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Passing your SLE test is not easy – it requires great personal effort and unfailing motivation to get a C-level

Conrad is a Canadian federal government employee. His mother tongue is English and growing up, he had very little exposure to the French language. Off the clock, Conrad enjoys thought-provoking technical activities, such as home renovations and vehicle repair. Discover his impressions of language learning with LRDG, leading to his SLE testing experience.

Did you have any experience with the French language before studying with LRDG?

I had studied Engineering at University and as I went to the Royal Military College there was a requirement to have a second language proficiency for graduation so I had to take French there. I almost didn’t graduate with my class as I just barely obtained the required levels, and this was after taking additional summer training to improve my language skills. Ten years later, I spent a year studying the OFs from the federal government to obtain a BBB level as I had become a supervisor. I also sought additional tutoring and after my 3rd try was able to get my B in oral.

Four years later I had to return to try and obtain a C level in oral. I spent approximately 12 months spread out over 3 years working with the government-approved schools both in group and one on one sessions and after 10 attempts, I obtained my C level. Now to renew my C level, I spent some time working with LRDG and then the official language section at work decided that it would be better for me to do full-time training with a government-approved school.

I spent 6 months doing 7-hour zoom sessions only to not be able to take a test. In January, I attempted the test and was unsuccessful, I then restarted with LRDG with weekly tutoring sessions to do maintenance and worked with other schools to prepare for the test. Finally, on my fourth attempt, I was successful in getting my C in oral. Learning the French language has been a struggle.

How did you hear about LRDG?

I heard about LRDG from our second language section at work.

What did you like most about your language learning program?

What I enjoyed about the LRDG program is the fact that it is self-paced, interactive and I could tailor it to how I learn. If I understood something I could quickly cover it and if I had questions I could reach out to my tutors and they would be able to explain the situation to me.

How has learning a second language impacted your everyday life?

To be honest, learning a second language has been the most stressful activity that I have ever undertaken. Given that I struggle with languages, having to learn French because I am a federal government employee has caused me much stress and anxiety. I am grateful that I have been able to learn a second language as I am comfortable engaging in conversations but I have very little plans on using French beyond work.

Was it hard for you to begin this language learning journey?

It wasn’t hard to begin the journey as it was a mandatory requirement. It was difficult to continue the journey and many times I wanted to quit, it is quite sad that the feedback that one receives from the testing center is non-existent so how can a person improve. It just increases the level of frustration.

How do you feel about your experience with LRDG?

I really enjoyed my experience with LRDG as it was an online learning portal where I could work at my own pace and explore the language. I am not a person who likes languages, I struggle with English and it is suspected that I have some slight dyslexia as my ability to spell in any language is terrible. I took engineering to try and avoid the arts and languages. The tutors at LRDG would challenge me and make me think which would assist in my learning the language. They all encouraged me to work on immersing myself in the language and culture.

Do you have any tips to help other learners that are preparing their SLE?

One of the problems with the SLE is the questions and the fact that someone in the science and technology field does not respond or think the same way as a linguist thinks. The responses from a scientific person will typically be black and white and it is obvious so explanations are not required. i.e. 2+2=4 no more explanation required. The questions that get asked are not looking for right or wrong answers but answers that you support and to have knowledge of the other arguments.

On my last test, when I was asked an opinion question, I actually laughed and said that it was impossible to answer the question and there is no correct answer and it depends, I then proceeded to give different situations using the Si Clause structure and throwing in some subjunctive for good measure. My best advice for someone would be to try and answer the questions in English first to analyze the answers to see if they answered the question or talked around it. One would be surprised at how bad we are at communicating in our mother tongue.

I also believe that we are used to talking to our peers so they have similar knowledge bases and due to this they understand what we are saying but this isn’t because we are good communicators but because they have filled in the holes with their experiences and knowledge.