12/25/11

Christmas away from family

I had a great time at our pre-Christmas party on Friday with my classmates (photo above), I ate delicious Korean food yesterday at my Finnish friend’s place and spoke to my family members through skype. I have my Christmas Tree and chocolate. But it’s not the Christmas I want.

Christmas used to be magical time when I was a kid. Lots of excitement and traditions. I was able to hold onto it as long as I spent the holidays with my family, but then I moved to China. It’s just not real Christmas for me if it’s not spent with my family.

Last Christmas I  spent it with my boyfriend, but this year he unfortunately had work at his hometown. I have my cat beside me (even right at this moment), but even though she loved the pork I gave here, she doesn’t care what day it is.

In Finland the Christmas Eve is the most important day and now it feels like  that the Christmas is over already. It’s not a holiday here in China and I can’t forget that I have lots of schoolwork next week, including Cantonese spoken exam tomorrow.

This may all sound way too sad, and it is, but it’s the price I’m still willing to pay in order to spend the rest of the year happy here in Guangzhou. And with a thought that maybe after I graduate I have the chance to spend my Christmases again in Finland.

Anyone else living far away from family and missing the childhood Christmas?

12/4/11

New HSK test level 5: My thoughts about today’s exam

I just came back from the new HSK test level five. I think it went ok, but I don’t want to be too optimistic and then be disappointed if I don’t even pass. I will get the results in month and will let you know how I did. Or if I don’t, you’ll know I did a poor job at the exam.

Here are some of my thoughts about the new HSK 5 test and some comparison with the old HSK Elementary-Intermediate exam that includes the levels from 3 to 8.

Listening

Listening section is much easier than in the old HSK. In my opinion the first questions are even too easy to be put in a level five exam. In the end of the section there were some questions that I wasn’t so sure about, but in overall I think the listening went pretty well.

Reading

There isn’t any separate grammar section like in the old HSK, which is a relief for me. But like I wrote yesterday, the most difficult thing was to be fast enough. I didn’t have time to read all of the articles that closely, just read the questions and found the answers.

The level of the reading section was well suited for level five I think. Some quite easy ones, and some that I wasn’t so sure. I’m not too worried with this either, but getting a low score from this section is also possible.

Writing

In the first part there where two or three tricky sentences and I’m not sure if I put the words in the right order or not. Some of them included words that I didn’t recognize and it made constructing the sentences more difficult. But I finished the first part quite quickly because I wanted to leave more time for the second part.

The words in the first essay were: 辅导,进步,方法,完全,明显. I’m not sure if I used the words 完全 and 明显 correctly in my essay, because there wasn’t much time to think what to write. I wrote about how it’s a good method to have a Chinese person to tutor you when you’re learning Chinese. I almost forgot 进步, but luckily noticed it in time and added one more sentence in the end.

The picture was a photo of a man and woman carrying an armchair together. I wrote how important friends are for us and how a friend should be ready to help another friend in need, for example when moving to a new room.

The writing section is more difficult in the new HSK than in the old HSK, but still the old one isn’t too easy either. In the old HSK there are text or texts where 15 characters here and there are left out. You have to figure out what those characters are and remember how to write them. Besides this there are also texts where words are left out and you have to choose from multiple choices which word is the correct one.

Which one is better? Old or new HSK?

After trying the new HSK for the first time I now prefer it over the old HSK. But I also think the listening section should be more difficult and in the same level with the reading section. New HSK doesn’t have much grammar questions, but I’m not sure if it’s a good or a bad thing in general. I only know that in the old HSK grammar was my weakest section.

At least at the moment I’m happy with my performance in the exam and have a good feeling about it. I really hope that I won’t be disappointed when I get the results.

Did anyone else take the HSK today? How did it go?

12/3/11

Preparing for the new HSK level 5 test

Tomorrow will be the first time I try the new HSK test. At the moment I have old HSK 5 level certificate and now I’m trying the same level on the new HSK. In this post I want to share how I prepared for the test and hope it to be helpful for other learners of Chinese.

Mock tests

My first step towards the new system was to do an online mock test that included the reading section (阅读) and the first part of writing section (书写, where you have to put words in the right order to form a sentence). You can do the test on chinesetesting.cn. I did the test in the beginning of September and got 161 points out of 220.

After that I continued practicing with a book called New HSK Mock Tests for Level 5. I got the book from a friend and unfortunately I don’t have the cd that belongs to the book. So I have only done some reading and writing exercises. From reading section (阅读) I’ve got following scores: 39/45, 31/45 and  31/45. The book contains 8 mock tests and I believe that it gets gradually difficult from the beginning. At Least that usually seems to be the case with these kind of books.

I have only done one listening mock test from which I got 42 points out of 45. Only three wrong! This mock test is also an official one so I guess it should represent the level of the real HSK exam. At Least I hope so based on the listening section! You can find the whole exam with mp3 audio from Confucius Institute’s website.

Writing section

The hardest part for me will be the second part of writing section. There you have to write two short (80 characters) essays first based one a list of words and then based on a picture. Below is a screen capture from the mock test:

80 characters isn’t much, but it gets very difficult if I don’t understand the words given or don’t remember how to write characters related to the picture. For example I know how to use 放松 and 礼物, but don’t know the other three words. I can also type 钓鱼 (to fish), but don’t remember how to write 钓 by hand.

Faster than fast

The tricky part is also to be fast enough. For the reading section there is only 40 minutes to finish all 45 questions. You have to read fast and choose the answer even faster. The third part of reading section includes about five articles and each has three to five questions. First I read the first question and then start reading the article, when I find the answer I read the second questions and continue reading. Seems that in almost every case the answers can be found in order from the article.

In writing section you also have only 40 minutes. I think I’m going to use about 5- 10 minutes with the eight sentences in the first part and then 15-17 minutes with each of the essays.

I still have tomorrow morning to review some little words like 在于,由此,由于 and 至此 which always seem to give a headache for me.

I need 180 points to pass the exam, lets hope I can do it.