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XiaoXi

Surprised at HSK 5..

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XiaoXi

I've never been much of a believer in exams for languages but recently I've been thinking about some kind of employment related to Chinese so would obviously need proof in the form of an exam. I was planning to take HSK 5 since I figured that was probably my level and so started some preparing. I rarely read in Chinese so that was my first step in getting ready. But then I had a look at the mock exam for HSK 5 and was quite surprised. Particularly the listening section seemed like a bit of a joke. It seemed more like what I thought HSK 2 or 3 would be like.

 

The audio is all slow and crystal clear and it's just like "johnny it's time for school now", "ok mum", "are your clothes ready?", "Hold on I need to use the toilet first". Then the question is like 'what does Johnny need to do?" A. Brush his teeth. B. Use the toilet. C. Fly to the moon. D. Argue with his mum.

 

I searched around the internet and it seems even though they say HSK 5 is equivalent to C1, it's actually probably not. I had a look at HSK 6 and that seems quite hard. I guess it's something to work towards.

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imron
6 hours ago, XiaoXi said:

and it seems even though they say HSK 5 is equivalent to C1, it's actually probably not

Yes.  It is a common criticism of the HSK, that the claimed CFR levels are not accurate.

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roddy

Yep, for example. Unfortunately the key link is no longer available (although given that was the best part of a decade ago, there may well be something else available)

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艾墨本

@XiaoXi Yep, by many standards, passing HSK 6 (the highest level and also roughly twice the content of HSK 5) will get you to a upper intermediate level. HSK 5 is intermediate, but nothing more. Check the comparison chart on this wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanyu_Shuiping_Kaoshi

 

That said, if you try to learn what the test encourages you to learn and not what is required to do well on the test, you might find it is a useful tool for pushing language acquisition. Unfortunately, in most situations the HSK has led to a lot of washback in which content is adjusted to do well on the test instead of the test assessing what has been learned. This results in students with HSK 6 certificates but "real" levels more similar to HSK 4 or a low 5 at best.

 

I wrote about my experience with the HSK 5 and took the lessons I learned there into my preparation for HSK 6. It made the process much more rewarding. Despite passing HSK 6, I still study the material for it because I do find the structure and order of the content to be appropriate even if the test lacks in its assessment capabilities.

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ZhangKaiRong

Yes, HSK is overrated, it has been an ongoing debate ever since the introduction of the new HSK system.

 

But serious question: what makes you think that any employer (apart from some overly bureaucratic government organizations) needs a proof of your Chinese language proficiency in the form of an HSK exam certificate? I don't know where you live, but the chances are quite high that you will be interviewed in Chinese anyway, therefore I see HSK as a waste of time solely for this purpose (and your certificate will be invalid in two years anyway). At my company, I personally interviewed many candidates on their assumed / implied Chinese proficiency, as we all know that HSK is extremely unreliable in terms of actual proficiency, and my experience with HSK 4 to HSK 6 cert holders is quite disappointing overall.

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mungouk

According to this, HSK 5 or above gets you 10 extra points in the points-based system for work visas.

 

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roddy

I think the HSK is still worth getting, as long as you don't fixate on it. Learn Chinese as best you can, then get the best grade you can if you are curious or think it might be useful. You might find (as I do) that an exam is a good source of focus and motivation, and the certificate might get you in the door for an interview or something. But don't think HSK6 = Done. Us old-timers who remember the old Advanced exam don't like that...

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thechamp

I think the HSK is still worth it just for something specific to work towards after you've studied Chinese for a while. I don't think its ever directly helped me get a job . The only job I've had where Chinese was a requirement, I was given a translation exercise and then had an interview in Chinese - HSK was never mentioned.

 

I do think that it means something to people who might not be particularly familiar with Chinese at all, and who just want to know that you have some level and some qualification in the language - because for some reason fluency in languages seems to be one of the most exaggerated things on people's CVs. People will put 'fluent in French' if they took it in school, and also 'fluent in french' if they lived in rural France for five years. Qualifications are just to show that you're not the former.

