Oral Proficiency Exams
SFS, MSFS, and Native Speaker Spanish Proficiency Exams
Native Speaker Spanish Proficiency Exam FAQs
1. Do I need to take a proficiency test if I hold a high school diploma or higher from an institution in a Spanish-speaking country?
If you hold a high school diploma or higher from an institution in a Spanish-speaking country, you should meet with the Native Speaker Spanish Proficiency Exam coordinator and present official transcripts in Spanish from the institution(s). The official documentation as well as a brief interview with the coordinator will suffice for proof of native speaker status. If a student is unable to present official transcripts in Spanish, then s/he must take the Native Speaker Spanish Proficiency Exam. The native speaker status exempts students from any lower division Spanish language prerequisites in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. Students should contact Charles Nagle, firstname.lastname@example.org, to set up a meeting time.
2. Who should take the Native Speaker Spanish Proficiency Exam?
The Native Speaker Spanish Proficiency Exam is especially designed for those students who grew up speaking Spanish in the United States and feel that they have native speaker proficiency or those students who hold a high school diploma or higher from an institution in a Spanish-speaking country but are unable to present official transcripts in Spanish. Students need to be prepared to demonstrate native speaker competency in both speaking and writing Spanish in formal and academic contexts as well as cultural, historical and sociopolitical knowledge of Spain and Latin America. The exam will consist of a 20 minute interview as well as producing a writing sample pertaining to an article from a major Spanish or Latin American newspaper. The native speaker status exempts students from any lower division Spanish language prerequisites in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. Students who are interested in taking this exam should contact Charles Nagle, email@example.com.
SFS and MSFS Spanish Proficiency Exam FAQs
1. When? The Spanish Proficiency Exam is offered every Spring and Fall semesters, around three weeks before the last week of classes. This Spring 2013 semester, the exam will be administered on Wednesday, April 10th and Friday, April 12th (9:00 am-6:00 pm). The sign-up period to register for the exam will take place on Monday, March 18th and Tuesday, March 19th at 9:00 am.
**No requests will be accepted before or after the sign-up period
Please contact Ana Carolina Rodriguez at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions regarding the exam.
2. How? The sign-up period to register for the exam will take place on Monday, March 18th and Tuesday, March 19th at 9:00 am. You have to come to the Spanish and Portuguese Department (ICC, 4th floor) to sign up (the sheets are located at the front desk). Expect a message from the program administrators with instructions and relevant information after you register. **Students who do not arrive 20 minutes before their scheduled exam time, or who do not show up at all, will have to pay a $25 fee when you register for the second time. If you wish to cancel an exam time, please do so at least 10 days in advance.
3. Who? The Spanish proficiency exams are administered ONLY to graduate and undergraduate students in the School of Foreign Service.
This is relevant information regarding who can sign up to take the exams:
1. Students who plan to go abroad in one of the two summer programs for which the Spanish & Portuguese Department is responsible will take the exam at the end of the program. The two programs that offer exams are Quito and Barcelona; they offer exams to SFS students the evening prior to the last day of classes for the program.
2. Students who spend at least one semester abroad in a direct matriculation program do not need to take the exam.
3. Students who are currently registered in any of the four sections of Oral Review (Span161) will take the exam on the day assigned by the registrar's office for the final exam. The faculty of record and another faculty member will administer the exam.
4. Oral Review prepares the students for the Proficiency Exam which will complete their language requirement for graduation. Students may first attempt to take the Proficiency Exam after completion of Advanced 102 or Intensive Advanced 112 (Latin America in Context) with a grade of B+ or higher in BOTH Advanced 101 and 102. Students in Advanced 2 need their instructor's WRITTEN permission confirming that on average, at time of exam registration, the students' grade in Advanced 102 or 112 is at least a B+ . Students who fail the exam must pay the $25 fee and complete SPAN 161 or above before retaking it. This means that students must plan well ahead and attempt to to pass the exam two semesters before graduation at the latest.
5. Students are allowed to take the exam twice.
6. Students who wish to consolidate their knowledge of Spanish may take Dr. Dym’s Spanish Review or SPAN 200 Gateway (or both) before taking the exam.
The exam consists of a 20 minute interview with two exam administrators.
It is divided into three parts:
1. Warm-up. During this short period, the examiners try their best to make the examinee comfortable by asking him/her questions on the here and now
2. Nucleus (15 minutes). The examinee summarizes the content of the article that s/he has read just before the exam, thus demonstrating reading comprehension skills. The examinee should demonstrate ability to situate the news within a historical perspective, and draw parallels with similar issues in other countries, including, but not exclusively, the US. At the end of this section, the examinee should be able to state his/her position on the issue and state the reasons behind that position. Please note dictionaries are not allowed at any time. Also, the text and any notes will be turned in before the interview.
3. Close. The examiners may use this brief period to prompt, prod and push examiners to perform some of the required performance in 2 above. The examiner should, throughout the exam but especially at this point, show command of pragmatics (politeness, turn taking).
Newspaper articles are taken from major Spanish & Latin American newspapers and deal with current issues in the Spanish speaking areas which have, oftentimes, been discussed in Spanish 161 (Oral Review).
II. PASS/FAIL REQUIREMENTS
1. Reading Comprehension/Comprehension: The examinee understands the content of a newspaper or magazine article on current events and shows ability to 1) summarize a given text in a cohesive and coherent manner without prompting, 2) produce a statement summarizing his/her own view of the event, and 3) answer follow up questions showing both ability to comprehend and prior knowledge on general encyclopedic points related to the content of the article.
2. Grammar: The examinee shows ability to both narrate and describe events producing paragraph-length discourse in all major time frames (past, present, and future). S/he may have problems regarding the use of ser/estar, subjunctive and preterit/imperfect contrasts but they should not interfere with comprehension. The reference point for ‘comprehension’ is the native speaker monolingual not used to exchanges with non-native speakers.
3. Vocabulary/ Professional Vocabulary: Vocabulary may be primarily generic in nature when dealing with personal topics, but the examinee shows command of professional, specialized lexicon when dealing with topics of interest (such as US and international economy, politics, and/or societal issues). Circumlocution and rephrasing are to be expected.
4. Speech: Speech has to be clear and not lead to confusion. Pronunciation, lexicon, grammar and paragraph structure should not be so faulty as to prevent comprehension by native speakers unaccustomed to interacting with non-native speakers. Discourse may still reflect the oral paragraph structure of the examinee’s own language rather than that of the target language.
5. Knowledge of Subject Matter: The examinee has to show knowledge of the geography, customs, socioeconomic and sociopolitical structures as well as the history of Latin America and Spain. S/he also has to be aware of and knowledgeable about the past and present status of the relationship between those countries and the United States as well as current issues of importance in the Spanish speaking world.
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