Richard Perry

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Greater Manchester Marathon 2015 Goals for this Year

Mandarin Language Challenge Take 2

  |     |   Languages, Mandarin, Challenges

So things kind of stalled on my Mandarin Language Challenge after I finished in 2012 (actually, it stalled before the end, but that’s another story :wink:). Since then, I’ve dipped in and out a bit here and there, but I haven’t really done anything concrete, and I haven’t kept it going for any length of time. Now it is time to actually do something about it. Since the start of the year I have been very busy with my marathon training, but now I have a lot more time and I feel it’s time for another challenge to try to kickstart my learning again.

This time, I am looking at a much more concrete end goal with some mini goals in between. I will be keeping track of my progress and reporting back as regularly as I feel able. As additional motivation for this challenge, I am going to be sitting either the HSK 3 or HSK 4 exam as close to the end of September as I can. I will be looking at which level to go for towards the end of June once I have a better idea of the level that I think I can actually achieve.

The HSK (or Hànyǔ Shuǐpíng Kǎoshì/汉语水平考试) is China’s only standardised test of Chinese Language Proficiency for non-native speakers and as such, I think it is a good target. The following table describes the current structure of the HSK system including the amount of vocabulary needed for each level and a description of what each level represents. For more details, please visit the official Hanban website.

Level Vocabulary Description
(cumulative / new)
(cumulative / new)
1 150 150 174 174 Designed for learners who can understand and use some simple Chinese characters and sentences to communicate, and prepares them for continuing their Chinese studies. In HSK 1 all characters are provided along with Pinyin.
2 300 150 347 173 Designed for learners who can use Chinese in a simple and direct manner, applying it in a basic fashion to their daily lives. In HSK 2 all characters are provided along with Pinyin as well.
3 600 300 617 270 Designed for learners who can use Chinese to serve the demands of their personal lives, studies and work, and are capable of completing most of the communicative tasks they experience during their Chinese tour.
4 1200 600 1064 447 Designed for learners who can discuss a relatively wide range of topics in Chinese and are capable of communicating with Chinese speakers at a high standard.
5 2500 1300 1685 621 Designed for learners who can read Chinese newspapers and magazines, watch Chinese films and are capable of writing and delivering a lengthy speech in Chinese.
6 5000 2500 2663 978 Designed for learners who can easily understand any information communicated in Chinese and are capable of smoothly expressing themselves in written or oral form.

There is some dispute about the levels of the HSK when compared to the CEFR (or Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) levels meaning that HSK 3/4 is, realistically, still not quite intermediate level. I think this would make it a fairly sensible target for me. Now I’ve just got to get off my backside and put the effort in :wink:.

For the next week, I will be looking at getting my basic phrases and vocabulary back, doing some pronunciation work and getting back into a routine with the learning materials I have. The aim is to publish a video to show how things have gone at the end of the week/beginning of next week. The idea will be to write a very basic script in English, and try to translate it off the top of my head. Wish me luck :smile:.

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