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Weyland

The "LOST" HSK Vocab (pre-2010 HSK Vocab) [Pleco Flashcards]

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Weyland

People often begrudge the fact how the Old HSK (pre-2010) was more difficult, and thus better, than the contemporary one.So, I went out of my way of creating a Pleco Flashcard list of all the vocabulary that was omitted from the current HSK. Here you go;  The LOST HSK Vocab.txt

There are a total of 4,150 original cards, with a total of 4,189 cards. There are 39 card copies due to how some of these are grammar entries such as "连...都...", which got condensed to just "连” which I chose to keep in there. The cards are divided over 4 categories, where the number at the end represent the amount of cards and percentage omitted from the current HSK;

 

  1. Basic (1033 - 782 = 251 cards lost / shrank by 24.3%)
  2. Elementary ( 2019 - 1309 = 710 cards lost / shrank by 35.2%)
  3. Intermediary (2205 - 1118 = 1087 cards lost / shrank by 49.3%)
  4. Advanced (3583 - 1442 = 2141 cards lost / shrank by 59.8%)


So, in total the amount of cards shrank by 47.4%. That being said we did get a collection of 506 new vocab in the current HSK. Though, if you add on the expanded vocabulary of the BLCUP HSK6 materials, of which I made a flashcard collection here, that number goes up to 739 vocab specific to the new HSK. 

A lot of the words in the OLD vocabulary that got omitted are nouns, and especially in the Basic /Elementary sections most of this vocabulary would be covered by lesson material or be so prevalent that it'd be almost impossible to miss out on. 

 

For the entire vocabulary, please visit this forum post, or this Wikipedia entry


EDIT: While I was writing this I stumbled upon a blog. , where everything mentioned above is portrayed and explained in more extensive/religious detail. IF you want you dive down the rabbit hole then give it a read. It's quite interesting.

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mungouk
On 12/7/2019 at 3:26 PM, Weyland said:

People often begrudge the fact how the Old HSK (pre-2010) was more difficult, and thus better, than the contemporary one.

 

OK, I don't have time just now to address this fully, but how was it "better"?

As a teacher (not of Chinese, of course) for more than 25 years, I am usually very suspicious of the claims of assessments and tests. 

 

But as a Chinese learner, I'm also curious about the graphs on that blog which appear to show (if I understand them correctly) that HSK levels 5-6 include a lot of very uncommon vocabulary. As if learning those words makes you a better communicator. How useful really are those "advanced" words?

 

To put it another way: for those who've studied HSK 5-6, is it really useful in terms of living your daily life in a Chinese-speaking country?

 

When I look at the old HSK list I see words like 沙土 (sandy soil) which I can't ever imagine using in my life. So I do wonder if we can argue against "modernisation" of the word list. 

 

 

 

 

 

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imron
8 hours ago, mungouk said:

OK, I don't have time just now to address this fully, but how was it "better"?

New HSK stops at upper intermediate.

 

Old HSK advanced actually was advanced.

 

So it was 'better' in that it went further and required a higher level in order to pass the upper levels.

 

It still had its flaws (it didn't really test speaking), but it was more thorough.

 

8 hours ago, mungouk said:

When I look at the old HSK list I see words like 沙土 (sandy soil) which I can't ever imagine using in my life.

Words show up in unexpected places.  You'll probably be seeing this word everywhere for the next few weeks (only half joking here).

 

At some point though, if you're preparing an advanced level test you're going to be reaching in order to produce relevant vocab.  The current HSK has 5,000 words at the top level, the old one almost 9,000.  Almost every word from 5,000 to 9,000 will be low frequency, but generally speaking a 9,000 word vocabulary will provide significantly better comprehension of texts than a 5,000 word vocab (I say comprehension of texts, because that's really what the HSK is testing with those vocabs).

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PerpetualChange
10 hours ago, mungouk said:

 

When I look at the old HSK list I see words like 沙土 (sandy soil) which I can't ever imagine using in my life. So I do wonder if we can argue against "modernisation" of the word list. 

 

Until you start diving into authentic Chinese materials you don't really know how much these kind of words show up. How would you feel about being HSK5-6 if you picked up a children's novel and had to look it up? 

  • Good question! 1

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mungouk

Sure.

 

But if you're going to learn lots of low-frequency words, it would be more useful to learn those relevant to your own life, work, etc than a random list chosen according to arbitrary statistics though.

