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  1. #1
    salsaguy is offline Registered User
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    CLEP Spanish Results!

    I'm NOT a native speaker of Spanish by any stretch of the imagination, but in May I decided that I wanted to take a stab at seeing how many credits I could earn by taking the CLEP Spanish.

    So, I studied, part-time, mind you, Levels 1-3 of the Pimsleur Spanish program (got them fro free) from late May to early July while commuting back and forth to work on the train.

    I then took about a month and a half off to prepare for the Excelsior College Statistics Exam. after taking Statistics in Sept, I then spent a few hours each day (Monday-Friday, while riding on the train) working on various skills utilizing various Spanish products one could buy at the bookstore or find at the library.

    Anyway, I took the CLEP Spanish test a few weeks ago, and I am pleased to announce that I got a 70--and 12, glorious college credits, to boot. Maximum score was 80 or 85, I think, and I think all I needed was a 55 to get 12 credits.

    Not bad for a gringo, eh? :D

    My thoughts about the actual test:

    1. The audio part wasn't that hard. If you decide to take it, just make sure you get accustomed to how Spanish sounds. Unless you are a native, or near native, you probably won't understand every word. But, you should understand enough to get the gist of what's going on.

    2. The reading part was my strong point, IMO. I prepared myself for this by buying an intermediate Spanish Reader from Border's Books. It was really good for my purposes, as it contained footnotes and a glossary of all Spanish words used in the book.

    I would encourage anyone interested in taking the test to give it a go. IMO, it served as a good impetus for me to continue my Spanish study. You really get into the habit of daily study, and your increased knowledge of the language will ultimately prove to be a tremendous reinforcer.

    If anyone wants more details about me prep materials, please do not hesitate to ask.

    James

  2. #2
    Orson is offline Registered User
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    Yes James--PLease DO tell more...!

    Congratulations, James!

    Word is that the hardest part of the CLEP language exams is listening comp--it goes by so fast!--so it's no surprise to me that you say reading comp was your strength. Or would you say the your Pimsleur tapes helped you fairly well with this?

    I'm prepping to take the German exam, however I may also consider the Spanish one, too.

    My study research indicates that "Spanish The Easy Way" is the best text for self-study. It's the same as Barron's "Spanish Now!" which has tapes available for it--but with answers for exercises included at the end.

    Also, the REA CLEP Spanish--did you use something similar to prep and guage your readiness to test? (Something, e.g., like Princeton REview AP Spanish...). And what Spanish reader did you use?

    So, please, DO tell more!
    Again, congratulations!

    --Orson

  3. #3
    Giancarlo is offline Registered User
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    Hi James, could you please give further details on CLEP Spanhish test? How exactly does it work? You listen to a tape, and then you have to answer to several multiple choice questions?
    There is any writing part for the test?
    Thank you in advance.
    Bests,
    Giancarlo

  4. #4
    salsaguy is offline Registered User
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    Answers

    Sorry it took so long for me to answer...

    In preparation for the CLEP Spanish test, you should try to address the three areas of language learning as well as possible--Reading, Aural Comprehension, and Speaking/Writing. Note, though, you can still pass the test even if your speaking skills are not up to par. The test doesn't measure your ability to communicate--at least not yet!

    IMO, the Pimsleur program was a godsend in my prep for the aural component. If I were you (and I could get my hands on the Pimsleur course--email me if you want some ideas about getting it), I would work my through the entire course (Levels I-III, a total of 90 lessons). It will give you a good template for learning the basics of the language and beyond. It doesn’t give you a lot of vocabulary, but it does teach how the language is put together.

    In addition, you should also spend time listening to/watching Spanish language media. You won't understand it all, but it will get you used to hearing things you don't understand and not panicking. Plus, that which you do understand will serve to reinforce the whole learning process.

    For fun, I went through a portion of the Foreign Service Institute Course (up to lesson 15). IMO, it is much DRIER than Pimsleur, but far more comprehensive and useful. The conversation in the FSI COURSE are a LOT faster than those of the Pimsleur program. It really helps you learn how to understand under combat conditions with the added benefit of having a rewind key at hand. Lessons 1-15 of FSI course is what you will find available at most public libraries. I plan on buying the rest of the course soon. It really helped my aural comprehension ability.

    You should also spend a week or so just going over verb tenses, etc. Any Basic Spanish Grammar Primer from the library should suffice.

    As far as what reader I used, it was entitled something to the effect of "Classic Intermediate Spanish Plays and Stories." It has a pink cover.

    Re the actual test: It's computer based. You put on a set of headphones, and you begin the audio component. After that, the reading component begins. REA makes a CLEP SPANISH preparation guide which. The book contains a grammar review (useless, IMO) and 3 practice tests--audio and reading. I found the REA practice tests to be somewhat harder than the actual CLEP exam.

    Hope this helps.

  5. #5
    Orson is offline Registered User
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    Thanks, James!

    Such incisive details are quite helpful. From previous language study, I can judge your insights as sound and true.

    In the end, it requires persistence. It sounds like Pimsleur assists in overcoming this hurdle more than any other, and your example is inspiring. (I HAVE heard that lack of vocab is its one weakness.)

    Now if someone would weigh in on their experience with the rest of the best competition, such as "French in Action," "Destinos," etc., available from www.shop.PBS.org ?

