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Moshen

What is fluency? Listening vs. speaking

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Pall

Sorry to intefere, since I'm a complete beginner in Chinese. However, the question raised is of a broader nature, and I can speak on it regarding my English. I've read all the above fast, never looking up a word in the dictionary, and understood all. I belive, I would understand pretty much by listening provided that the speakers speak more or less British English as to pronunciation. If not, I'm not too sure. As far as I know, Mandarine pronanciation varies greatly. Perhaps, you should take that into account. As to expressing myself, you can judge by my writing, I'm not using Google or something at the moment. I gess, it is far from good. Bu anyhow or other I hope I can axpress my main ideas. Meybe that can be the criterium of fluency, if you regard me as fluent after all? If you don't, then my idea is wrong.

As to spelling I can see many of my mistakes myself now, but I didn't noticed them while writing.

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道艺黄帝

There are some interesting ideas being thrown around here, and I'd like to respond to specific people, but I can't seem to figure out how to quote on a phone. 

 

Someone mentioned that to be considered fluent, one must be able to relay information at an equally accurate level across L1 and L2. This thinking is flawed for me because of language gaps - when learning new information (aside from explicitly studying a language) you must use a given language to communicate the concepts. 

 

I studied some history and math while living in Latin America, and I knew how to express key vocabulary in Spanish, yet I hadn't taken the time to learn them in English. My students throughout the years have faced a similar challenge - they get their education in the US in English, but often struggle to describe the information to their parents in their L1. I don't think anyone would question my English fluency or their L1 fluency. 

 

I really like the idea of creating a rough list of topics one must be able to navigate to reach a fluency proficiency level. I agree that the standard would most likely have to be language and maybe even culture/region specific. In Dominican Republic, the daily baseball and Bachata conversations I encountered were far different than the soccer and tango ones in South America. 

 

I think that's one of the key things I've learned about conversing fluently - a lot of the topics are not attainable through books and class, but rather learning the names of towns, cities, celebrities, songs, movies etc. 

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Moshen
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I think that's one of the key things I've learned about conversing fluently - a lot of the topics are not attainable through books and class, but rather learning the names of towns, cities, celebrities, songs, movies etc. 

 

That's an interesting point.  And being a person who can't converse at all about sports even in English since I am totally uninterested in it, I don't think being able to have a conversation on a topic that's not of interest to oneself can come into the definition of fluency (unless that's your goal, to be able to converse about anything with anyone). 

 

For me, I am interested only in learning to converse in the foreign language in topics that I have a practical need for or that interest me.

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道艺黄帝

Even if your goal is the most practical Chinese, I'd doubt you would never face a social situation or small talk conversation with colleagues/business partners/students etc. It's worth learning pop culture for those intents and purposes-will make your Chinese much more fruitful

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DavyJonesLocker
1 hour ago, Moshen said:

  And being a person who can't converse at all about sports even in English since I am totally uninterested in it, I don't think being able to have a conversation on a topic that's not of interest to oneself can come into the definition of fluency (unless that's your goal, to be able to converse about anything with anyone). 

 

 

Yup, agree with this. I have zero interest in football and from a UK male perspective that's a very popular topic. I can barely name a single young  celebrity or popular modern  singer, Instagram people etc which a huge amount of younger generation would know.  I don't watch soaps and rarely watch mainstream TV so a lot of conversations I couldn't have with the average Joe in the UK. The topics have to have mutual interest . I disagree that there has to be a defined set  of topics to be able to converse on. 

 

 

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Luxi

This in-depth article from BBC - Future seems a fitting contribution here.  It's also fascinating reading and raises some very interesting points. 

 

"How do we measure language fluency?"  by Eva Sandoval 

 

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mungouk
On 8/11/2019 at 10:39 AM, 道艺黄帝 said:

I really like the idea of creating a rough list of topics one must be able to navigate to reach a fluency proficiency level.

 

Most textbooks, as well as the Hanban HSK vocab lists, have done this. Meeting friends, inviting someone to dinner, talking about exams, discussing the true nature of happiness...  

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Jim

...asking when you're going to get paid...

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mungouk
1 minute ago, Jim said:

...asking when you're going to get paid...

 

haha!

 

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Luxi

Yes, an excellent article. Also includes links to very interesting sites.

 

I like the fact that it gives objective criteria to measure fluency. I'm sure that they could be easily modified and applied to Chinese and Sino-Tibetan languages in general, they probably have already. Also useful to check where am I in my study and what to aim for.

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mungouk

Yes, it would be interesting to know what assessment criteria are used in the HSKK exams.  

 

Presumably these are published somewhere, in Chinese only.

 

Edit: yes and they're sitting right here on my hard drive.... See PDF HSKK-pingfen.pdf 

 

Would someone like to summarise in English?

 

 

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mungouk

OK I just ran it through google translate and fixed a couple of obvious errors. 

 

HSKK score description (for self-test)


In order to further facilitate candidates to use the simulation questions to achieve practice and self-test purposes in the preparation process, the HSKK self-test score description is now published.


HSKK is divided into three levels: elementary, intermediate and advanced. It includes 6 types of questions: repetition after listening, answering after listening, repeating after listening, reading aloud, reading and answering questions. A brief description of each question type scoring standard is as follows.

 

 

1. Repeat after listening
 

Applicable questions: HSKK (primary) questions 1-15, HSKK (intermediate) questions 1-10. Answer request: Play a sentence for each question and ask the candidate to repeat it after listening.
 

Rating grade: High: Candidates can accurately repeat the sentences they hear.

Medium: Candidates cannot repeat the sentences they hear completely.