 

Wouldn't work for an external test, but it would help a lot more with communication.

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imron
1 hour ago, mungouk said:

it would be more useful to learn those relevant to your own life, work, etc than a random list chosen according to arbitrary statistics though.

I couldn't agree more!  From at least intermediate (and probably earlier) the relative frequencies of words will depend a lot on the things you are reading and therefore learning from wordlists is one of the most ineffective ways to learn new vocabulary.

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Weyland
19 hours ago, mungouk said:

When I look at the old HSK list I see words like 沙土 (sandy soil) which I can't ever imagine using in my life.

   What? You've never had deep discussions about the Loess Plateau and soil composition? Man, you haven't lived. /s

 

8 hours ago, PerpetualChange said:

How would you feel about being HSK5-6 if you picked up a children's novel and had to look it up? 

That hits way too close to home, haha. Though when it comes to verbs it isn't that uncommon, for example "沁". Or the names of animals/dinosaurs.

 

11 hours ago, imron said:

but generally speaking a 9,000 word vocabulary will provide significantly better comprehension of texts than a 5,000 word vocab

 

8 hours ago, mungouk said:

it would be more useful to learn those relevant to your own life, work, etc


I don't mind the broad scope of the word lists. The perfect solution would be a brief introduction to topics, with relevant vocabulary... Or you know... better focus on grammar, writing, logic etc...

In the end you all have to admit that the jump from HSK to "native" materials makes you launch from a pretty shaky foundation.

 

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imron
34 minutes ago, Weyland said:

In the end you all have to admit that the jump from HSK to "native" materials makes you launch from a pretty shaky foundation.

The jump to native materials is always going to be difficult no matter when you make it because there are skills and stamina required for reading native content that you can only build up by reading native content.

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mungouk

Thanks guys for your considered opinions!  Much appreciated.

 

I guess I'm thinking out loud here and trying to decide my next steps. I'm aiming to take HSK 4 early next year, but given the potential pain of having to learn 1000+ new words of relatively low frequency for HSK 5, I'm trying to work out if it's going to be worth it for me.

 

And if not, then what I should be doing with my Chinese teacher, if anything. She's brilliant, I like her a lot, but I'm beginning to wonder if I should shift strategies and work more on reading/watching "native" material and improving my pronunciation. I want to be able to have proper conversations in daily life, and I'm getting tired of having to say to a 美团外卖 driver who phones me up: “不好意思, 我的中文不太好". 

 

I've been learning for about 2.5 years and living in China for about 7 months. I hope to be here for a few more years yet. 

 

Related but different question: What makes you guys want to study HSK 5 or 6 and beyond?  Is HSK certification important for job, study, visa applications or is it rather the prestige (for want of a better word) or satisfaction of proving you can do it?  Neither of which I would refute btw.
 

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Weyland
13 minutes ago, mungouk said:

I'm aiming to take HSK 4 early next year, but given the potential pain of having to learn 1000+ new words of relatively low frequency for HSK 5, I'm trying to work out if it's going to be worth it for me.


If you're already wondering whether HSK5 will be worth it to you... then, forgive me, maybe you should just stick to having someone do all the talking for you. Words like neck, glass, playground, product, to quarrel, and the like aren't what you might call "low frequency".

 

18 minutes ago, mungouk said:

What makes you guys want to study HSK 5 or 6 and beyond?  Is HSK certification important for job, study, visa applications or is it rather the prestige (for want of a better word) or satisfaction of proving you can do it?


Personally, and let me make myself clear in saying that I don't belittle people for just wanting to get the base essentials in a language; I think a language is there solely for communication. I don't care about ancient Chinese, nor do I care about calligraphy. I study Chinese because I have Chinese people I want to talk to about topics that go further than kindergarten-grade. For example; people rarely use ”粗糙“ in their day to day lives (from HSK5), which translates to rough, whether it be as a material or to describe a situation/way of doing things. Still, it's a word I've used quite often due to having had surgery and the rough lining around my tongue is driving me crazy. It's a word I could do without, but then I'd have to use 10 words to describe one.

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mungouk

Thanks @Weyland, this is exactly the kind of advice I was looking for.

 

Also useful to hear @imron say that HSK5-6 is really only upper intermediate, compared to the old test.

