In this article I will rely on my own experience in doing test in Greek (University of Athens) and proceed from the requirements of this very test.
So, you are given a task to write a composition no matter if you have a Greek language course or you study the language on your own. Don’t wait till the muse blesses you with inspiration which will create a coherent product with a logical flow of ideas in a stressful situation. Creativity, flights of fancy, high thoughts, all these things are wonderful! Nevertheless, at the first stage, in an exam situation we can face some difficulties. The reason here is not because we take examinations with an empty head. The greatest challenge inhibiting the ability non-native speakers to express themselves in Greek at the appropriate grade level is perhaps, a lack of sufficient vocabulary and knowledge!
So, what should we do?
I will try to give you some advice on this.
The first thing is certainly a preparation for Greek exam in a systematic manner. You should work out and think over some topics in advance. Besides, you need to organize your own phrase book in accordance with the topics and prepare some theses. They will not let you know the exact exam topics beforehand. So, what should we prepare for? It makes sense to work out the general themes, e.g.:
- health effects of cigarette smoking;
- apartment, house (rent, purchase);
- move to another city (country);
- holidays and customs;
- recreational facilities;
- Internet, mobile communication;
- trips (means of travel);
- television (reality shows, entertaining programs);
- character features;
- job (job interviews);
- your dream;
If you enter a Greek university in Athens, you will probably be offered 2 topics, where one of them needs to be selected. As a rule, one of the themes is a formal or informal letter. The text is usually assessed for its style and appearance. All these aspects can be discussed and worked out in advance, in the lessons of Greek with your internal or online Greek teacher.
Another important aspect of test composition is time management. Calculate the time you have in which to write the composition, leave 1 hour or 40 minutes minimum for this. When you only start completing a Greek grammar test, go to the end of the whole test to look at the topics provided. Try to decide on the subject as soon as possible. After, go back to the grammar test. Then you will notice that the decision-making process concerning the topic will start outside of your consciousness.
What is the “theme” of a composition? Read it carefully. In fact, the topic itself already contains many ideas. Generally, the theme is considered to be a problem you need to examine. Then, follow the plan:
1. Decide on what you are going to talk. Rewrite the theme changing the structure of Greek sentences and moreover, try to add something as well.
2. View the problem from different sides; take its positive and negative sides. Even if you see something obvious, do not hesitate to write about this. Your idea has to be so fully developed as if you are talking to a person who has never heard about the problem stated.
3. Express your opinion (agreement or disagreement). We are usually asked to give an advice. So, do this.
4. Cover the problem broadly one more time (in absolutely other words in comparison to the introduction) and write the conclusion (the main thought, moral).
You forget a word because of a memory lapse. What should we do?
In situations when you can`t recall a Greek word, ask yourself a question: how else can I express that word, how could I describe that phenomenon with simple words? Do not get confused about doing this. Synonyms and antonyms are always good solutions in this case. For example, you forgot “polluted air” (ηρύπανσητουαέρα, ομολυσμένοςαέρας), write “dirty or unclean air” (όχικαθαρόςαέρας, οαέραςδενείναικαθαρός). Instead of “You have to remember” (Πρέπειναθυμόμαστε) you can write “You can`t forget about” (Δενπρέπειναξεχνάμε), etc. The same comment can be made about spelling: if you are not sure about some letters in a word, replace it by another synonym or phrase. Learn to be cunning. In the exam you are not a translator whose task is to say everything literally. At this point, your task is different. You feel the lack of vocabulary- change the thought.
Learn by heart the linking words: then, besides, in addition, it results from this that- these words enrich you speech and help you to connect ideas and sentences. They help to go smoothly from one thought to another.
Leave some time to check your work. The composition is graded either for its contents or the grammatical correctness and spelling.
I very much hope you will find these pieces of advice helpful for your composition in Greek.
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