The European Language Certificate – The 2021 English Exam Level B2

Ettlingen (Rg). The English department of Heisenberg-Gymnasium has now for almost 25 years offered our students the opportunity to sit examinations to achieve TELC Certificates – The European Language Certificate – in English, French and, in the past, also Spanish. Although the students have information on their language abilities in their Abitur Certificate, and although the pandemic has reduced the number of lessons and practice opportunities, sixteen Year 11 and Year 12 students from HBG Ettlingen, Karlsruhe and Bruchsal registered for the 2021 Level B2 exam in English. The English skills in the Abitur exam correspond to B2 and in part C1. The European Framework of Reference for Languages defines the B2 competence level of German students as follows:                                                                                                      

Independent User. Can understand the main ideas of complex texts on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialization. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. Can produce clear, detailed texts on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.

The written part of the exam comprises a three-hour challenge (without a break!) consisting of Reading Comprehension tasks, Language Elements tasks, Listening Comprehension parts and the composition of a formal letter. In the 90-minute Reading Comprehension section the students have to allocate statements to various sorts of texts which cover a variety of topics such as home schooling, bilingual education, the search for energy sources in Africa, advertisements for all sorts of activities, to name a few. In the Language Elements section, the students have to complete sentences or insert missing items of sentences, covering practically every possible element of grammar in the English language. The 30-minute Listening Comprehension sections comprise of spoken authentic statements from news programmes, radio interviews and five short texts. In the writing section they have to either write a formal letter as an application for a “Health-Food-At-School Competition” or a letter to a company offering music downloads. The written part of this examination is a very strenuous one that demands energy and excellent concentration over a long stretch of time.

After a one-hour break the oral examination part begins in which pairs have 15 minutes to introduce themselves to their partners, then exchange arguments on various topics trying to reach an agreement on a certain strategy when it comes to planning and organizing a given project. The topics to be dealt with are, for example, the quality of reality shows on television, design your ideal house or flat, or planning and organizing a voluntary charity project in Africa. The criteria to be applied in the assessment of the candidate do not only comprise the correct use of language, pronunciation and intonation, but it also comprises the range and variety of language as well as the strategies used in the discussion. This is excellent preparation and practice for the compulsory communication exam of the English Abitur. The examiners of the oral part are Heisenberg teachers trained and licensed by TELC. All of the written answer sheets are sent to TELC in Frankfurt to be assessed by their examiners.

As expected, our students were again very successful and achieved an average of 86.9% of all credits. That is the equivalent of 260.7 of 300 possible credit points. Especially the oral part went exceedingly well, they achieved 71.6 points of 75 possible points. This is due to the extended number of lessons at Heisenberg-Gymnasium and the extended practice options throughout their years at our school.

The most successful students were Marlene Kühnel, Sarah Theysohn, Moritz Hütgen, Luca Müller and Johanna Schneider, who all reached between 91% and 96%. Congratulations! I am sure that the students enjoyed this challenge and are proud of having achieved such good results. The European Language Certificate, which is standardized and accepted throughout the world will certainly be an important part of their files when it comes to applying to universities, colleges or companies.

More information on TELC can be found on www.telc.net  

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