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XiaoXi
8 hours ago, roddy said:

Yep, for example. Unfortunately the key link is no longer available (although given that was the best part of a decade ago, there may well be something else available)

The new exams have been out for longer than I thought..time flies.

 

8 hours ago, 艾墨本 said:

I wrote about my experience with the HSK 5 and took the lessons I learned there into my preparation for HSK 6. It made the process much more rewarding. Despite passing HSK 6, I still study the material for it because I do find the structure and order of the content to be appropriate even if the test lacks in its assessment capabilities.

Do you think in my position it's worth just going straight for the 6 and skipping the 5? The only thing making me hesitant is that I've never taken any of the exams before so just that will surely make me get a lower score than I otherwise would do the first time. Perhaps better to do 6 twice rather than 5 then 6 though?

 

8 hours ago, ZhangKaiRong said:

But serious question: what makes you think that any employer (apart from some overly bureaucratic government organizations) needs a proof of your Chinese language proficiency in the form of an HSK exam certificate?

Logically they wouldn't do, but then if the employment process was logical then no one would use interviews as a method for finding people who can do a job in the first place. Employers seem to need *something* at least as proof. Just like the rely on things like degrees and such which equally aren't much of an indication in knowledge or ability in a field. I see most jobs that require language ability have B2 and such plastered everywhere though. Since the interviewer may not have ability in the language at all it can often be simpler just to trust an exam certificate.

 

8 hours ago, ZhangKaiRong said:

I don't know where you live, but the chances are quite high that you will be interviewed in Chinese anyway

Not sure if that is guaranteed. My ex is Chinese and she interviewed for many jobs in England, all with Chinese language ability as the main requirement and none of the interviewers were Chinese, nor were the interviews in Chinese. The other issue anyway is you have to narrow down candidates by CV before even getting to interview stage so seeing HSK or C1 or whatever on the CV can make things simpler.

 

But I agree, language proficiency exams are pretty silly. I've never wanted to take one before.

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XiaoXi
6 hours ago, roddy said:

I think the HSK is still worth getting, as long as you don't fixate on it. Learn Chinese as best you can, then get the best grade you can if you are curious or think it might be useful. You might find (as I do) that an exam is a good source of focus and motivation, and the certificate might get you in the door for an interview or something. But don't think HSK6 = Done. Us old-timers who remember the old Advanced exam don't like that...

According to the WIKI entry the character requirement is 1685 for HSK 5 so that would put it at intermediate anyway wouldn't it? Hardly advanced. With 2663 for HSK 6 that puts it probably about C1 with something like 4000-5000 for a theoretical HSK 7 / C2 level.

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imron
8 minutes ago, XiaoXi said:

and none of the interviewers were Chinese, nor were the interviews in Chinese

That's why they needed someone who could speak Chinese!

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XiaoXi
4 hours ago, thechamp said:

People will put 'fluent in French' if they took it in school, and also 'fluent in french' if they lived in rural France for five years. Qualifications are just to show that you're not the former.

Yes 'fluent' is a very vague term. It basically means you speak without having to stop and think. But your grammar may be all over the place, tones all wrong, pronunciation sounding 100% fake etc. There are so many people who live in foreign countries and barely know more than a few words in the country's language. Both doing a French at school and living in France for 5 years can mean almost nothing at all. Although having said that, people can also pass an exam, even at a high level and still have very little ability...OR they forgot about half of that they knew at the time of the exam just a year or so afterwards.

 

I guess the only real way to prove your ability to an employer for real is for him to get someone Chinese to chat with you to test you or give you some document to translate etc.

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XiaoXi
2 minutes ago, imron said:

That's why they needed someone who could speak Chinese!

Yeah that's often the case lol. For one job, once she got to the second stage of the interview, they got someone to phone her from Singapore to test her Chinese ability. She obviously didn't have any language certificates so they had to make sure her Asian appearance wasn't just for show.

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