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Showing content with the highest reputation since 04/18/2019 in all areas

  1. 4 points
    As promised, here is the second installment of my blog following the second term of teaching in a one year Masters program in interpreting and translation at Bath University in the UK. The structure and content of teaching in the second term has been very different to the first term, so if you are interested in comparing, please take a look at my first blog entry. The second term put A LOT more emphasis on live interpreting practice, pressure has been a lot higher, and the requirements for specialized vocabulary has been noticeably greater than the first term. I will break down the different classes over a few blog entries, in the hope its more palatable for reading. I will assess my own performance vs my Chinese classmates, as well as reflect on Chinese-English interpreting from a native English speakers perspective whenever it might be useful. Firstly I’ll start with Simultaneous Interpreting. Simultaneous Interpreting and using Glossaries So, our SI (Simultaneous Interpreting) class has been every Monday at 11:15. The course works both directions C-E and E-C, and we have alternated direction from week to week. We mostly work inside professional interpreting booths for the first hour, doing live interpreting of videos that vary from 10 mins in length to half an hour using headphones and microphones that record live. The second hour is largely dedicated to feedback and guidance for improvement. We are told the broad topic of the class via email around Thursday the week before, for example, “next weeks SI will be on ‘fracking’” and that’s it. We are then expected to prepare a glossary of specialized terms, usually that can fit on one A4 page, which we can then bring to class and place next to our microphones as we interpret, for reference. The point of this is not to actually collect huge lists of words (although this inevitably happens), but rather, read widely and educate ourselves on different subjects in both English and Chinese, as well as learn how to ‘prep’ for real life interpreting jobs. Many students seemed to have no issue with this set up, as many already have rich active vocabularies and encyclopedic knowledge. (side note: Seriously, I have never met such widely read people in my life. And that really goes for every single one of my classmates; they can talk through macro and microeconomics with ease, go to a doctors ward and discuss the treatment regimen for obscure diseases, explain in depth how neural networking is changing media reporting; all in both Chinese AND English. Quite amazing and very motivating for study). One downside of this set up for me has been that I have spent almost all my free time building glossaries and learning vocabulary, whereas my classmates have had time to practice the actual skill of interpreting in out-of-class hours. That being said, if I had known this before starting the course I probably would have been scared away and never even started. It is an inevitability for many of us coming from a background of only starting learning Chinese at university, there is simply not enough time to consolidate the vast amounts of knowledge required for professional level interpreting. Getting back on topic: everyone seemed to have their own method to putting together specialized glossaries, for SI classes some even came with entire prepared folders with concise glossaries on pretty much every entry to an encyclopedia (I later learnt that in some cases these glossaries had already been used for many years and were very familiar to their users). I have spent the better part of every week this year picking out key terminology for Monday’s SI class (and Thursday’s Consecutive Interpreting class), that is, terms that would require thinking time over and above the constraints of simultaneous interpreting. The reaction time to a speaker usually needs to be kept within 2 seconds; if terminology comes up that is not in your active vocabulary, it will almost certainly stretch you to around 5-10 seconds before you get it out in the target language, by which time the entire thread of the speakers argument has been missed. Evidently, glossaries are incredibly important to successful simultaneous interpreting. In almost all cases I short-term memorised every item on each glossary; heres a look at my anki: Vocabulary requirements In the last 3 months alone I have accumulated 1610 specialised vocabulary terms in my anki. This in fact EXCLUDES my cards from Supermemo (another well-know srs system which I both love and hate at the same time) which has another 2733 cards added since early March (see attached images). I use Supermemo for reading, so many of these cards aren’t vocabulary items, but clozed passages from Wikipedia/academic articles. Nonetheless, the mental strain for getting up to the standard required for SI is frankly unhealthy: it is simply not doable in the time frame that the course allows. Many of my classmates have already taken courses in interpreting prior to this course, and so managed to keep up with the pace, but lets just say there were tears in class from some a number of times. Left: Anki deck specifically for interpreting glossaries. Right: excel files for glossaries Regarding the workload and how I coped. I estimate (stressing estimate, based on a pleco deck I have added to over the last five years to track my vocab progress) my passive vocabulary is now around 15-20,000, but active is to be honest probably only around 10-15,000 (again, hard to really know). Which is certainly not good enough to do professional interpreting with. For anyone considering doing a course like this, you should know that you are aiming for ‘near-native’ level size of active vocabulary, what I have been working with seemed like an impressive vocabulary size when I started the course, but now it seems laughable. Some of my classmates are far better read than me in English, 30k+ I reckon. a deck I have added any word I think 'useful' to over the years. I review these words in anki. an example of what my supermemo decks for reading Chinese/English articles looks like. As you can see, the requirements for vocabulary appear very scary. That being said, to someone that has learnt Chinese or English seriously for 10+ years, this is quite reasonable and achievable. I first went to China in 2008, and didn’t properly start learning until 2013/14, so I still have many years to go! I’m sure some of the longer-standing members of these forums must be nodding with a wry smile right now - been there done that! That’s it for now, next entry I’ll go through my thoughts on the CI class. Sorry if this is a bit of a ramble, very hard to try and structure all that has happened over the last few months.