 

It's the exponential increase in vocab that's putting me off right now... plus the number of times my teacher has commented on grammar points that are so subtle (in the standard course books, even at level 4) that she thinks many native speakers wouldn't get them right. 

 

(To be fair I say this fairly often with my students who are learning English...)

 

 

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Weyland
19 minutes ago, mungouk said:

plus the number of times my teacher has commented on grammar points that are so subtle


Get a different teacher. Because HSK4 doesn't have "subtle" grammar points. If so; please lend be that book you're using. My Chinese grammar isn't to write home about, but that's because of self-imposed standards.

Ask them: "Do I sound native? Or do I sound foreign?" Because in the end subconsciously natives will always figure out that you're different. And you'll always be different, but you have to work towards making it be the "ingenious" kind of different. Not the foreign monkey kind of different.

 

 

22 minutes ago, mungouk said:

(To be fair I say this fairly often with my students who are learning English...)


Your students should get a different teacher. Hey, equality.

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imron
5 hours ago, mungouk said:

What makes you guys want to study HSK 5 or 6 and beyond?

I don't want to study HSK and have never taken the test.  At one point I was preparing to take the old HSK advanced but half way through that they brought in the new HSK and I lost interest.

 

As for 'beyond', to me, that's native material and there is plenty of interesting native content that makes this worthwhile.

 

4 hours ago, mungouk said:

Also useful to hear @imron say that HSK5-6 is really only upper intermediate,

Total official vocab up to HSK 6 is 5,000 words, which is about half of what you need for a good general working vocab.  I wrote about this in more detail here.

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matteo

I am now roughly at HSK5 level, and noticed the following:

 

1) only from very recently I have been able to start consuming a significant amount of native material (websites, TV series, anime, comic books - nothing that requires specialized knowledge). I found that, while a HSK4 foundation is in my opinion insufficient in allowing you to transition to "real world" stuff,  HSK5 is largely sufficient. The challenges for me shifted quite a bit: wth an HSK4 vocabulary I just couldn't understand because I didn't know half of the words in a sentence, doesn't matter how many times I listened. With an HSK5 vocabulary - I still don't understand most times - but it is largely a matter of speed. 

 

2) among the new words that I learn from native material which are too advanced for HSK5, comparatively few belong to HSK6. In my opinion, this is because the HSK6 is very academic in nature. That is to say, some of the words you will learn for HSK6 will not really help you in explaining a concept that you wouldn't be able to explain otherwise, but rather doing it so in a more "refined" way.  This is of course desirable but -in my view -not as necessary as having a good base for getting by in any situation. 

 

So in conclusion, I think there isn't really an alternative to studying at least to HSK5 if you want to achieve any degree of proficiency. 

Or in other words, whether you are a hairdresser or a university professor, you will need most of the HSK5 words in your everyday life. 

From there on however, I think the choice varies from person to person. Of course you can stick to the HSK if you find it convenient, but I think you already have all you need to move on to different (and more interesting) sources. 

You will probably end up covering most of the HSK 6 vocabulary in the end anyways, but in a more balanced way. 

 

 

 

 

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imron
1 hour ago, matteo said:

this is because the HSK6 is very academic in nature.

It's not because it's academic in nature, it's because it's general in nature.  It aims for breadth rather than depth and so contains a little bit of vocabulary from a broad range of topics and genres.

 

When you then read some piece of native content, that content is usually on a very specific or limited topic and genre.

 

Once you're beyond HSK4 the relative frequencies of words becomes highly dependent on the content that you are reading, which makes general word lists not the most suitable way to improve comprehension on specific topics.

 

1 hour ago, matteo said:

So in conclusion, I think there isn't really an alternative to studying at least to HSK5 if you want to achieve any degree of proficiency. 

Yes there is.  The alternative is just to study native content and pay no attention to the HSK (this is what I did).  Do this, and you'll eventually cover all the material in the HSK anyway.

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mungouk
13 hours ago, Weyland said:
13 hours ago, mungouk said:

my teacher has commented on grammar points that are so subtle


Get a different teacher. Because HSK4 doesn't have "subtle" grammar points. If so; please lend be that book you're using. My Chinese grammar isn't to write home about, but that's because of self-imposed standards.

 

OK, my bad wording. Should have said "differences in grammar points that are so subtle."

 

The HSK 4 book has a regular feature on A vs B: when you can use A, when you can use B, and when you can use either.  Some of them are extremely subtle, and this is what I was referring to when my teacher said many Chinese people couldn't explain the rules.