Low: Candidate duplicate content is very poorly correlated with the sentence being played.
 

2. Answer after listening

 

Applicable questions: HSKK (primary) questions 16-25. Answer request: Play a question for each question and ask the candidate to give a short answer after listening.

 

Rating grade: High: Candidates can answer questions correctly and concisely.

Medium: Candidates can answer questions correctly, with pauses, repetitions, grammatical errors, etc.

Low: Candidates' answers are unclear.

 

3. Rehearsal after listening

 

Applicable questions: HSKK (Advanced) Questions 1-3. Answer requirements: Each paragraph plays a paragraph, requiring candidates to repeat after listening.

 

Rating grade: High: Candidates can fully and fluently retell the main content of the material, with less pauses and repetitions.

Medium: Candidates can retell some of the material content, pause, repeat more, have grammatical errors.

Low: Candidates' retelling content and raw materials are large and large, the language is disorderly, and the amount of information is small.

 

4. Read aloud

 

Applicable questions: HSKK (Advanced) Question 4. Answer request: A paragraph is provided on the test paper and the candidate is required to read it.

 

Rating grade: High: Candidates read fluently, can grasp the voice, intonation, etc., with a small amount of misreading, repetition, pause Wait.

Medium: Candidates can read most of the content, but there are more misreads, pauses, repetitions, etc.

Low: Candidates can only read a small number of sentences.

 

5. Look at the picture.

 

Applicable questions: HSKK (intermediate) questions 11-12. Answer request: Provide a picture for each question, ask the candidate to speak a paragraph with the picture.


Rating grade: High: The candidate's answer is consistent with the content of the picture, and the expression is fluent, with a small pause and repetition.
Medium: The candidate's answer is basically consistent with the content of the picture, with pauses, repetitions, and grammatical errors.
Low: The candidate's answer is basically unrelated to the content of the picture, and the amount of information is small and disorderly.

 

6. Answer the question


Applicable questions: HSKK (primary) questions 26-27, HSKK (intermediate) questions 13-14, HSKK (high level) questions 5-6. Answer request: Two questions are provided on the test paper, asking the candidate to answer the question.

 

Rating grade: High: Candidates can answer questions, rich in content, fluent in expression, with a small pause, repetition, grammar mistakes.

Medium: Candidates can answer questions, but the amount of information is small, pauses, repetitions, and grammatical errors.

Low: Candidates answer questions, and the amount of information is small and incoherent. Note: Candidates do not answer, according to 0 points.

 

--

 

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mungouk

So, to address the OP @Moshen's question about listening vs speaking in fluency, here's some of what the British Council says:

 

Quote

Fluency is the flow and efficiency with which you express your ideas, particularly when speaking. A few grammar mistakes may appear here and there in the explanation, but it should be delivered in a way that is easy to understand and shows how comfortable you are with the language.

 

(Full article... pretty short and worth reading.) 

 

That said, there is also an aspect of how well you can keep a conversation going, which is also related to listening. For example, asking someone to repeat themselves, what something means, and so on. 

 

Similarly with speaking: circumlocution, or finding a way to say something for which you don't have the vocabulary, is also a useful skill.  For example pointing and saying 那个东西 or describing something if you don't know the exact word.  Maybe even miming — if you're spontaneous enough then you can keep the flow going, which is what fluency is about.

 

I think we all recognise that "fluency" has a vague meaning amongst the general public, but since most of us here are language-learners why don't we all make an effort to understand and propagate the accurate linguistic meaning?

 

 

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mungouk
On 5/25/2019 at 2:18 AM, Dawei3 said:

I heard a non-Chinese Toastmaster in China give a superb talk in Chinese;  I thought "he's very fluent."  Later, I learned that he was much less fluent than I.  

 

Yes, because it's relatively easy to memorise words that you don't understand, and to speak with good pronunciation... but much harder to have a flowing conversation with a native speaker. 

 

Which is why exams like IELTS, LAMDA and many entrance tests for international schools have a Q&A section with the examiner as well as all the other bits and pieces. 

CAPTCHA has "I am not a robot".  These tests are checking "I am not a parrot". 

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NinjaTurtle

One new idea I have picked up from this thread is that a person can be fluent in reading and writing but not in speaking and listening. Some people say a person has to be fluent in all four skills in order to be ‘truly fluent’. But I am leaning towards the idea that a person can be fluent in speaking and listening while not being fluent in reading and writing.

 

 

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mungouk
5 minutes ago, NinjaTurtle said:

a person can be fluent in reading and writing but not in speaking and listening

 

In that case I think you're missing the key point. 

Fluency is mainly about "production" — speaking, and to some extent writing. 

 

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NinjaTurtle

" Fluency is about "production" — speaking, and to some extent writing."

 

I disagree. A person can be illiterate and still be fluent. I guess it is just how we look at it. 

 

"Definitely! Sometimes by choice, often also by circumstances."

 

Yes. One thing that absolutely amazes me about my students in China who are learning English is that some of them can write English extremely well, but at the same time their English speaking ability is dreadful. Amazing!

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Luxi
1 minute ago, NinjaTurtle said:

a person can be fluent in reading and writing but not in speaking and listening.

 

Definitely! Sometimes by choice, often also by circumstances. In my experience, without spending considerable time immersed in a Chinese-speaking environment  it is very difficult (impossible even) to achieve or maintain speaking fluency. Even one's mother tongue can become un-fluent outside a favourable environment.

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mungouk

Guys, you're disagreeing with the established definition of "fluency". 

 

Fluency is about production by definition.

 

If you want to apply the layman's definition of fluency to reading then go for it, but you won't change the world.

 

 

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