My IELTS test

31 Oct 2004

Before I moved from the Netherlands to New Zealand I had to do the International English Language Test (IELTS). And I needed a band score of 5 (out of 9) at least to be allowed to live in New Zealand.

From 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM I found myself in exactly the same state of mind like 2 decades earlier at high school.
These days I was under the impression that I enough mastered reading and writing in English, but I was very concerned about the spoken test. So, in the lunch break prior to my speaking presentation, I sneaked into a bar and quickly gulped down two glasses of gin for the purpose of the indispensable overconfidence.

After the examiner ignored my offered handshake, I instantly became an insecure adolescent again.
The monologue about my work went fine. Although, the story suddenly was a lot shorter than I had practised at home in front of the mirror … While my brain was feverishly searching for another few smooth sentences, the examiner asked me about ‘the most impressive letter in my life’. I got 1 minute to think about this question en I thanked Whatever that I knew my reply after a few seconds already. I would tell him about the New Zealand gallery owner, who recently sent me an enthusiastic email. In that way I could turn the conversation into a subject that I was familiar with.
Happily I started to rave about it en tried to spice up my story with some interesting gestures en sweet ladylike voice inflections (yuk). But being realistic; in my desperation I noticed I used some quite weird words. My last straw was throwing in my most disarming glance.

I wasn’t done with my ‘show’ yet, when the examiner interrupted me by asking something very complicated about ‘the future of the written word’. I picked up some words as “ministry, professors and academics” and I asked him to repeat his difficult question. The long-expected black-out kicked in and my brain got frozen. Probably the examiner saw this happen too and he reckoned the oral test as finished.

On my way back home I was relieved this bad day was ended en mopishly I hoped I would get a more easy-going person if I had to do a new exam.

But …
A few weeks later I got the IELTS-envelope in my mailbox.
My score was a 6,5 ! And for conversation a … 7 !!! A SEVEN!
For 2 days I euphorically and non-stop shouted out loud: “How is this possible?! How is this possible?! How is this possible?!”

certificate ielts


  1. Ha P!

    Gefeliciteerd met het behalen van je examen. Je mag dus blijven…Leuk voor je. Kom je nog wel eens naar Nederland?
    Hoop jou en je werk nog eens in het echt te zien. De foto van R. met hibiscus in de mond, staat vrolijk te wezen in mijn huiskamer.

    Hopende dat je je Nederlands ook nog een beetje bij wil houden, zeg ik: adios!


    • Hoi Manon,
      Het zijn eigenlijk oude blogjes waar ik in 2004 mee ben begonnen, maar nu pas is mijn Engels ‘vlot genoeg’ om niet al te veel tijd meer nodig te hebben voor de vertalingen. Ik geloof niet dat ik ooit zo ver kom dat ik in het Engels ga denken. Daarvoor ben ik er te laat ingestapt (plus ik spreek nog steeds 95% Nederlands in mijn dagelijks leven).
      Ik was afgelopen december in NL voor een kort flitsbezoek aan de familie, dus geen uitgebreide vakantie. En oooooh, wat was het koud!!!
      Die hibiscusfoto is ook mijn favoriet, haha.

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