  2. 1 point
    If you're looking for information about books or movies I would recommend to search on Douban.
  3. 1 point
    Early spring in Kunming is glorious. The cherry blossoms open in February; by the end of the month the peach blossoms are everywhere too. Soon the golden fields of rapeseed flowers turn the karst hills of the outskirts into a stepped yellow sea; the crabapple orchards start releasing their flowers when gusts of spring wind blows, covering nearby roads with a pink and white snowstorm. (Please click the photos to enlarge them.) Now it’s mid-spring; Tomb Sweeping Festival 清明节 has passed. It hasn’t rained here since before the start of the month, today being Wednesday the 17th of April. This means it’s great for doing outside activities, riding my bike, walking in the park. But it also means the internal humors that TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) prattles on so much about are holding my metabolism for ransom. I’m told one ignores these factors at one’s peril. It’s real easy to get sick just now; it's a treacherous time. 风热感冒 in particular looms large on the horizon. Skin gets itchy and dry. That’s easy to see. Nose gets crusty inside; in every block of sidewalk when I’m on foot, I meet people with tissue rolled up and sticking out from one nostril or other in response to a nosebleed. Scratchy throat, slight hacking cough, nothing productive. What’s going on deep inside is not quite as obvious. TCM deals with imbalance between heat and cold, stagnation of Qi 气; all sorts of other oddities like wind in the thymus or spleen. Incomprehensible stuff. Took me about ten years of living here to begin taking heed to this strange and very foreign business, based on principles that are at best difficult to grasp. Furthermore, these beliefs are not well proven by the western scientific method at whose alter I burned incense throughout a long working life. (Medical practice for 35 years; now retired.) Chinese people, average garden-variety Chinese people, young and old, believe in the notion of food as medicine. Food as curative medicine, to take when you’re sick and trying to get better, and preventive medicine to take in order to stay healthy. You can talk about this subject with cab drivers, tailors, waitresses and cops; you can talk about it with the tousled guy who sells cigarettes and booze 烟酒 at that stall on the corner, or the the uniformed chap who lifts and lowers the gate at the parking lot in front of that newish mid-range hotel in the next block. What they tell you when queried may differ in certain details, often going back to what their mothers taught them when small, but every single person you talk to will have something to say; nobody will just draw a blank and look at you like you are nuts. I grew up in South Texas, the son of educated but working-class parents. My personal deck of early memories contains quite a few do’s and don’ts, but outside of “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” and an abiding belief in the restorative powers of chicken soup when fighting a cold, I really cannot remember much in the way of “food as medicine” hand-me-down lore or parental advice. Not to say that such advice is not to be had in the west. But I’d say it’s not exactly mainstream, at least not to the extent that it is here in China. I can remember reading paper-bound books as a teen, bought for a dollar, about the powers of apple cider vinegar or the amazing abilities of natural honey. What else? Not much. Hmm, that cannot be right. Wait, let me think harder. When my memory strays much beyond those narrow confines, I dredge up recollections of that middle-aged lady with the flowing gray hair and the tie-died dress at the health food store urging me to buy this or that expensive herbal supplement instead of just a quick, easy bottle of “One-A-Day” multivitamins. If you get to know her, it won’t be long before she wants to refer you to her iridologist to have your irises “read.” She may even give you a hot tip about that new “colonic therapist” who just started business out on the north edge of town. Not to say that what she has to offer is wrong; but it is mostly “fringe” stuff, not well-accepted or mainstream. In China, however, by contrast, health maintenance advice based on eating right is completely mainstream. You don’t have to be a quasi-fanatical macrobiotic gluten-free vegan to have some degree of knowledge about what to eat and when in order to avoid various internal imbalances that most of us don’t even know about, let alone care about. I was in that last camp, not knowing and not caring, until very recently. I still don’t know much but have decided to at least start listening to the “folk wisdom” of some of my friends and neighbors about a few of the basics. My lady friend from the deep south of Honghe 红河州, my coach at the gym, who hails from Zhaotong 昭通, the