Yesterday I scored 100% for my Danish oral exam. I usually do well in exams. Í am accustomed to distinctions, high distinctions and have even won a few achievements and memorial awards. I know how to give the assessors what they want, but this perfect score came as a surprise to me.
It certainly comes as no surprise, to anybody that knows me, that I did particularly well on an oral exam... "She can talk with a mouth full of marbles under water, talkative, have a chat and, does she ever take a breath" are sentences I have heard often...at least until I moved to country where I needed to learn a new language and listening became more important than talking. I still share my views but with far fewer words, because I'm really not that good at Danish yet.
I have trouble pronouncing the difference between U and Y (a vowel in Danish) which to an untrained ear sound exactly the same. Then there is there 3 extra vowels, Å. which sounds (to me) like O, Æ which sounds like the A in way, and Ø which should be classified as Denmark's biggest natural disaster...and the source of many 'rød grød med fløde' jokes...
They Danes swallow their d's, g's and v's and r's which makes it impossible to hear the difference between syv, (seven) syg (sick), syd (south), or sy (sew)...because they all sound like soo.
I know I made the assessor laugh a few times, I used all my acting abilities to act natural, and like many danes, I uuummed and aaahed a lot between words and sentences, a tactic to try and stretch the time and find forgotten words. I chose a subject I am familiar with and had memorized my talk, but there were questions and diagrams I hadn't seen that I had to describe and discuss... and I know there were grammatical errors. At one point I completely forgot the words for advantage and disadvantage, so I talked about both the the positives and negatives of the advantages and disadvantages...and talked and talked and talked. The only question the assessor asked me was if I was a Doctor or medically trained?
I would have been proud if I scored a pass, and impressed if I scored anything above 60%, my accent is thick, my grammar is atrocious. I put adverbs in the wrong place and mess up tenses all the time. I forget words and just can't get my mouth around some of the really long words... 100% feels like I cheated, that I fooled the assessor into believing something that I'm not, and now my Danish friends and family think my perfect score means I can speak and understand perfect Danish. I'm afraid Danglish will have to suffice for a while longer. 100% is not a true reflection of my language skills, but perhaps it's a true reflection of two of my other favourite skills, the arts of acting and communication...and of course I have to give some credit to my fabulous teachers.
I am truly baffled by the results, getting more than I deserved, the opposite of being cheated but the feeling is very similar. The relief that it is all over and knowing I can go forth and enjoy a stress free Summer makes it easy to move on and just be grateful.