Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Diving in. . .

About this time last spring, I was cramming for a Norwegian proficiency exam (Norsk Prøve 3) that was required of me to take a 3-week long mandatory nursing course for foreign educated nurses. I passed the language test, and although it was the highest level of language class that was required by the nursing authorities, I knew my language skills weren't truly good enough to work as a professional nurse or midwife. So, I enrolled in the next level class, a "studiegruppe" that prepares students to take the highest level test (the Bergenstest) which documents that one is fluent enough to enter university levels courses. I started this class in August, meeting two days a week. Life was nutty back then: every spare minute of my days were spent at the house, insulating, painting, sawing up something or another. Needless to say, I was a terrible student, but I felt justified because my time was more valuably spent working on the house. I attended class hoping to absorb the grammar lessons, hear the language spoken, and make even just minor improvements. After all, I didn't really need to be there, this was all just bonus points. I didn't need to take the Bergenstest. I had passed my required level of language proficiency.

Because of SAFH (nursing license people) dragging their feet on my nursing license paperwork, I was unable to register for the mandatory nursing course offered in November. This, too, prompted a deep valley on the roller coaster of life in Norway, but that was one of many sob stories I opted not to write about. Come late January, as I entered the second semester of my studiegruppe class, I attempted to register for the mandatory nursing course offered this coming May. Imagine my surprise, imagine the gut-sinking empty pit in my stomach, imagine the wave of nausea and accompanying cold sweat that overcame me when I read on the nursing website that they had changed their language requirement and I was now required to pass the Bergenstest.

My language teacher likes to tell us that 1) 60% of random Norwegians plucked off the street would not pass the Bergenstest and that 2) Norwegian high school students take 13 years of studying to get to that level of language competency. She shares these lovely thoughts with us not to discourage us (although they do) but to remind us that mastering a language is not something that comes quickly.

So I am beginning to cram for yet another Norwegian language exam. I thought the last one was a stretch to pass, given my short amount of time studying the language. This one is an even longer shot. I have no other choice than to dive right in, and really hit the books.

And now to get off the computer, and actually do as I said. . .  April 14th is approaching quickly.


  1. Oy! Or, as they say in Norway, Uff-Da! Good luck.

  2. Oi oi oi! It keeps getting worse! Good luck Emily!

  3. I had a samfunskunnskap teacher from Somalia who had passed the Bergensprøve. His tip:, radio, TV, newspaper. He said most of the exercises come from real clips from the media. Read, read, read, listen, listen, listen. Best of luck, the thought of the Bergensprøve is waaaay daunting.

  4. I took the Bergenstest 3 years ago. It was tough, but far from insurmountable. I would second the bit about listening to the radio. You need to be exposed to as many dialects as possible to get through the comprehension bit. I hope whatever course you're enrolled in is doing lots and lots and lotsandlots of practice tests. Mine did, and it helped loads to know exactly what I was walking into. Good luck to you. You sound to me like good little student, I'm sure you'll do just fine.

  5. April 14?? You're taking the Bergenstest on April 14th? Whoa, that's soon! I have not taken that exam, so do not have advice or knowledge to share, but I want to wish you the very best of luck, Emily---we're all out here pulling for you!!! You're my hero for even trying. Keep us posted, okay?