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道艺黄帝

New Guy in 上海

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道艺黄帝

大家好,

 

I came to China from the US in Aug '18 with the goal to reach a proficient level of Chinese over the next few years. What does proficient mean? No idea. I'll answer that after a few years and see if I'm satisfied with where I'm at.

 

My question to you guys is about your level. What HSK have you passed and/or how would you assess your own level? What are you capable of doing/not doing in Chinese? How long have you been on this journey? Just like hearing others' stories to see how I've progressed on my own timeline.

 

Hope to meet some more motivated people in the area. 很高兴认识你们

 

道艺

 

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pon00050

If someone asks me now how would I assess my skill in Chinese language, I would say that I am proficient in the language.

What does that mean for myself?

It means that I can talk with native speakers on a variety of topics "without causing the native speakers to struggle to understand what I am saying", whether that may be due to my accent or unidiomatic expressions that I may still be using occasionally now. I am not capable of understanding all idiomatic expressions and specialized/technical vocabulary that native speakers throw at me. Usually, I just ask them to explain. I am capable of conducting everyday tasks should I find myself living in China.

In terms of HSK level, vocabulary-wise, I know everything upto HSK level 4. (Just to be clear, that includes the vocabs for HSK level 4.)

I know some vocabs in HSK level 5 but not all. Probably the most important thing is that I feel confident enough to say "Yes, I speak Chinese."

 

You came to China in 2018 August. So would it be fair to say that you've been there for 6 months?

After spending 6 months in China, I was not a "proficient speaker". I could still carry out daily tasks but my skill was much more limited.

I was scared to talk to some native speakers then because I feared that maybe I wouldn't understand them or they wouldn't understand me.

I am happy to say that I am no longer have that fear now.

 

 

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DavyJonesLocker
1 hour ago, pon00050 said:

If someone asks me now how would I assess my skill in Chinese language, I would say that I am proficient in the language.

 What does that mean for myself?

It means that I can talk with native speakers on a variety of topics "without causing the native speakers to struggle to understand what I am saying", whether that may be due to my accent or unidiomatic expressions that I may still be using occasionally now. I am not capable of understanding all idiomatic expressions and specialized/technical vocabulary that native speakers throw at me. Usually, I just ask them to explain. I am capable of conducting everyday tasks should I find myself living in China.

In terms of HSK level, vocabulary-wise, I know everything upto HSK level 4. (Just to be clear, that includes the vocabs for HSK level 4.)

I know some vocabs in HSK level 5 but not all. Probably the most important thing is that I feel confident enough to say "Yes, I speak Chinese."

 

You came to China in 2018 August. So would it be fair to say that you've been there for 6 months?

After spending 6 months in China, I was not a "proficient speaker". I could still carry out daily tasks but my skill was much more limited.

I was scared to talk to some native speakers then because I feared that maybe I wouldn't understand them or they wouldn't understand me.

I am happy to say that I am no longer have that fear now.

 

 

I think it depends on what you mean proficient. By my definition I cannot see how anyone even at HSK6 is classified as proficient (definition below). I am around HSK5 but every day I have communication problems. For example, this week I get my hair cut, the dude was asking me if I wanted, wax, gel, or hairspray, I then go get my motorbike serviced, i need to know the words for service, chain, brake disk, gear lever adjusted, suspension stiffened etc. I go a restaurant and i cannot ready the menu (not a real issue as they all have pictures) but in English i could read it all, top up gas and can just about read a few words on the top-up machine. I watched the movie operation red sea and can barely get the jist of it as only 46% of words appear in HSK6, read a chapter of a standard novel and the percentage is far less. Go to the supermarket, I would be able to say read the name or maybe 5% of all items, again not a real issue .I go to the physio, words such as vertebrate, lumber spine, spinal disk, sciatic nerve, cupping, bone manipulation 正骨法 all come up regularly. 

 

In reality the real world of living in china, conversation  very often includes contains place names, people, names of items, whats on TV, name of foods, not just basic generalites and passing conversation 

My definition of proficient is to maintain a level a teenager could reach. I think HSK is not a good measure at all of proficiency in the language especially real life China. Open up a standard app like taobao, jingdong , look at the menu of the right hand side and how many items can one who passed HSK realistically list. Open weibo and look at the top posts, how many words do you know. 

 

The longer i live in china the more i realise i am so far aware from proficiency but my definition is probably more stricter than yours.  I agree in that you can work your way around problems moreso as you get better at the language but on a scale of 1 - 10 with 10 being a typical uni grad educated chinese  native, i put myself at a 3-4.

I'd say what i need to do now is just accumulate more and more useful words, more and more practice, listening and reading. In everyday modern topics, even more difficult ones like specialised ones cosmology I have no major issues with the sentences as long as i have pleco to hand, that is to say,  I have seen almost all  the grammar patterns and there no sentence i am baffled by, like i would be with historial chinese or poetry.    

