Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Inburgering Klaar!

I showed up at 12:55 today for my NT2 exam, which was scheduled to begin at 1:00. I didn't have my letter so the woman looked me up in the computer. She told me that I was scheduled for 16:30. Eventually, she called Kee, who said that I did, indeed "sit on the list" of 1:00 test takers.

There were six of us in a room with Kee giving the test. However, there were seven participants. Finding the one person who was not supposed to be in the room was more difficult than you can imagine. The offending woman had, apparently, already taken the test. I was quite excited as any test that someone wanted to take a second time couldn't be that bad!

The test was given in three parts. It seems to me (although I don't know this for sure) that the first little part, an orange book, was the big "weeder outer." Like to separate the first level folks from the others. I think this because the woman seated next to me was at the coffee machine in front of me. She found the test very difficult. She's been here four years and is from Russia. I asked her if she spoke English. No. I asked her what language she and her husband speak at home. They don't. (Possible misunderstanding of my question, but maybe not.) She has only been here "officially" for eight months, so that's why she is just now going through this process.

When I returned from the break, Kee said that I and another woman (not my new Russian friend) could begin with the next part of the test. It was dictation. I love dictation in Dutch. Everything is spelled like it sounds - and sounds like it is spelled. When we were finished, she gave dictation to the others. There was filling in how to write a formal letter, a quick note (about being late meeting some friends for coffee in the cantine at work), finishing sentences and a lot of: read the text and answer some questions.

I spent the second break alone. I heard other test participants speaking together in broken English. I was trying to stay in Dutch, so I read the inburgering pamphlet in Dutch. Sometimes I can switch back and forth, but not on test day.

The last part of the test was tougher than the other two. I could tell they were popping it up a notch or two. I wasn't able to read every word, but I was able to use deductive reasoning to figure out a few when I was in a tight spot. It's a little tough when all three words in the question following the text are not in my personal database, but I did okay. I got a 21 out of 26. Kee had me sit and I watched her grade the test of the Russian woman. She got a 9, and I overheard Kee telling her that she would be getting a letter stating when her courses would begin.

When I sat, Kee graded my test and told me that I "sit already in level 3." Apparently that's the cut off. She said that my inburgering was over if I wanted it to be. This conversation, of course, being held in Dutch.

"But..." I said.

"But if you want a year of free Dutch classes, you are welcome to them."

"And if I want to stop after six months?"

"Then you stop."

"Great! Now about 'Deel 2' in the pamphlet..." Deel 2 is three classes (in your mother tongue) about Amsterdam, the Netherlands, the healthcare system, social security, finding a school for your children, etc.

"No. You don't do that. You go here." She pointed to Deel 3: School.

I'll get a letter stating that I scored "Level 3" on my NT2 test and something about when classes will begin - she said probably April. I'm quite relieved.

And it just goes to show, once again, that it's not information that is scary, it's ignorance, it's not knowing. Now I know.

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