smart young guy from whom I buy tea (from somewhere west of Dali, near Baoshan 宝山) the old lady who cleans my house once a week (native of Kunming back before so many streets were paved) and the man who parks cars at my apartment complex (originally from Chongqing) have all chewed my ear about this within the last few days. They did it out of concern from someone they perceive as at risk by virtue of being clueless and foreign. Surprisingly, they all said the same thing, as though they had been raised and rehearsed by the same mother: The weather now is warm, dry and windy. In order not to get sick I need to drink more liquids, eat more vegetables, especially green leafy ones, plus consume lots of raw fruit. It's OK to have meat, but it needs to take a back seat to the plant-based items in my diet, at least for the time being. The Chinese internet is full of more specific advice on how to go about this, how to carry it out. I cannot give you a truly well-informed opinion about which bits of this doctrine are right and which bits are wrong. But I can give a few ways to implement the simplest, most basic of these ideas in case you live in similar climate and seasonal circumstances. Having finally reached the end of this long and perhaps controversial intro, today I would like to simply show you one easy way to begin at the beginning. Learn about a “cooling” beverage that you can whip up at home. It quells the internal fires of late spring. As a bonus, it tastes good. You already know that Yunnan is in love with mint 薄荷 so it should come as no surprise to meet it again here. I've previously shown you how to prepare it as a soup and as a salad and as an ingredient in a stir fry. Today it stars in a beverage. I bought this handful of fresh mint at the neighborhood wet market this morning for 1 Yuan. Not all the vendors will part with such a small amount. They tell me their margin is slim and they don't want to bother weighing and bagging such a tiny sale. In the grocery store down the street it is weighed out and pre-bundled in bunches that cost 2.5 Yuan each. Sometimes I must get more than I want, but generally find some way to use the remainder. Wash it and pick out any bruised stems or discolored leaves. I typically wash it in three changes of tap water in a large basin. If that runs clear, then I stop. If not, I wash it some more. Put a quart of water in a pot and set it over high heat so it will come to a boil without wasting too much time. When you see a healthy rolling boil, put in the mint, leaves, stems and all. Don't stir it. Just let the pot return to a boil and then shut off the flame. Leave the mint alone for the next hour. Turn your attention to the citrus. Kunming has an abundance of these small limes 请柠檬。They are juicy and cheap whereas yellow lemons 黄柠檬 are expensive and often not very nice. The decision is easy: go with the green ones and don't look back. I squeeze five or six of them into a bowl. Then I cut the remains into quarters. Set them aside. After about 30 minutes, the mint water in the pot begins taking on a rich emerald color. Add the juice and the rinds into the pot. The water will still be hot enough to extract all the flavor from the solids. Don't worry about the seeds; you will strain them out later. No need to boil it again. Let it stand undisturbed for another 30 minutes, making a total time in the pot of one hour. If you put in the limes too early, oils come out of the peel that can make the resulting brew bitter. While the mint and limes are steeping 浸泡, get started brewing some tea 泡茶。I usually go for 红茶 red tea (called "black tea" in the west) but it's fine to use green tea if you prefer. Once or twice I've even used Pu'er tea 普洱茶。It's a matter of your personal taste preference. In fact, real tea leaves are not essential to this concoction at all. You can make it with just mint and lemon alone. Nevertheless, what I generally do is just put the tea in a bowl and ladle some hot water out of the pot. It's still got enough heat to work if you are generous with the leaf and let the tea steep for 5 or 10 minutes. I brew two or three bowls like this. pouring the liquid back into the pot each time. Now strain the contents of the pot: mint and limes. Hand squeeze the small lime quarters to be sure you have gotten all their flavor. Sweeten the resulting tea after it's strained. I use wild honey from Simao 思茅 (the famous city in Yunnan which has currently been renamed as Pu'er City 普洱市。) A generous tablespoon of this per quart of brew is just right for me, but you could use more or less. If you don't have access to good natural honey, don't despair. I've seen recipes that use rock sugar 冰糖 instead, as well as ones which use granulated sugar 白砂糖。