 

Not necessarily the best example, but e.g. when you can use 对于 and 关于:

 

1300519541_Screenshot2019-12-10at14_40_35.thumb.png.b7b4a5570fecc9a3a7b7aa6387c200a4.png

 

13 hours ago, Weyland said:
13 hours ago, mungouk said:

(To be fair I say this fairly often with my students who are learning English...)


Your students should get a different teacher. Hey, equality.

 

I'll assume that was humour.

 

Some examples of very common errors made by native speakers of English:

  • incorrect use of apostrophe (e.g. grocer's apostrophe)
  • their vs there
  • "should of" rather than "should have"
  • to vs too

There are loads of them. Pointing this out to English learners is only fair I think, and alerts them to the pitfalls of assuming everything they read or hear by a native speaker is going to be correct.

 

 

2 hours ago, imron said:

Once you're beyond HSK4 the relative frequencies of words becomes highly dependent on the content that you are reading, which makes general word lists not the most suitable way to improve comprehension on specific topics.

 

Right, this is as I suspected.  Thanks.

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jannesan

@mungouk

I am currently half way through the HSK 5 Standard Course textbook and the vocabulary so far is mostly useful for reading native material, especially more formal language as is used in news articles (e.g 以、便,非). So if you want to focus on reading and you like to follow a textbook that gives you a straightforward structure, I think it's worth to work through HSK 5. If conversational skill is more important, then I'd probably skip HSK 5-6 or at least put them off for a while and instead focus on conversation practice.

 

 

 

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mungouk
3 hours ago, jannesan said:

I am currently half way through the HSK 5 Standard Course textbook

 

How did you find it moving from level 4 to 5?  Did you have to make a change in tactics for learning the vocabulary, because there's so much more?

And how long (if you don't mind me asking) did it take you to go from 4 to 5?  By the time I take my HSK 4 it will have been 18-24 months since my HSK 3, I think.

 

The jump from HSK 3 to 4 feels big. Going from 4 to 5 seems huge.  Right now I'm not sure how people deal with that, especially if you can't study for a few hours every day.  (You know: Life, work, and all that other stuff that gets in the way...)

 

 

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jannesan
1 hour ago, mungouk said:

How did you find it moving from level 4 to 5?  Did you have to make a change in tactics for learning the vocabulary, because there's so much more?

 

I didn't really change anything in the approach, except that for HSK 4 I had pre studied the vocabulary much further than the next chapter. Now I am doing one chapter a week and I try to keep 2 chapters ahead with new words. I think it's maximum of 50 words per chapter, so if you do 10 new words per day you can always keep ahead, while at the same time also learning a few other words from other sources.

 

1 hour ago, mungouk said:

And how long (if you don't mind me asking) did it take you to go from 4 to 5?  By the time I take my HSK 4 it will have been 18-24 months since my HSK 3, I think.

 

I finished HSK 4 a year ago and then I took half a year break from textbooks, only focusing on conversation practice and reading graded readers. I started HSK 5 after summer break this year and currently sticking to one lesson per week. So it should take around 9 months to finish the textbook. I'll probably do a recap of some hard sentence structures and reread all dialogues afterwards.

 

But I think you shouldn't make it a priority to work through the HSK 5 book, while it's useful, it's probably better to dedicate a good chunk of time to just watch some easy TV shows and have more conversation practice.

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imron
4 hours ago, mungouk said:

The jump from HSK 3 to 4 feels big. Going from 4 to 5 seems huge.

The vocab lists double at each level.

 

HSK 3 is 300 new words

HSK 4 is 600 new words

HSK 5 is 1300 new words

HSK 6 is 2500 new words

 

And then to go from HSK 6 to a comfortable vocabulary for general reading (let's say of 10,000 words) it's 5,000 new words.

 

It can seem pretty daunting, but the key is just regular, consistent practice.  You don't need hours and hours a day, you just need a little bit of time, every day.  Going from 4 to 5 is 1,300 new words.  5 new words a day, every day = 1,300 words in ~8 months.  If 5 words a day is too many, then drop it down to 3.  3 new words a day, every day = 600 words in ~14 months, and both of those time estimates are less than the time you mention you'll have taken between 3 and 4.

 

The trick is to always be doing something every day, and then using time as a multiplier to make progress.

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