State Examination in Linguistics Spanish / French / Italian:

The Nature of the Written Exam in the State Examination

Linguistics, Not School Grammar

To achieve a good mark, it is not enough to limit oneself to a purely formal working through of the questions. The questions merely provide a framework within which candidates can demonstrate their linguistic expertise. They are expected to include as many linguistically relevant observations as possible in their answers. The quality of an answer is therefore not calculated mechanically according to the number of correct observations, but above all according to whether you know how to use them for your linguistic analysis and whether they go beyond the level of a linguistic-practical discourse in technical-terminological terms.

Structured Answers, Not Collections of Facts

Each individual answer should ideally form a self-contained discussion. The problem at stake should be formulated using linguistic terminology. The theoretical terminological tools that will be used for analysis should be mentioned. This could be followed by comments on what has been written about it in the literature. Finally, these elements should be used to analyse the text in question. The answer should conclude with a summary of the results.

A well-structured answer must be limited to the essentials and only answer what was asked. To grasp the linguistic core of a question is an important aspect of linguistic expertise, which is to be demonstrated in this exam. If the essentials are mixed with correct but irrelevant explanations, this worsens the overall impression.

Analysis, No Theory Presentations

The essence of the linguistic examination in the state examination is text work, not the explicit reproduction of theoretical knowledge. The candidates should therefore work on the analysis tasks for the text and use the theoretical descriptive tools of linguistics in a meaningful way and not, as is often observed, deliver an overview paper on a linguistic theory, which they then merely illustrate with examples from the text.

Every bit of expertise that is recognisably used to answer the task earns positive points. Any piece of knowledge that is simply referred to but not used in the analysis should be avoided.
In the introduction to each answer, candidates should show how they linguistically classify the problem to be analysed; they should possibly indicate which authors or theories in the research literature they base their answer on. Extra points are awarded if alternatives are mentioned here and either both are considered in the analysis, or the decision for one of these alternatives is justified. In this form, the development of theoretical knowledge also earns extra points.

On the other hand, it is unnecessary to define again verbosely what is presupposed to be known (phoneme, cohesion ...) or to recount whole memorised articles including the research report. Everything that is not recognisably included in the analysis is deleted and not assessed.

Linguistics, not Language Practice

There is a principle among Bavarian state examination examiners that a halfway correct description of facts at the analytical and terminological level of a learner's grammar or a practical language exercise should not be sufficient for an in-depth linguistic examination. Since practical linguistic knowledge is already examined elsewhere, familiarity with the descriptive tools of linguistics is a central assessment criterion here. The candidate's obligation is therefore to use as much scientific terminology and theory correctly as possible and to demonstrate familiarity with the relevant linguistic approaches to description and explanation. What is written in the learner grammars is assumed to be known, but does not yet qualify for an above-average mark.

Discussions, not Lists

Where a tabular response is not explicitly required, responses should take the form of a formulated discussion and show an argumentation conducted in complete sentences. Within such a discussion, annotated tables are of course an acceptable form of presentation. If a question is processed as a whole as a tabular list of key points without formulated, truthful sentences, this leads to a clear devaluation of this question, in special cases even to the assessment as "not answered".

Commitment to IPA

IPA is the only transcription system worldwide and across languages. In teaching, it is taught and it is also part of the expected linguistic expertise that you can convert deviant, outdated and regional transcription systems into IPA. In exam exams, therefore, any deviation from IPA is considered an error. One consequence of this principle is that, for example, [rr] as a notation of the Spanish multivibrant is counted as an error just as [r] for the monovibrant.