Before I left the UK I took the HSK 2 exam, and then completely forgot about it. A few days after arriving in Shanghai, I suddenly realised that the results were out, and I went online to check.
HSK 2 is marked out of 200 (100 for listening, 100 for reading) and I think the pass mark is 130 or something. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I scored 197 out of 200. My certificate has been sent to my parents’ house and I think I might frame it when it eventually arrives in Shanghai.
I’ve already made a good start on the HSK 3 vocabulary, and bought a textbook to guide me through it (textbooks are a lot cheaper here). Of course, I’m picking up more Chinese by just being here. But I felt I wanted more, I needed some lessons – as a teacher myself, I have a fairly good idea of when I need extrinsic motivation.
My work offers face-to-face Chinese lessons, but only once you have completed your probation. There are online lessons too but I keep forgetting to buy a headset.
I contacted a Chinese school about lessons and went along to a trial class, a HSK 3 preparation class. There were 3 others in the class and we went through past papers with the teacher. I did learn from it, but after the class I decided that the format wasn’t right for me – I can go through past papers on my own. What I really needed was speaking and listening practice.
I told the school what days/times worked best for me and they said they’d be in touch when there was a class available. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to hear from them again! But a week later I got a message, they had another student at my level who’d like to do classes on Wednesday and Friday mornings, what did I think?
Yesterday we had our first class. The teacher kept asking when we wanted to take HSK3 which was a bit odd. The other student is a French girl who’s lived here for 8 years. Her listening is much much better than mine but she can’t read or write any characters. I found it quite tough listening to the teacher for 2 hours in Chinese as I get fixated on not knowing individual words, rather than trying to understand the overall meaning. My pronunciation isn’t great either, I don’t always remember which tone I should use and I get really self conscious.
I’m going to carry on learning the HSK3 vocab (I’m about halfway there) alongside classes, and hopefully should see some big improvements soon. Fingers crossed anyway – I will be much happier when I’m a bit more confident, and have a feeling that being more confident will exponentially help my language learning.