March 28, 2015

Today I took the HSK 3, which was a disaster. The character 嗔 (chēn) means angry or annoyed, and that pretty much describes my feelings about today’s test.

The HSK 1 exam which I took last year had a vocabulary list of 150 words, and I passed that test. The HSK 2 test, which I took and passed this past December had a vocabulary list of 300 words. The HSK 3 exam has a vocabulary list of 600 words, and I wasn’t familiar with many of them. My original plan was to take the HSKK (speaking ability) today and take the HSK 3 next fall, but our teacher required us to take the HSK 3. Just taking the exam is 5% of our grade, regardless of our score on the exam. The reason it’s required is because somebody in the department is apparently doing a study to compare our success rate to students at IU Bloomington. The only reason I took the test is because it accounts for 5% of my grade in class and because we were promised reimbursement for the cost of the test. Personally, I have better things to do with my weekends than to take a test I’m not prepared for.

All that aside, the test isn’t what I expected either. It started out fine, beginning with the listening section, which was divided into four parts. The first two parts went fine, but when the third part started, the audio on the test stopped. I double checked to make sure my headphones were plugged in, and they were. I adjusted the audio on the PC, and it was fine. I would hear a ping whenever the volume was adjusted. Despite this there was still no audio from the test, and it isn’t much use having a listening section with no audio. I raised my hand and got the attention of the teacher conducting the test. She got another teacher, and they contacted somebody (I assume someone from Hanban in China). The instructions were to close the browser and restart the test, and it would pick up from where I left off. I followed the instructions and was back in business. Annoying, but no harm done, from what I understand.

The next section was reading, which was fine, despite the fact that I didn’t know many of the words. I’m in my second year of Chinese classes, but felt as if I was asked to take the final exam for a third-year Chinese class. Needless to say, I guessed on a pretty much everything in that section.

The final section was writing. It should have been my best section, but it ended up being the worst. I took the paper practice exams, and did okay because I could write down the characters even if I didn’t know how they were pronounced. I did pretty good at guessing nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, etc, so putting them in the right order wasn’t too hard. On the computer, you can’t do that. You can’t type in something if you don’t know the Pinyin for it. I tried to copy-and-paste, but there was no way to do so. Clicking on the characters did nothing. Double-clicking did nothing. Right-clicking did nothing. Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V did nothing. The only way to input a character is to know the pinyin for it, and I only knew about half the characters.

In the last part of the writing section, they have a sentence, and they give the pinyin for a character they want you to type in. It should have been easy, but as I was getting ready to type in my answer to the first question (it related to the cost of something, and the pinyin was ‘yuan’, so my response was to be 元) it kicked me out. I thought I had a couple of minutes left, but I don’t know if I ran out of time, or if there was an error of some sort.

So, lessons learned. First off, in the future, I’ll only take the tests when I’m sure I’m ready for them. If I’m required to take a test, I’ll a) make sure I don’t have to pay for it, and b) set out to deliberately fail it. I see no reason to try something I know I’m not ready for. Since this was part of somebody’s study, I’d like to fuck up their results out of spite.

Perhaps the most important lesson, however, is that the paper practice exams are worthless for anyone taking a computer-based exam. Supposedly, there is an online practice test at the HSK website, but I’ve never been able to get it to work. Maybe it just doesn’t like Macs. Regardless, if I can’t practice taking the computer-based exam, I’d feel much better taking the paper based test.


Blogging in Chinese

December 27, 2014

Last spring I took the HSK 1 and passed. The HSK (汉语水平考试 Hànyǔ Shuǐpíng Kǎoshì) is a test of Chinese language proficiency.

Level 1 is pretty basic. There are 150 vocabulary terms to know, and some listening and reading sections with multiple choice questions. As far as proficiency goes, HSK 1 is the most basic. It’s mainly simple sentences, like “I am a student,” “I am from New York,” etc.

Level 2 is also pretty basic, but it has 300 vocabulary items to know. It also has multiple choice questions for listening and reading sections. I took the HSK 2 a few weeks ago, and will find out my score in January (edit: I passed). When I took the HSK 1, it was a pencil-and-paper test, but when I took the HSK 2, it was a computer based test.

Blogging in Chinese is mainly about preparing myself to take the HSK 3 this coming spring. From what I understand, the HSK Level 3 has a section that requires the test takers to write something. By blogging in Chinese, it forces me to practice writing. HSK 3 has 600 vocabulary items, and the questions are a bit more complex. The topics relate to aspects of daily life, such as travel, shopping, food, clothes, and so on. Not terribly complex, but probably enough to get around in China, such as for a vacation.

HSK 4 has 1200 vocabulary items, HSK 5 has 2500, and the HSK 6 has 5000. People who pass the HSK 5 should be able to read Chinese language newspapers and magazines.

In addition to the HSK, there is the HSKK, which is an oral exam. Last semester, my teacher urged us to consider taking that as well. The HSKK has three levels, none of which I’ve taken yet.

The HSK and HSKK are run by Hanban, which is in Mainland China. The HSK uses Simplified Chinese. There is a similar test in Traditional Chinese that is run by the Taiwanese Ministry of Education. In English, it’s known as the Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language (TOCFL). Since the Chinese curriculum at IUPUI is taught using Simplified Chinese (I think all of the teachers are from Mainland China), I’m taking the HSK, and not the TOCFL. Plus, the HSK is offered locally, while the TOCFL isn’t.






我学习中文在印第安纳大学与普渡大学印第安纳波利斯联合分校(a/k/a IUPUI)。去年(2013年)秋天学期我修了第一次中文课。上个秋天学期我修了我的第三次中文课。一月我要修第四次中文课。



有的时候我听中文音乐。我懂得一些生词。我想听温岚,蔡依林,百安,王力宏,吴建豪,和 Lollipop F。