Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

  • Why you should look around

    Since 2003, Chinese-forums.com has been helping people learn Chinese faster and get to China sooner. Our members can recommend beginner textbooks, help you out with obscure classical vocabulary, and tell you where to get the best street food in Xi'an. And we're friendly about it too. 

    Have a look at what's going on, or search for something specific. We hope you'll join us. 
heqi_liegou

How useful HSK6 vocabulary really is?

Recommended Posts

heqi_liegou

I guess that HSK6 vocabulary is for many Chinese learners a kind of ultimate goal towards which they are striving for (even though they probably have read that learning new characters does not end at that point). But so far, I have not found a description - based on actual experiences - how useful HSK6 vocabulary really is.

 

I suppose with that vocabulary newspapers are somewhat readable, how about other media? (books, films, daily conversation). I would like to hear your experiences?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

realmayo

For HSK 6 there are definitely words there where you wonder: 'why is this word on the list, but these equally useful (or more useful) words aren't.'

 

I don't think it's super useful as a real target. If you know half of the words on the list I'd say there's no point making a real effort to learn the other half [edit: I mean, no point prioritising the other half over other words you come across elsewhere]. And, if you come across two new words and only one is on the list, it's not an automatic choice to say 'learn the one that's on the list and don't bother with the other one'.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
daofeishi

The only indication you'll ever get of the "usefulness" of vocabulary is when you're out and about using the language, and discovering what words and phrases native speakers actually use. If you read newspapers, magazines and novels, listen to the radio, watch TV and talk to real life Chinese people, you'll quickly get to understand which words are important and which are less so. 

 

I have made it a principle to always study vocabulary in context, so that most words I know are words I've seen, read or heard used by a native speaker. After 6-7 years now, I recognize most of the HSK 6 vocabulary when skimming through the list. If my experience is anything to go by, I'd say the list is "useful", as in, you'll find people use those words in everyday life, and you could miss out on something by not knowing them. 

 

However, the best way of learning those words is  probably not by memorizing the list cold turkey. Instead, if your goal is to be able to read a newspaper, pick up a newspaper and get the dictionary. After a few hundred repetitions the important vocabulary will tend to stick. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
imron
Instead, if your goal is to be able to read a newspaper, pick up a newspaper and get the dictionary. After a few hundred repetitions, the important vocabulary will tend to stick.

I agree with this.

 

Learning words from a list is very poor preparation for actual reading.  Not just because of different words that may or may not be on the list, but because reading involves far more than just remembering vocabulary.

 

You also need to know how to identify word boundaries (especially for unknown words and names), you need to be familiar with sentence patterns and structures, you need to process all of that at speeds that are conducive to reading, and you need the mental stamina to be able to keep up all of those things for a sustained period of time.

 

You might look at a newspaper article and think "I can't read this", but it's still worth plugging away at it, and in reality learning words from a newspaper article where you understand almost none of the words is no worse than just picking words at random from something like an HSK list.  After all, the HSK list was built as an approximation of words that you are likely to encounter in native content.  By learning from native content you'll eventually be learning all the words on the list anyway - just not in the same order.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
realmayo

Well, there are two things: the skill of reading, and the ability to remember the meaning of words.

 

For the latter, learning a list of words can be more efficient sometimes, I think. Unambiguous words, mainly. It means you have to look up fewer words when reading, which means that when you are reading you can focus more on building the 'skill' of reading. 

 

So I think the 'if you want to learn to read a newspaper, read newspapers' needs to be a bit more nuanced. I'm not sure anyone would say: 'if you want to be able to talk to people in Chinese, just talk to people in Chinese' because you'd end up embedding all kinds of horrible bad pronunciation habits in your speech and they will take ages to unlearn, assuming you can even be understood in the first place.

 

Instead, you'd get advice like 'practise tones', 'record yourself speaking' and so on.

 

So there's room for more focussed work when it comes to reading, at least for some people. Some people might be able to stay focussed on reading even when constantly breaking off to look up words. Others might find that too frustrating but are more okay with spending extra time drilling vocabulary. But both people are perhaps spending the same amount of time actually 'reading'.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Kelby

I'm plugging through the HSK 5 and 6 lists now, and I can definitely tell that some words are really esoteric. In those cases, my experience is just to ban the cards or ignore them entirely after my initial review.

 

For me, the most important things from both lists are:

  1. Things I know I've seen elsewhere or heard in conversation.
  2. Things I've banned or ignored but have appeared in what I read anyway.
  3. Chengyu that will probably be on the test (not many of these, apparently).
  4. Words I feel I'll use in conversation.

All of that said, my "cold turkey," studying of HSK words and common characters just serves as a warmup for whatever I'm reading at the time. I'm going through a kid's history book now and it's interesting how much crossover I still see between it and the HSK lists. The reading is where the words get cemented definitely, but if I wasn't exposed to them first on the list they'd be far more time consuming to learn.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
eliaso

I guess that HSK6 vocabulary is for many Chinese learners a kind of ultimate goal towards which they are striving for

 

 

That's what I sort of thought when I was still planning on taking up studies in Chinese and also at the beginning of my studies. Now a bit after a year of serious learning and being able to pass HSK 4 level mock tests I have started to think that HSK 6 isn't anything that special.

 

Know people who have passed it and their skills aren't * that * great. Know people who are well beyond that level but honest native speakers will tell that they still have a long way to go and they themselves know it as well. Or as my bi-lingual friend put it "come on man, HSK 6 is still pretty easy stuff!". Right now I see HSK 6 as a kind of a last stepping stone before getting into the deep end with real native material.

 

Also what the others said - learning that vocab out of context makes little sense to me. Better do it with some textbook material and learn how to actually use it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...