What has changed in my self-assessment
The neverending challenge called Erasmus. Being in a foreign country and being forced to speak English has its benefits. I believe my speaking skills improved. At least they feel more natural and I am not scared of making mistakes since everyone is making them. That does not mean I have come to terms with my English without having the desire to improve it, no. Quite the opposite, I am trying to speak more and I have encouraged some of my friends, mostly from English-speaking countries, to help me improve my English.
As far as writing is concerned, I am positive about the improvement. Since I was quite naive and though I can study both at FLUL uni and MUNI, I am doing nothing but writing several assignments each week. As tedious as it is, I have learned to better express myself and I have learned new and useful vocabulary in the process.
Listening and reading skill also had their fair share of improvement. All the materials are in English and since I have not two, but three classes of Literature, I do read a lot. To this day, solely as an assignment, I have read 5 books and several extracts. I can proudly say that even my listening skills are better. Luckily, all my teachers are native speakers and funnily enough, each of them is from a different region. I do practice listening to accents a lot, which is great. It was difficult at first, but now I am used to those accents and can enjoy the subtle differences.
After ending my Erasmus course, I hope to continue with this fairly frequent practice of the English Language.
Article submitted on 10.5.2017
I am more than happy to say that mostly everything has improved. Regarding my speaking skills, most of my practice was in our Practical language class with my classmates. This in not ideal, since we are mostly on the same level so there is not much room for improvement as far as vocabulary goes. Still, we learn a new vocabulary in class and we are encouraged to use it actively. That was a big advantage. My speaking was tested a bit when I was communicating with Portuguese students. We were trying to find a place for me to stay there during my Erasmus + stay. It was very challenging since their English is different with a thick accent. But we managed to solve everything, which showed me that I am able to communicate not only with native speakers or Czech students.
My listening and reading skills have also improved, but not so noticeably. I have been reading a lot before, so written English is no problem for me. I was trying to read even more academic works to enrich my vocabulary, but the problem with scientific works and researches is, that they are often quite boring. Nevertheless, I am keeping my set goal, and I read at least one English book in two months. As far as listening goes, I am still watching English Tv series and listening to English a lot, but I have the feeling that the improvement is not as I like it to be. I am relying on my future Erasmus stay to help me with this assessment a lot. The communication will be held solely in English and I will get to listen to it every day.
What remains to be the biggest problem, is my writing. I can express myself in writing pretty well, but I am afraid it is not according to my level of English. I caught myself using expressions below my level and sometimes, even the sentences are very simple. I am often browsing thesaurus and online dictionaries to learn new words, but even after I have learned them, when writing, I stick to the basics. This issue worries me, but I cannot force myself to use more advanced vocabulary because when I am writing something, I either need it quickly, or it is supposed to be an expression of myself and I just cannot use some words without sounding pretentious. Nevertheless, I am trying to work on this problem.
Article submitted on 16.12.2016
1 and 2 semester
Luckily, I have taken an FCE exam, so I am able to evaluate my English skills a bit better, a bit more objectively.
I took an FCE exam in June 2015. I scored overall 184 points from 190, this scores equals to a C1 level of English.
Performance at Grade A demonstrates an ability at Leve 2* and council of Europe Level C1.
To be more concrete:
Reading, Points 181, writing 188 points: I am able to read quickly enough to cope with an academic course, and I can take reasonably accurate notes in meetings or write a piece of work which shows an ability to communicate.
Listening, points 190, speaking, points 180: I can contribute effectively to meetings and seminars within own area of work or keep up a casual conversation with a good grade of fluency, coping with abstract expressions.
Since the Exam took place nearly a year ago, I do believe my skills might have improved since.
In other words:
Regarding speaking, I have no difficulties to communicate with native speakers, even on more advanced topics. Moreover, I can hold a small talk, react accordingly and keep the conversation going with expressing my opinions. I am mostly fluent, depending on current mood. Sometimes, I have difficulties using a variety of words, I slide into repetition.
As far as writing goes, I can take notes when attending a lecture and I am able to compose shorter written assignments. The problem occurs when I am to write a longer essay on a topic I am not interested in. I do not have the adequate vocabulary and I am not familiar with the context. To be honest I am using a computer program ( it would be called an app nowadays) called Grammarly. It checks my spelling mistakes and warns me when there is a syntax problem or when I have confused a word. Both, luckily and unfortunately for me, it only tells me that there is something wrong, it does not tell me what it is and how to correct it. I consider it to be a very useful tool that makes me really go through my written work many times again and really think about what I have written and how.
Reading and listening. These I am quite proud of. I can understand most of what I read, mostly from a context. I am using a little trick. I am reading books mostly on Kindle, for economical reasons, and it has a very useful tool. When you are not sure what something means, Kindle will provide an explanation, in English of course. So whilst I am reading, I am simultaneously learning new definitions and meanings of words. As far as listening goes, I have no difficulties understand, well, mostly. I am used to listening to music, which is in English, and Tv series, also in English. I found I am able to understand a lot, once I get used to the certain style. The more I listen to it, the easier it gets and I do not have to focus so hard. Often, when I am listening to something unfamiliar I need to concentrate and sometimes even re-listen to it to get a hang of it.
Article submitted: 17.3.2016
Edited on: 7.5.2016