Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Lixiang de Jinxingqu

Along with my work, I now have an immediate goal, the HSK Chinese examination on October 15th. For this test, I must be the most well-prepared person around. On my last trip to China, over a year ago, I bought big on books to prepare for it.

It must assess certain skills quite reliably because in the two successive times I took the practice test I got virtually the same result. That being said, it neglects two major skill areas; speaking and writing - a bit like Chinese TOEFL/TOEIC etc. It also is almost completely multichoice - which pedagogically speaking is not a good test design (easy to mark though). It essentially tests how well people do multichoice rather than language ability. Having written answer questions etc. is superior. The Japanese Proficiency Test has similar shortcomings.

One of the aspects of these are that they usually require memorisation and test technique. For example, it will simply ask you what something means, sometimes without much context. Idioms and proverbs are thrown in, and you might have to recall the meaning, or worse, choose which is the correct third character etc. In such situations, I revert to the abhorrent of learning techniques - the kind I tell all my students to avoid - rout learning and the like. I can actually do such base methods well. I found an excellent website (www.chinesemorning.com) which has a 7 day trial period but has lessons for HSK. One is a lesson to teach 800 idioms (of which I already know about 30). It says: "Approximately 72 days (Based on 50min Study/Day) "
Bah! I can learn them in seven days. And well my memory function is pretty efficient. In three days, I have consumed over half of it. Already I heard a couple of them that I learnt on the Chinese radio - which is good, as it shows that I have learnt them.

I will re-do the test tomorrow and also on Sunday to practice my exam technique and to evaluate the points that I need to really focus on in the last two weeks of preparation.

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