Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Language Proficient, Maybe

[Belated Post]

I may or may not have passed my Language Proficiency Interview this morning. We will not be getting any grades until later so I cannot say precisely if I was able to pass with flying colors, pass with somewhat faded colors on a breeze-less day, or failed with a flag a half mast. From what I recall of the interview about 80% of it went according to plan. The other 20% consisted of questions that I did not quite hear clearly or from blank spots in my memory banks that previously had something akin to a balance of $0.01. Some of the highlights were as follows:

The place was in a home of a fellow volunteer and I can say that I was not a fan of the decision. Several members of the home, through no fault of their own, greeted us on the front porch. That is quite a distraction when you are trying to pull words out of thin air and someone is casually moving boxes around and doing chores. It should have been done at the library in hindsight. That was where we had practiced the day prior and at least that space gave us somewhat of a secluded area and quiet.

As soon as the tape recorder was turned on (they apparently save the recordings and use them to verify our language abilities) I got quite nervous of doing even just the basics in Ewe. Just putting, “my name is David” got me panicky. One minute in it was just fine and I cruised right along.

Until, that is, the interviewer jumped in on my memorized dialog and asked a question. While it was nothing difficult to answer, it did throw me off step for a few moments. The interviewer was very patient and if she saw that I did not understand the question she slowed down a bit and asked it again.

Most of my stuff was there though. I asked to recite my poem and got to a point where I was stuck on a word when the aforementioned household member walked and got us even more distracted. I started over but the brain was already stuck, so I completely skipped a word in my poem that I knew prior. Nunyui, how I forgot you.

As I said, about 80% of it was there without issue. The last two items on my interview were the 20% that I flubbed a bit. My interviewer asked if I could pretend that I was at a border crossing and we could do a role playing exercise. I am not allowed to leave the country without Peace Corps consent so I was flummoxed by this one; we can't even do this anyway, why am I being asked? I had no vocabulary for traveling to visit or see someone so far as I can recall and as far as my notes reveal. I introduced myself of course to the border guard easily, but when she asked why I was wanting to go to this country I could only respond in Ewe that I didn't know why I wanted to go to this supposed country. That was the end of that.

To conclude, the interviewer asked if I had any questions but she said that in Ewe and I again did not have the vocabulary to understand the question. I do not think that this was the worst thing, but I did my best where I could and I think they were positive with me while I was tossing out terms and phrases. Maybe the next update will read, “I've Been Kicked Out Of Ghana,” but I doubt it at this point.

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