    --Orson

  6. #6
    salsaguy is offline Registered User
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    More info

    I wanted to add some more to my thoughts about the CLEP Spanish...

    It may behoove you to purchase Penton Overseas Vocabulearn: Spanish program. It is a total of 9 hours of Nouns, Verbs, Parts of Speech and Common phrases divided into 3 levels. Each level will increase your vocabulary by about 1500 words. The program is pretty cheap, too--only about $35 for the cassette tapes, a little bit more for CDs.

    Also, I HAVE tried French in Action. I studied French via telecourse a view years ago, and French in Action was the curriculum used.

    Here's a brief synopsis:

    1. It is a 52 lesson program revolving around an American guy who meets a French Woman while visiting Paris. Each lesson develops on the first, and new characters, as well as key French Language concepts, are introduced as the lessons progress. Also, the lessons take the form of a mini-movie, as there are actors, etc. playing specific roles. The storyline is kind of funny, as people from all walks of French life are portrayed: The young maiden, the little girl, the goofy professor, street vendors, the dude who’s always trying to pick up chicks, etc.The French actually have a word for the act of trying to pick up a chick: drageur (sp). Go figure, those crazy French!

    For those of you who care, the Actress playing the young French woman is none other than a young Valerie Alain.

    2. There are several components to the course: Videos, which of course, contain the mini movies and a brief French lesson; Cassettes which contain the dialog from the mini-movie as well as other lesson drills; a workbook which corresponds to the lesson drills on the cassettes; A textbook which contains still shots from the particular mini-movie for each lesson as well as the actual written test from the dialog. A study guide is also part of the course, but you really don't need it.

    3. How it works: The recommended study plan is to watch the video first, and then work your way through the audio tapes. But, since the audio tapes contain the actual dialog from the mini-movies, the tapes aren't really needed. I passed the course with an A, and I only watched two mini-movies. Anyway, the audiotapes begin with the dialog being spoken at full speed. After completion, the dialog is played once more, only this time it is played in segments. After each segment is played, the "professor" repeats each phrase at a slower pace, from smallest word to largest, and gives you a chance to practice speaking. After this begins the exercises--some of which are aural, some of which require writing.

    I loved the program. In fact, I liked it so much that I talked the French teacher into having the language lab copy the entire 52 tapes of the audio cassette component. Like I said, you don't really need the videos, as the audio tapes have everything the videos do plus more.

    I believe it’s more than a language course. It actually gives you insight into French Culture. Little nuances in the dialogs, as well as many cultural notes in the forms of cartoons, etc. are interspersed throughout the all the materials. The materials even make mention of one of France’s favorite pastimes: protesting:).
    Last edited by salsaguy; 11-21-2002 at 08:58 PM.

  7. #7
    Giancarlo is offline Registered User
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    Hi James,
    Thank you for your useful info. The CLEP Spanish seems much easier than the equivalent New York University Foreign Language proficiency exam, which, on the other hand, is worth up to 16 credits. The NYU exams are entirely based on written answers, translations (from and into the target language) and composition. According to what you wrote about CLEP Spanish test, I should have no problem in getting those 12 credits; on the contrary, taking the NYU exam would imply in some serious studying. The only “little” problem for me is that there is no CLEP test center in Brazil and, because all CLEP tests are now computer based, ETS doesn’t allow anymore any provisional arrangement for taking the test, which was quite common in the previous era of the pencil based tests…
    Bests,
    Giancarlo

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  9. #8
    steeler is offline Registered User
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    Thanks for the valuable info James. I need around 9 credits to satisfy the arts & sciences requirements towards my Excelsior degree and the Clep Spanish exam would more than cover that. It would be an easy 12 credits for me because I am a native speaker. My question is can native speakers take this exam? It would seem a little unfair but I'll take credits any way I can. I could also take the NYU exam that Giancarlo mentioned but I would assume that the Clep exam is probably more practical and less expensive.

  10. #9
    Giancarlo is offline Registered User
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    Dear Steeler,
    Excelsior College does not have any restriction on that matter. You’re pursuing a US degree and the knowledge of a foreign language (i.e. not English), demonstrated through an appropriate test or course, is worth several credits. Thus it’s not important if Spanish (or Italian, or Russian, or whatever language) is your mother tongue. Take your test, get your credits and don’t worry--there is nothing unfair about that. You have to fulfill your English composition requirements as everybody else, and nobody would care if that is harder for you (or for me) than for any John Smith who happened to be born in the US…
    About the test itself, if you need only 9 credits, go straight for the CLEP: it’s easier and, what’s more important in your case, cheaper. However, there’s a ‘but’: as I mentioned in a previous posting, you can only take a test in an authorized CLEP testing center, and I don’t remember to have seen any located in Venezuela. On the contrary, NYU is quite flexible about proctors and locations.
    Good luck.
    Last edited by Giancarlo; 12-06-2002 at 07:07 AM.

  11. #10
    steeler is offline Registered User
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    Thanks for the info Giancarlo. It's great that I can earn credits from my native tongue. :-) I will be travelling to the States soon to take some CLEP exams so I will take this one too. How far along are you with your degree? Is it also from Excelsior? Thanks again and take care!

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