Xibanya guo

So how’s this for a weird aspect of my life: I am determined to take the HSK, otherwise known as the Hanyu Shiping Kaoshi, otherwise otherwise known as the Mandarin Chinese Proficiency Exam, this May. Now, this is something I have been talking about for almost as long as I had been talking about this Spain Auxiliares program, so it is well past time that I do it, in my opinion. The exam is really not necessary (it doesn’t stand in for a degree in Chinese, for example) but I will put it on my resume, and should I want to go study in China at a university or language school (I should), then I will need it. Why this year? Well, I took a long look down my life, and realized that I would most likely never have another year in which I worked only 12 hours a week, although my mother did rightly point out that I could come back to the US at the end of the year and be unemployed, working only 0 hours a week. Thanks Mom. :-)


So, this is the year. The most accessible Confucius Institute is in Granada, and the exam is on May 16th holy cow, it’s on June 16th! That’s a bit of a surprise . . . Anyway . . . I have been studying every day, and it is both exciting and frustrating.

1. I am pretty reliably getting the gist from news articles on XinHua, after many weeks of only being able to figure out what was going on by using WordChamp’s hover-dictionary, where you mouse over the word you don’t know and a definition pops up. A month ago I had to look up every word, and now I can go almost entire sentences and know every word in them. That’s pretty awesome!

2. On a similar note, I picked up my Chinese version of “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” the other day, and it was miraculous to me how much easier it was to read now that I have been reading Chinese every day.

3. I was listening to a “Learn Chinese” news report, and I didn’t understand part of the written summary, but when I got to that part in the podcast, I figured out what was going on by hearing words in Chinese.

So in general I am feeling pretty good about how much I’ve advanced in my Chinese level. The frustration comes in when I measure my current ability against the test I want to take.

4. Right now I’m plowing my way through Level 3 words (that would be a B1, for all you Europeans). The vocabulary on this word list mostly falls into the category of “words I totally know but I can’t always remember how to write or pronounce”. WHY DON’T I KNOW THEM YET.

5. Originally I wanted to take the Level 5 test (C1). No way is that happening. So I am settling on Level 4 (B2). I took a quick look over the Level 4 vocabulary list, and it is pretty much made up of words I might have learned once, but in no way remember how to write or pronounce or what they mean. There are over 300 such words I need to master by June. GAH.


On the upside, I have just found out (when I went to look up the exam date, and found that it was the 16th of June and not May) that there is an intensive HSK course in Granada the first week in June. It’s only 60 euros too, AND I would get to spend a week in Granada and eat free tapas. Extended Granada vacation, anyone? I guess I will see where I am in March when I have to register . . .


One Response to Xibanya guo

  1. Emma says:

    This is so cool! I made the same realization about the 12 hour work weeks, hence my resolution post to actually be productive while I still have the time. Good luck studying!

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