in a higher-level communications position with the government. The article says that 63 per cent of the jobs in the national capital region are bilingual, but I can't remember the last time I saw an English-only position come up.

I suppose the good news is that any future test I take will be under this new regime, but it would have been nice to have this article come out any time other than within 24 hours of the exam!

Results should be in by the end of next week. You'll know when I know!