I have a couple of books on the TestDAF, a test of German proficiency for foreign students who want to study at a German university. I thought I'd have a look at them. I had a look. The test was clearly devised by someone who is completely bonkers.
The written and oral sections of the test both require the candidate, among other things, to summarise the statistical information presented in a graph and comment on it. The oral section also requires the candidate, among other things, to demonstrate that he or she can competently chat with fellow students about sport, vacations and the like.
The first of these makes perfect sense for the many students who come to Germany to study 'technical' subjects with a substantial quantitative component. It's simply irrelevant to the type of student who comes to Germany to study, as it might be, classics, or philosophy, or, um, German literature. One might perfectly well be able to quote from memory
Ich weiß nicht was soll es bedeuten
Das ich so traurig bin
Ein Märchen aus uralten Zeiten
Das kommt mir nicht aus den Sinn
Wer jetzt kein Haus hat baut sich keines mehr
Wer jetzt allein ist, wird es lange bleiben
Wird wachen, lesen, lange Briefe schreiben
Und wird in den Alleen hin und her
Unruhig wandern, wenn die Blätter treiben.
and yet stare appalled at a bar graph. Same for the wretched candidate who has toiled through the Kritik der Reine Vernunft or the Phänomenologie des Geistes and for one reason or another wants to study philosophy on German soil. I am all for statistics, I like statistics, but that has nothing to do with the question of whether the ability to speak fluently for 90 seconds on a statistical subject has a bearing on one's ability to cope with philosophical German. And as for sport! I submit that the ability to chat about football in German - well, what I submit is that the anglophone philosophers I have known would be unable to chat fluently about football or cricket in their native tongue, so it would be a bit hard on them to ask them to come up with 60 seconds of friendly chat in a foreign language as a prerequisite for studying, as it might be, Frege.
The thing that really is odd, anyway, is that the test gives the candidate no opportunity to show knowledge of, as it might be, Heine or Rilke, Kant or Hegel, Adorno or Habermas. The teacher of my German class says 80% of foreign students at German universities fail to finish a degree. I wonder if this is so very surprising. If you require foreign students to demonstrate that they can engage in chit-chat about football and holidays, and make no attempt to determine whether they are competent in the area of German relevant to the subject they wish to study, you are not selecting for students with the best chance of profiting from study at a Germany university; you're selecting for the type of student who has a good chance of making lots of friends in, as it might be, Berlin. If you require students to engage with randomly selected scholarly texts, you're again failing to select for the kind of student who has sensibly focused on the kind of German necessary for his/her field of specialisation. There is, I comment in passing, every reason to expect such a student to have worked on the language independently, precisely because most language programmes share the broadbrush approach of the test.
Anyway, there is more to be said, but work to be done.