Becoming fluent in Chinese

While I’m still not done with my goal setting for 2012, I wanted to first think of my long term goals. Before I started my degree at the Sun Yat-Sen University, I said I want to be fluent when I graduate. Right now it feels like a huge task to become fluent during the next two years.

But when I look at my last year and years before that with Chinese. Have I spent too much time doing nothing useful? Yes! Can I spend more time learning? Yes, absolutely. But if I want to reach fluency in two years, then I need to start working harder. And that is what I’m ready to do.

Fluent Chinese in three months?

I started really thinking about all this when I read that Benny is trying to learn fluent Mandarin in three months. Let’s take a look what kind of goals he has for these three months:

  • That’s fluency as in being able to do most of what I can do in English, in social situations in Mandarin.
  • I won’t hold up the flow of conversations (on either my side or the person I’m talking to)
  • something along the lines of level C1 (European Common Framework of languages)
  • will be to be able to read menus and signs + newspaper headlines

He brings up the C1 level, but is only aiming for the oral part of it. So what does this oral C1 mean?


  • I can understand extended speech even when it is not clearly structured and when relationships are only implied and not signalled explicitly. I can understand television programmes and films without too much effort.


  • I can express myself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. I can use language flexibly and effectively for social and professional purposes. I can formulate ideas and opinions with precision and relate my contribution skilfully to those of other speakers.
  • I can present clear, detailed descriptions of complex subjects integrating sub-themes, developing particular points and rounding off with an appropriate conclusion.

I think that even when you take the reading and writing out of the combination, it is still impossible to get to C1 in Chinese in just three months. However, if Benny does it and proofs it well enough, I’m ready to eat my hat.

When will I become fluent?

What I thank Benny for is that his project made me think of my own goals and how much effort I’m putting into my Chinese studies. Like I said in the beginning of this post, I want to be fluent when I graduate in the beginning of 2014.

What does fluency mean for me?

With HSK I want to pass HSK6. The Fachverband Chinesisch thinks that HSK6 with a good score would be more like B2 than C2 (Hanban that coordinates the HSK exams consider HSK6 to be the same level with C2). I haven’t taken the HSK6 yet, so you have to wait for a while to hear my own argumentative opinion about this. My plan is to pass HSK6 in December 2013.

My listening is at perhaps at the B1 level at the moment and I want to get it to C1 in two years. I want my Mandarin to be as good as my English, but note that my English is far from perfect. I want to understand almost everything in news, movies and TV-series (not including really technical stuff where I would have problems in English  too).

In reading I want to be able to enjoy reading Chinese novels and history books. Right now I’m just about to finish my first Chinese novel and I’m thinking about my goal for 2012. How many books should I read this year in Chinese?

In spoken Chinese I want to also get to the same level than my English is. The problem is that month by month I feel like my English is getting worse due to the lack of use of spoken English.

In writing I want to be able to write a blog like this but in Chinese. With same level of difficulty than I’m writing in English right now.

What am I going to do in order to become fluent?

This is what I’m going over at the moment. Thinking of my goals for 2012 and how high I should aim that I’ll be fluent after two years. I’m not looking for impossible goals, as then I would just give up, but I’m ready to do more work than ever before with my Chinese. And I have to as Chinese is my only skill at the moment and I probably won’t study other degrees after graduation.

If you have any advice or tips for me, they’re all welcome! I would also like to hear what are your goals and how fluent in Chinese you want to become?