If using the latter, I think it works best to turn it into simple syrup first. Boil one part sugar with one part water until all the granules dissolve. This way you wind up with a drink that is equally sweet all through instead of having sugar settle out at the bottom of the pitcher or glass. Here's the end result. First pour on the left, second pour on the right. Notice that it gets a little cloudy as it stands. This might prevent the drink from ever achieving the top rung of fame at Starbucks, but I assure you it does not affect how it tastes in the slightest. It might be pushing my luck to try to tell you how to drink it. After all we are all consenting adults here. Nonetheless, I will say that Chinese traditionally don’t drink this beverage ice cold. It would be unusual to see a local person serve it in a tall glass over ice. The old folks 老头 of my acquaintance will serve it and drink it 常温 chang wen, which means a cool room temperature, a few degrees below lukewarm. Bear in mind that China is the land of "beer off a shelf" instead of "beer out of the ice chest." You might have been surprised and even upset when you first ordered a “cold one” in a restaurant with a meal. Regretted ever getting onto the airplane. "Good heavens, I've wound up in a country that doesn't know beer is supposed to be cold." But by now I'm sure you are used to it even though it might have been a rocky transition. Personally, I store this drink in the fridge in a carafe and drink it from a glass, but without ice. That’s cool or liang 凉, cold enough to be pleasant without shocking the system. It’s typical to sip it slow, not quaff it off all in two or three big gulps. That is supposed to be better for the digestion. But since you are most likely equipped with a western stomach instead of a Chinese version, I will leave that step completely to your discretion. However you make it, however you drink it, this beverage is a winner, even apart from its medicinal qualities. Try it and see what you think. 薄荷柠檬茶。
  4. 1 point
    Earlier this week I finished reading the novella 《一个女剧院的生活》 by 沈从文. 《一个女剧院的生活》 is a story about several men of different ages and stations in life all vying for the love of a beautiful and talented young actress. While the men contend for her love, the actress, 萝, rejects their advances. The opening chapters of the novella establish a love triangle, which later turns into a love quadrilateral, which later turns into a love pentagon. Much of the novella consists of drawn out conversations about love in the abstract; of men having trying to convince 萝 to be with them; and of 萝 criticizing the men’s behavior and mannerisms and words. Here is an example of one such conversation. The conversation is between 萝 and her uncle(舅父), who criticizes 萝 for her capricious treatment toward one her suitors. While 沈从文 is a talented storyteller, I didn’t much like this novella. I found the story boring and didn’t care about its characters. I also found the dialogue tiresome. In over half the conversations in this story, characters lecture each other, chastise each other, and engage in overlong detached disputations on love and freedom. That is not what people in love do. 沈从文 made his female lead character unlikeable. 萝 has this tremendous power to make any man around her want to marry her. But rather than be gracious, wise, or even shrewd, 萝 is haughty, hectoring any man who would presume to compete for her affections. In the real world, this kind of behavior would lead to gossip, resentment, and reputational damage. In 《一个女剧院的生活》, no one seems bothered by her badgering. The men in this novella don’t come off much better than 萝. They are desperate, neurotic, feckless, vain. This story would be more believable if it had contained a strong supporting female character. There are a female student actress and an 阿姨 (who works for 舅父), but these characters don’t have much to say. Also, the dialogue is sometimes cheesy. An example: Yech. At 61,154 characters, this novella is the longest work I have completed so far this year. The language wasn’t too hard and should be accessible to any advanced Chinese-language learner. (The quotes above are fairly representative, difficulty-wise.) 《一个女剧院的生活》 is the third work of 沈从文’s I have read. The first was his short story 《牛》, which I loved. The second was the short story collection 《虎雏》, which was pretty good. My reading list contains many other works by 沈从文, including his classic novels. I plan to read some other authors, then come back to him. Link to 沈从文’s 《一个女剧院的生活》: https://m.ixdzs.com/d/116894 Some statistics: Characters read this year: 211,905 Characters left to read this year: 788,095 Percent of goal completed: 21.2% List of things read: 《三八节有感》by 丁玲 (2,370 characters) 《我在霞村的时候》by 丁玲 (10,754 characters) 《在延安文艺座谈会上的讲话》by 毛泽东 (18,276 characters) 《自杀日记》by 丁玲 (4,567 characters) 《我没有自己的名字》by 余华 (8,416 characters) 《手》by 萧红 (7,477 characters) 《牛》by 沈从文 (8,097 characters) 《彭德怀速写》by 丁玲 (693 characters) 《我怎样飞向了自由的天地》by 丁玲 (2,176 characters) 《IBM Cloud文档:Personality Insights》 by IBM (25,098 characters) 《夜》by 丁玲 (4,218 characters) 《虎雏》by 沈从文 (46,945 characters) 《在巴黎大戏院》 by 施蛰存 (6,181 characters) 《分析Sonny Stitt即兴与演奏特点——以专辑《Only the Blues》中曲目 《Blues for Bags》为例》 (5,483 characters) 《一个女剧院的生活》 by 沈从文 (61,154 characters)
