November 20

T minus 12 days

The Cambridge Proficiency Exam is less than two weeks away and I’ve found a real gap of knowledge. It seems that most of the time I can ‘hear’ the correct grammar choice for a sentence. I seem to just know, but there’s one thing I consistently can’t do.
Phrases like:

I feel lucky to have/having her.
He has difficulty to get/getting on the bus.

It’s a crapshot guessing game. I’ve asked friends if they ever notice that I make those kinds of mistakes and they all said no. Which I think means I instinctively avoid such constructions unless I’m sure what follows. I’d never say either of the above sentences like that. I’m sure I trip up at times, but I suppose that’s the real advantage of fluency – to speak fast enough so nobody can tell what exactly you said.

The CPE does not have silly exercises like that, it’s much more whether you can use English correctly in an essay for example. Still, I suppose the point of an exam is to find weaknesses and correct them. I’ve been looking up a bunch of rules and it’s the first time in a long time that English does feel like a foreign language again. I have to think about applying a rule. I’ve lived in an English speaking environment for 10 years now, so it’s pretty rare  that I don’t understand an expression or have trouble explaining stuff. It still happens and I’m not fooling myself thinking that that I am perfect. I know I still make mistakes on a regular basis, but it certainly doesn’t hinder communication anymore.

Still, for the most part I think I’m ready and I’m feeling rather smug that my Use of English mock exams are not far off my native speaking friends. I do believe at this level, the knowledge of the language one thing, but if you don’t have two braincells to rub together you’re not going to pass it. An exam is an exam and it’s always different, but I *should* be able to pass it.