The Praxis I was easy. If you want to teach and think yourself competent enough, you should have no problem with it.
The Praxis II? I got an interview with Amandoo herself, who took the Praxis II Content Area Knowledge French style, and she let me know what is up with the Praxis II.
Praxis II Information: Subject Area French
Interviewer: What can you tell us about the Praxis, a few hints for those preparing for a content area language test?
Amandoo: First off- Know your verb tenses, but don’t obsess over them all: Which expressions get subjunctive? Get subjunctive with it. Past anterior subjunctive? Not so much. There were only six or seven tenses, not 14 like I studied in 501 French Verbs.
Second- Know grammar in English and French: You do not have to memorize all of the names of the different verb tenses in English like I feared you would have to. But you do have to know what direct and indirect objects versus subjects and nouns and adjectives. Maybe that sounds simple, but it can get tricky with two languages and it is something that is overlooked because not many people know English well if that is their first language. Foreigners learn it more thoroughly than we do usually. So review that up.
Interviewer: Did anything surprise you or was anything unexpectedly difficult?
Amandoo: Yeah. What the Historical Culture?!: Sure, they warned me there would be a culture section. But the example question on the Praxis ETS site asked “When would a French family most likely have dinner?” And the answer was obvious: anyone could choose between 3pm, 8pm, or 11pm. Obviously 8pm. That is like common sense French culture that everyone knows. These questions were somewhat out of control. Do you know what resulted after Joan of Arc did her thing? How about the first piece of literature written in English? French speakers- do you know the French?
Interviewer: Good point. Any other helpful tips?
Amandoo: You do need to know your language pretty well: At first it kind of seemed like someone who hadn’t majored in French or spent a year abroad could take and pass this thing. But, even though it seemed kind of easy (ie they weren’t asking dozens of questions about which form of verb would you use for this, is the subjunctive used for this this or that? Like in the SAT II French test), but, they did ask a lot of questions that either a) didn’t seem too tough because I have such a good listening ear now after being exposed to real French speakers and modern spoken French! Anywho, I think they do ask enough stuff that at the lower levels the lack of global vocabulary extensive comprehensionnesss, like every new level of knowing grammar and idiomatic phrases and things, eventually you get the idea no matter even if there is one key word you’re unfamiliar with. You still get it if you got it (the whole language).
Interviewer: I have no idea what you just said, but I think you are basically saying that you do need to have a very firm grasp on the language.
Amandoo: Indeed. I have taken well over ten years of French, so…
Interviewer: Did it challenge your knowledge of French? Any tips there?
Amandoo: In the end it’s not that hard, put it this way: For the past almost three years now I’ve been taking nothing but education courses. Other colleagues (certifying for Spanish) in the Education program had to take Spanish courses, but I did not have to take French because they said I had enough in college. Well, one of my Spanish-speaking friends just so happens to be from Mexico and they told him he needed more Spanish courses- just a little money & politics gimmick, I believe. They have a big Spanish program at my school. Yeah. So. I haven’t been regularly practicing French for a while and I still did fine after reviewing a few things for three or four days.
If you want to study, do not waste your time and money on buying a Praxis II study guide. Unless you have a lot of money and don’t care about the poor helpless trees out there in the environment.
Just make use of the French manuals you have, coupled with listening to French news, or some other communication with real live French people, and mostly- use an awesome site like LiveMocha.com to really get a good review. Jeez. Join LiveMocha people!
Interviewer: Before I leave you, just throw out a few specific tips for the French test takers.
Amandoo: Sure! Here’s a list of things I remember being uncertain about.
Elision- what’s an elision? better know that too, as far as grammar goes you do need to know random tricks
Joan of Arc- what resulted from her actions?
Holidays- What day is la Fete de Travail (I think it’s May 1st) or what do they do on le premier mai?
Random history- what did a troubador help spread? what was the importance of chanson de roland? what did the huguenots bring to France? what is chartres known for? and stuff i knew, like what is the flower of France or what book is this quote from (the quote about only being able to see with the heart from Le Petit Prince).
I don’t exactly know how you would study for all of that. You could read up on stuff, but you really just have to know a lot of random stuff. I did fine on all the other parts besides the cultural one.
Interviewer: Thanks, or should I say, merci, Amandoo!?
Amandoo: No, you shouldn’t. But you’re welcome.
Interviewer: I think I’m ready to take that Praxis test!
Amandoo: You already did, foo. Get some sleep!