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About this blog

I'm starting this blog because sometimes I feel like saying something about (my) Chinese learning that isn't really worth a forum post or is not a question. Somewhere to document my progress. It has been just about exactly a year now of consistent work, so I'm interested to see where my 普通话 is next New Year's holiday. I will try to use this space to post some interesting things I find along the climb!

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Another Textbook banged out



Completed this book in record time(for me), about 5-6 weeks cover to cover. Felt like an accomplishment as there is zero English or pinyin, and I was able to follow the analysis of all the questions and answers pretty well. This was all review, as I've already taken the HSK 4, though I learned some new vocab that was used for question analysis. My rationale in doing this book was just more repetition or sentence structures and vocab usage. I did 5 complete listening tests, plus 2 hours of audio breaking down listening questions into categories like "place questions", "attitude questions" etc. Also read every tape-script. 3.5 hours of audio with this book. Completed the writing section as well with broke the questions down by grammar type and included 6 practice tests with answers/sample answers. Not the most exciting book in the world, but certainly some good review. 


Next up is HSKK Intermediate. This will again be review, as I've already taken and passed the HSKK Inermediate. However, I took the speaking test with almost no specific test preparation, so I think this will be even more useful for when I take the HSKK again along with HSK 5 test sometime in the future. Over 4 hours audio with this book, and I'm looking forward to hearing the sample speaking answers/photo describing. I'm going to try and knock this one out in the same amount of time, around 5-6 weeks. 



Along with this, I'm still working my way through Kubler (on unit 15 of 24).


Current study schedule:

1. Kubler Intermediate Spoken and Practice

2. HSK 1-4 Vocabulary Master

3. HSKK Intermediate



Chairman's Bao

《幸福的方向》 (kind of sappy soap opera, but language is easy enough to follow quite well.

Random Youtube videos

Various books




CME series Completed - finally!


A nice milestone tonight: Finally finished the 5 book series of Chinese Made Easier. I started Book 1 with a teacher 5 years ago, the book was recommended to me by the school as being good for someone living "in country" and wanting practical everyday language. The series definitely lived up to that reputation. There is lot's of crossover with HSK books, but CME has plenty of vocab that is very useful in everyday life, but outside the HSK material. The overall level feels similar, CME 5 feeling roughly like HSK 5, with a more practical bent. The book did an excellent job of slowly weening off pinyin and a particularly good with introducing Surnames and given names - new ones in every story, adding up to a lot over the course of 5 books.  There is no "小明“ or ”马克“. Lots of place names, jobs, household items, office, countryside, medical etc language. The author was kind enough to supply all of the pdfs and mp3s free of charge, as the book is out of print. I did book 1 to 4 straight through but took a year break while doing different resources before starting book 5. Altogether it's been about 5 years, all done with various tutors, so it feels like an accomplishment to finally have finished. Tonight, on the last unit of book 5, I couldn't help but noticing how much smoother I was than even Book 4, let alone Book 1. Thank you Martin Symonds for an excellent and fun Chinese learning series!



**I have added a few more observations in the comments section below...


Chinese Breeze done and dusted


Hit another milestone as I finished the last Chinese Breeze Graded reader tonight. Started the first one back when I had just started learning characters and remember really struggling to read it. Got the next level and probably let them sit on the shelf for a long time, read one, let them sit, read one, etc - reading is something I always have to really force myself to do. The last level (4) was kindly given to me by Chinese Forums member Becky82 and I breezed through them (pun intended) very quickly and easily. image.thumb.jpeg.8b9f3c6fc9be89b3bb5236c188d75c88.jpeg


21 books in all, 4 levels. The green ones I already gave to another learner after I finished them. I have to say that although the stories are a bit cheesy, I quite enjoyed reading most of them. There is no question that they are excellent practice for Hanzi, vocab, grammar, listening and even some culture. Also love the illustrations! I'm going to pass them on to Chinese Forums member TaxiAsh when he visits Beijing at the end of this month.


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Now on to some Intermediate Level Sinolingua Readers I bought...






Saw this book(2009, 235pg) on Taobao, and picked it up. It was a definitely a bit below my level(moving on from Hsk4). According to my SRS, I added less than 50 new words, a few nice ones though. I don't think there was any grammar that was new to me, maybe some slight variations. I did every listening and exercise and still blew through it in two weeks, a unit a day(1 hr a day). I thought it was pretty useful as a review though and could be considered "very" comprehensible input.


I particularly liked the Speaking exercises in every unit, which included prompts to speak about a particular topic as well as role plays. I did all of them on my own, speaking aloud. Another good exercise in each unit requires you to summarize each dialog into a short paragraph, which I did orally(the correct summary is included in the answer key).



There is a volume 2 and I will go ahead and burn through that one as well.


Chinese Breeze progress


I was reminded by the "2022 goals" thread that I had listed a goal of completing all the Chinese Breeze level 2 and 3 readers. Up to now, I had only completed 3 of 7 of 二级 and hadn't cracked one open in 6 months. So last week I banged out the remaining 4 books of 二级. The nice thing was that I was able to read them extremely easily. I remember a year ago I found them very slow going. Now I was able to read them in one sitting of about 1.5 hours each and not looking up anything , just glancing at a few footnoted items. I also rarely had to re-read a sentence to get the meaning. I put that down to reading DuChinese intermediate every day and just general improvement.



I also ordered (and received next day - 京东谢谢!)four of the five level 3 books and will start in on them next week.




4上 to 下


Finally finished Hsk-4上. Took me six months. That's a bit slow but I'm simultaneously studying the Chinese Made Easier 4 book and almost halfway through that as well. The CME and Hsk series have a different focus, but also overlap in many places. Tomorrow I will break the seal on the 4下 book. I definitely feel it's getting harder, but not overly difficult, so I think Im at my sweet spot.




I happened to be near Beijing Foreign Studies university today and saw there was a bookstore, so I popped in for a look. They had loads of Chinese study books, graded readers and so on. I need more resources like I need a hole in the head but I couldn't help myself. I can NEVER have enough listening, so I picked up 汉语听力系列教材( hanyu tingli xilie jiaocai). I assumed intermediate level but was surprised to see:

Elementary 上 = hsk3

Elementary 下 = hsk4.

Intermediate 上and下 comprises hsk 5


So I took the hsk 4 one for now and the hsk 5 for later. These have downloadable mp3s by scanning the QR code.


I also bought Short-Term Listening and Short-Term Reading, again Elementary corresponds to Hsk 4(Elementary sounds so low ?). This came with a CD of mp3s, so I will have to go to a copy shop and get them to put it on a usb for me.


Finally, I took a sort of Hsk4 dictionary 词汇学习手册 and a book of cloze practice for Hsk4 words. Altogether ran me 165 块. Not for dust collection, I will finish them all ?





It took me quite a while to knock these off since I only did one lesson a week with a teacher on this book. (I'm also busy working my way through Chinese Made easier - book 1 and 2 done, halfway through book 3.) I feel a sense of accomplishment having stuck with the BASIC series consistently and finishing the Spoken, Written and Practice books. I think it's a fantastic set of books and found lots that has been useful in real life. I also found it to contain quite a bit of language that I haven't come across in other places and even enjoyed some of the more "dated" vocab. The books ( especially the practice book) feels like a somewhat modernized version of FSI. I am now going to begin the Intermediate level books of the same series.

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