One of my biggest goals for this year was to try to pass the HSK 3 exam. I wanted to do it as a validation of my efforts to learn Chinese.
HSK (Hanyu Shui Ping Kaoshi – 汉语水平考试) is the exam given to foreigners to assess their level of Chinese. (Hanyu is the Chinese language, Shuiping basically means a level of achievement, and Kaoshi is an exam). The organisation that runs it is called Hanban.
There are six levels of exam.
- Level 1 is "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."
- Level 2 is "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."
- Level 3 is "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."
- Level 4 is "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."
- Level 5 is "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."
- Level 6 is "Designed for learners who can easily understand any information communicated in Chinese and are capable of smoothly expressing themselves in written or oral form."
While I'd love to achieve Level 6 one day, my medium term goal is Level 5. That's the level required for students entering Chinese universities. But my goal for this year was Level 3. It included 100 points for listening, 100 points for reading, and 100 points for writing. I managed 275 all up, which I am super happy about.
I need to thank all my Chinese buddies on Facebook who endlessly answer my mundane questions about Mandarin.
But my biggest thanks needs to go to all at eChineseLearning.com. Spending an hour one-on-one with a teacher three times each week has made an enormous difference. For most of this period, Amy was my teacher. Amy (and most of the teachers including my current teacher Bella) is based in Wuhan, China. If you have any interest in getting serious about Mandarin Chinese, I strongly suggest talking to them. If you mention me, we both get some free time but that's not my main concern. I'd just love to see more people learning Mandarin. It's going to be (and already is) a very important language in the future. Estimates are that 1 in 4 children born today will be native Mandarin speakers. (And for interest, 1 in 5 will be native Spanish).
I've found that learning Mandarin has already opened up another whole world to me.
Onwards to Level 4 ! 加油！