Oct 13, 2008

illusion of EIKEN

My daughter is going to take a test of the 2nd grade STEP, Society for Testing English Proficiency. Only one week is left for the test, so I bought a CD of previous tests to prepare for the test of listening part.
And while she was practicing with that CD, I felt a big cloud accumulating in my mind.
That is, isn't this listening test too easy for the 2nd grade, compared to the difficulty of reading section.

If you can deal with the reading section of the 2nd grade of STEP properly, I think you can read wide range of materials such as magazines, newspapers, and even PB with a little help of dictionaries or google, as long as you have strong eagerness.

However, I think it doesn't necessarily mean that you have certain listening ability of English to go easy with the real English world, even if you can solve the questions of the 2nd grade correctly.

Do you think there are some places in this world where each English word is spoken clearly and slowly like this EIKEN listening test. I thought even I can write down all the words properly while listening to the CD.

I don't believe in EIKEN at all as a tool to calculate English ability, because I know some people who have passed the 1st test, but couldn't pass the real world.

(Long time ago, I lived in NY for a year just to join my father, who has been working there for about two years at that time.
I had no interest in English or US, not one bit!, but my father, more accurately his men, had set everything ready for me to study at language school, so I went there. I had no idea what kind of school it was...what a fool I was...)

When I was studying in NYU American Language Institute, I had a classmate who came to NY hoping to see how much she could use English in the real situation.

Since I entered that school just after taking university entrance examinations, I was put in the highest class with only the score of writing test.^^;
(you know, it was tough! or unimaginable, not knowing nothing happening around me kind of situation...for about a month)
She had passed the 1st grade of STEP in Japan and said she wanted to prove her English ability in NY.
She believed that she could do somehow in NY.

I heard that there were same cases like her in such language schools, and unfortunately, some of them ended up with nurturing some twisted feeling towards English, and others just stopped coming to school and went back to Japan.
In the case of my classmates, only those who don't have any interests or pride in English like me or newly hired business persons, who are made to study English by companies regardless of their intentions and English ability, survived and lasted the most.

After all, I'm glad that I will not be victimised by the illusion of STEP thanks to my meaningless purposeless stay in NY.


Wintersweet said...

These tests have a kind of scary effect on learners ... I'm considering taking the JLPT next year in a kind of "testing solidarity" with my Japanese clients and friends who have to take English tests, but I wonder whether it's good for me.

Oh, on a mostly un-related topic--do you know how I can find out the best-selling English-learning magazines in Japan? I just need a list of the most popular ones, but I'm not sure how to find it. (Are these magazines popular, anyway?) Sorry to bother you with this question ...

mrs. malone said...

Hi wintersweet,

thanks for the comments on twitter. I still don't understand how twitter works, so I'm going to see yours or others for a while.

oh, you're thinking about the JLPT.^^ I guess to take the test, you have to memorize lots of Kanji, right? mmm it sounds quite a challenge...but I'm sure if you decide to try it out, then you surely can boost up students' motivation.

As for magazines of learning English in Japan, here is a amazon Japan list in the order of pupularity.

There are so many magazines now, so it's not easy tell which one sells the most, but I'm sure these are popular monthly or quarterly ones,
AERA English, CNN English express, English Journal, ゼロからスタートEnglish, 多聴多読マガジン。

I'm really glad that I could be of some help for you, so don't hesitate to ask me some♪

Wintersweet said...

Yeah, it takes a while to get used to Twitter! And I think I use it too much.

Thank you for the links! That's really helpful.