The drive from Entebbe to Kampala in that small black van seemed so short too but in reality was a bit long. I don’t know if it was just me but my stomach was going all over the place. Was it because I didn’t eat breakfast that morning or the fact that I was frightened about how I was going to perform in the paper. The vehicle parked and at that moment my heart dropped. It was time. “Go now! Hurry they are waiting for you! We are late!!” Tr Munana (my French teacher) yelled. Everyone but I was running because they didn’t want to miss the paper. I walked in calmly on the outside while trying to control my nerves and anxiety from the inside. “It will be fine. It is just like every other French paper we have ever done before. I believe you will pass the paper.” These were the statements that bombarded my mind as I walked up the stairs to the examination room.
“Good morning everyone.”, the supervisor of the DELF A1 paper said. She continued to instruct us on how the paper was going to flow. There were sections for listening, writing, reading and speaking that were to be done. The first was the listening section. There was an audio to be played which was in French and we were to listen and answer questions. “The audio will only be played twice!”, stated the supervisor. The audio plays once… I have nothing written down. It goes on for the second time as I looked at the questions that I had to answer and nothing was written down again. I was now shaking because nothing has been written and the second audio was going to be played. I now started recalling the sentences said from the audio and corresponding them to the questions on the answer sheet. For the rest of the audio, the process was repetitive and that session was complete.
“You can now continue to the next sections of reading and writing. Good Luck!”. This was the moment that I at least felt hope that I would actually pass the exam. These sections were my strongholds and parts that I was always practicing in. After 20 minutes, I had completed the sections and now I sat there scanning the room as I was reviewing the French topics I was going to talk about during the spoken expression paper. “If you have finished, it is okay to bring your paper and go to the basement where you will wait for your spoken expression paper.”, said the supervisor. I did as instructed and went to the basement.
I was now more calm as the environment was becoming more friendly. As I entered the basement, I found a multitude of students from Taibah and other schools interacting with each other and discussing their experiences from the first three sections and apparently, it wasn’t just I who found the listening paper a bit difficult. As I waited for my turn to do the speaking paper, I went up the stairs to their café to buy some snacks because after that exam I was mentally and physically drained. As soon as I sat down in the basement to feed my mind and prepare for the speaking exam, one of the volunteers came and called out my name. At that moment I knew that it was time.
I was prepared but unprepared at the same time. It was so unexpected. I entered the exam room where I was to pick six topics from which I would ask the examiner about in French and one situation where the examiner and I would role-play with each other.
I was picking the topics at random without knowing what they were. I wasn’t told about any of this from my teachers but I believed they would be similar topics that I have most probably done before. I was sent to the library which was next to the exam room and I was supervised by the librarian. I could feel all the hairs on my back raise as I looked at the topics that I had chosen. It was finally my turn but I still wasn’t ready. The examiner was really understanding and my experience wasn’t bad and I believe I did well because I never failed to answer any question the examiner asked.
I had now completed all my examination sections and the rest of the time, I was interacting with other students hence making more friends as I waited for the rest of the students to finish so that we all came back to school at once.