phonetics

Difficult Exams are like Skydiving Without a Parachute: You Might Just Make It.

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schwa
If you don’t get this joke there is still hope for you. For the rest (like me) there is only therapy.

You have good exams and you have bad exams. I don’t mean life exams or any other deep stuff like that; I mean sit-ins, pen and paper exams, the ones you need to study for or stay home. In my student life I had mostly good exams. Not that I’m bragging or anything, but I get pretty good grades. Ok I’m bragging, so what? Most of my exams ended with well-earned good results for which I studied hard. Except THAT ONE. The exam that was left in history as the horrible, despicable, Phonetics exam!

Lecture after lecture I was left with a sound and reassuring impression I understood the stuff. It made sense. It was oh-so-logic. In retrospect I think this might have been because it was taught by a teacher who I previously had for other courses, and from whom I knew I understood very well. He is a good teacher, knows how to explain, and it is only because of him I managed to pass the god damn thing anyway. He would make funny association as “ the Hugh Grant sound”, the “ cat A” and other weird stuff that made us laugh and therefore remember them.

So together with this awesome feeling that I knew everything I started doing my revision and started to practice phonetic transcription. And lo and behold: I knew nothing. Every time I transcribed a word and then checked in the dictionary something equally strange and different was staring back. Late nights would find me surrounded by loads of paper, empty coffee mugs, and a ton and a half of frustration. In the end I had to give up and tell myself I won’t show up for the exam and just go through the whole thing for the re-examination. I had never failed an exam before. Son of a… Read the rest of this entry »

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