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谢恩灵

I am nearly HSK6 level and I think I will never feel proficient in this language haha. There is always s much to learn and so much to get wrong. Of course I have days where I feel like damn I'm good but then the next day I'm back to feeling like complete shit. I'm in a masters degree program in Chinese with Chinese students and that always puts me back in my place even though my classmates maintain the belief that I'm very skilled (I'm not, Chinese people are just amazed at foreigners who can manage to put together a coherent thought and the other foreigners in our class suck lol ). The other day my teacher said that a foreigner who can use 成语s pretty much qualify as proficient. That is a very difficult goal to achieve. Good luck! 

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DavyJonesLocker
2 hours ago, 谢恩灵 said:

The other day my teacher said that a foreigner who can use 成语s pretty much qualify as proficient. That is a very difficult goal to achieve. Good luck! 

 

I think with chengyus they have to have some personal meaning in your life otherwise it's extremely hard to learn and use I'm the right situation

 

I have a handful that I can use regularly and correctly, but  others I just can't remember no matter how many times I see them. 

 

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imron
9 hours ago, 谢恩灵 said:

I am nearly HSK6 level and I think I will never feel proficient in this language haha

HSK 6 gets you halfway.

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道艺黄帝

Wow. Cool to hear stories from others who set such high expectations for themselves. While I have read everyone's post, most of what I will be responding to will be related to what DavyJones said. I think if I were to weigh in, I'd have to add the following two points:

 

I agree that the very specialized language is something nigh unachievable. Chinese is the third language I've dedicated myself to studying, and I've already had to come to terms that there are such high ceilings that exist in most modern languages that I can never hope to reach. Additionally, as you mentioned, there is so much cultural context that we've missed out on simply by not growing up in China. Today, while taking a practice HSK4 test, I was thrown off twice by names like 小乐 and 保罗.  Not to mention the countless celebrities, companies, politicians, provinces, districts, etc.

 

But there are two things that I've learned both over the years of studying language and the short 7 month period I've been here in China. Number one is that this specialized language ceiling still exists for everyone in their own native language. Half of the car parts and body parts you mentioned I'd never heard of until reading your post. This is just a reality of life - you will only get to be familiar with the specialized language in the fields you are drawn to. Number two is that I've come to realize how much the Chinese themselves even struggle with speaking one unified 普通话. Just off of the top of my head, I can think of three recent examples of locals I've met here in Shanghai who've had worse 普通话 than I have. Not only there are some elders in this city who simply missed the switch to the national language, I've also met some of the minorities and small townies who struggle with it. Not only that, it should be evident by watching two minutes of TV and seeing every single program subtitled that there are still some major language barriers that need to be overcome.

 

Before coming here, I had no clue the situation was so dire. It really has been eye opening as it's something that's either unknown to most people in the west or (in the least conspiratorial way possible) hidden from us.

 

Without wanting to ramble to much, I'd like to close with an assessment of my own level. I recognize I still have at least a few year journey ahead of me if I want to get to where I want to be. That's fine - I'm willing to be patient. I'm proud of how much I've come in only seven months, jumping right to HSK2, then jumping again to 4. But while I may be able to strive in the safe, carefully spoken environment of these language schools, in real situations with non-English speaking Chinese, I'm still at the average 20-40% comprehension rate, having to listen for key words and guess what the context of what they're saying is. As someone else said, some days I can get real 流利, and other days I struggle to even order a pizza with a side salad.

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imron
5 hours ago, 道艺黄帝 said:

watching two minutes of TV and seeing every single program subtitled

 

This is due to accessibility laws for deaf people.  Specifically this one.

中华人民共和国残疾人保障法 said:

第四十三条 政府和社会采取下列措施,丰富残疾人的精神文化生活:
      ……
   (三)开办电视手语节目,开办残疾人专题广播栏目,推进电视栏目、影视作品加配字幕、解说;
 

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道艺黄帝

Got it. I was in BJ the week of the 3rd while  習大大 was having his annual meeting. I tried to watch some of the conference on TV, but the entire time there was a guy dubbing the entire thing. It was so frustrating to watch that I only kept it on for 15 minutes. The other day, I asked a local friend of mine why this happened, and he explained the dub served to speak a neutral/standardized 普通话 so they could reach the most amount citizens as possible.

 

@imron How do you weigh in on this? (sorry, can't seem to find the reply/quote button)

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Publius

Yes, TV programs produced in the 1990s did not usually have subtitles. Before that, in the 1970s, TV was rare. People got their news from the radio, and they understood just fine.

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imron
22 hours ago, 道艺黄帝 said:

@imron How do you weigh in on this?

I've no idea why they would dub Xi, my only comment was on the prevalence of subtitles being linked to accessibility laws rather than people being unable to understand what they were listening to.

 

22 hours ago, 道艺黄帝 said:

(sorry, can't seem to find the reply/quote button)

Highlight the text you wish to quote and a "Quote selection" button will appear.

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道艺黄帝
4 hours ago, imron said:

Highlight the text you wish to quote and a "Quote selection" button will appear.

Cool. Got it, thanks.

 

On 3/7/2019 at 1:14 PM, DavyJonesLocker said:

The longer i live in china the more i realise i am so far aware from proficiency

Now assuming you're from the west, what's your take on non-native English speakers living in your country? Would you still consider them far from proficient? Does it take knowing specialized vocabulary in as many areas as you described to be proficient?

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