Yesterday, I took the writing part of the IELTS test. The speaking test was on the day before, and was about as expected. I talked with a man who sounded like he was British, and he asked a bunch of questions. He was quite good at making it feel more like an ordinary conversation than a test, even though the questions were not exactly the first thing I would expect to hear from a complete stranger:
«Hello Tor, please sit down. Now, I would like you to tell me if you think old people can contribute something to politics.»
The writing part of the test covers listening, reading and writing, and just as expected, it had the usual ambiguities and logical inconsistencies. For instance, I was supposed to read a text, and then to read various statements about this text, and then it said
Write YES if the statement agrees with what the writer claims in the text.
Write NO if the statement contradicts what the writer claims in the text.
Write NOT GIVEN if it is not possible to tell what the writer thinks about this.
And of course the writer is dead, and even before he died, he could have been a raving lunatic, or a pathological liar, thus making it impossible to tell what he thinks about anything. But even taking a more normal view of things, it was still impossible to determine what the writer's thoughts were, as he largely quoted statistics and other people.
I really find these things quite annoying. It is like the theory test you have to take before you get a drivers license, were it sometimes seems like they are trying to trick you, rather than finding out what you know about driving a car. I may be an arrogant ass, but I tend to think that there is nothing wrong with my English reading skills. I have after all been reading mostly English books for more than a decade now, so when I take an English reading test, and I can not tell with certainty what the answer should be, even though I have the text in front of me, and I have plenty of time left, then I assume the problem lies with the test rather than myself. I may be wrong of course, but I would still like to see the results of trying this test on native English speakers. When I become filthy rich, I think I will make it my hobby to pay British students to take the IELTS test.
Anyway, this more or less brings English week to an end, except for one article which I will write later today. Next friday, I have an exam in Quantum Field Theory, so I have played with the idea of making next week also into a theme week. Quantum week perhaps? Or Electro-weak-week?
I have, however, decided that I quite like having readers, so I will not risk alienating you more than I already do. Thus next week will be Normal™ Week, and the week after that may be Nynorsk week, if I feel like it.