Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Inspiring First Cert lady

I am not often able to spend a whole day in the company of a single woman, but Sunday was an exception.

In June I spent a shorter day with the same lady; she came back and requested more time - duly granted.

To say this lady is determined, brave and inspiring is not to over-egg the mixture. First train out of Tokyo to get to Luna for nine hours of an English exam. The journey with a white stick and the test with her fingertips.

She ran out of time taking Cambridge ESOL's CAE exam in the summer. It was our first experience accommodating a blind candidate; we had no idea what exactly the parameters were nor how much or how little assistance ( and of what kind) would be required. Jim learnt what amanuensis meant.

Fast forward to Sunday, and borne of our mutual experiences previously, we were much more able to look after our candidate as she sat FCE. For a start, I knew how much extra time she would need - try reading two pieces of paper at the same time, in a foreign language with the clock ticking with your eyes closed? No, I wouldn't like to try that at all.

I was thrilled that this time I was not crushing her every time I had to tell her there were only "ten minutes left" - and I could see she was nowhere near finished. Her confidence clearly took a hit. This time, she was empowered, able to address every question, and was still cheerful at stumps (I am in cricket mode!).

A big thing I'd learned was that the specially arranged materials were full of potential problems (for us). I'll be sharing these with ESOL; let's just say some of them are jaw-droppingly daft.

One solution is called Teruki; I asked her to take the speaking test with our real candidate in order for there to be a genuine interaction, and to help relax the situation. Thank you very much indeed Teruki - living up to your 'Terrific' reputation again!

So, I escorted a tired but unbowed champion to her train home (this time it didn't leave with me on it). I am extremely proud that Luna JP004 is able to go out of it's way to accept candidates with special requirements, and that ESOL provides the materials & discretion. Thanks Yuki & Yukari for managing that sensitively.

Pass (I predict) or fail, I am delighted to say I got to know a winner.