oral vs. written

I have finally finished, more than 30 minutes late, the last of the oral exit interviews for my intermediate Italian students (47 in total). These brief interviews, the second part of their formal oral evaluation for the course, was not as rewarding or fulfilling for a professor of foreign language.The class is, unfortunately, populated by students who are fulfilling a degree requirement. Enough said about motivation and preparation for it.

More disappointing was that there were students who at this level could not comprehend the questions either orally or written. It was really a shame to recognize how poor their comprehension level is, and even more disturbing, to realize that they really don’t care. The reality is unsettling in so many ways: they don’t see a need for learning a different language; they don’t care that other languages exist;  they live in a vacuum and they can’t see the world beyond the tip of their nose; they don’t care about wasting money on courses and having mom and dad pay out for the same course in their semester prior to graduation. I could go on, but I’d rather just leave.

Sorry, in my lamentations, I failed to address this title of this post: my question is to my few readers, would you prefer a formal written examination in a two hour time frame, or would you prefer a directed somewhat spontaneous dialogue on different cultural themes that require you use the language in practical and creative manner? Is the gift of speaking, oratoria really becoming that lost in this new generation of millennial students? Or is it just me?