  5. 1 point
  6. 1 point
    I just wanted to chime in and say good job with the product. The more resources there are the better! I don't understand why there's so much much flak when you're just announcing your product. You've not once said it's the only way to successfully learn Chinese, but it's another method people can use to learn. I've just subscribed to the YouTube channel and really enjoy the videos. It's great to have some good video production for a change. My feedback regarding the product is 1. the price and 2. the need to submit card details to get the free trial. I'd be more than willing to try if there was say a 7 day free trial without needing to submit card details, then it just expired after 7 days. If I was interested, I could then pay for the subscription. Regarding the price, with websites like Lynda.com being just £15 a month which has hundreds of different courses, it tough to spend $30 a month on just a Chinese course. I know there's the biannual option, but personally I don't purchase long subscriptions until I've used the product a while. Nonetheless, keep up the work. Take some of the comments with a pinch of salt, as some people seem to spend much more time criticising studying techniques than actually studying themselves.
  7. 1 point
    This probably isn't as much use as it would have been ten years ago, but may still be useful. Pressreader.com has 265 simplified Chinese publications and 50 traditional Chinese ones. There are some known names in there - Sanlian Shenghuo, October, Yanhuang Chunqiu, I think I saw Caijing, plus lots of specialist stuff - martial arts, cats, angling. Some local stuff (Wuhan: The Magazine!) There are also the 'digest' type magazines which provide lots of short fairly straightforward readings, 今日文摘 for example. Pressreader isn't free, but you may well have free access already through a university or library login - I get it via my local library.
  8. 1 point
    Hi everyone, Finally, finally, finally!!! The long wait is over. I finally got my CSC admit notice today, at NUAA. Yes, it's really worth the wait. I am shaking with joy. As I have received such good news, I know there's great news for those who are still waiting. This calls for celebration......YAAYYY!!!
  9. 1 point
    Since we are coming to the end of the Spring semester here at Tianjin University, I'd like to do a write-up/review. I will share my thoughts and answer some questions that I feel you can't really find on the web. This is coming from the perspective of a self-financed student taking a semester of Chinese. Application process When I first applied as a language student I was still in the US, they sent me the application forms through email and we went back and forth a couple times. The process wasn't particularly hard, they required basic application forms, a copy of my passport and visa. At the time I had a tourist visa and they told me it was no problem getting it changed to a six month F visa once I was on campus. The tuition and fees were later taken care of on campus paid in cash, their website is very old and archaic and I am sure can't handle payments even though it looks like at one point they did use the website for registration fees. Course and Funding I was a Chinese language student for the Spring semester of 2013. The tuition for one semester of Chinese is 6500 rmb, there is also a 400 rmb registration fee as well as an additional 300 rmb fee for insurance. Also textbooks, which are roughly 200 rmb altogether. Arrival and Registration Getting to the university is no problem, every taxi driver should know where the university is located. The only problem is taxi drivers may be reluctant to take you there since the area near the school seems to have a lot traffic. I got to the city by bus and was initially bombarded with many drivers wanting to take me places until I put them off by telling them I want to go to Tianjin University because of all the traffic. Tell the driver to take you to Tianjin University's east gate (天津大学东门) and the dormitory you will be staying at as well as the international school's office is not too far off. There are two or three main dorms for foreigners. At the west there is liu yuan (留园) where rooms are shared and on the east there is another - you yuan (友园) where rooms are one per person. There is also another smaller building – Zhuan jia lou (专家楼). Liu yuan and Zhuan jia lou are primarily for scholarship students and are shared rooms, the international school's office is located in Liu yuan. You yuan is for self-financed students and are single rooms, the rooms are by a large majority rented by South Korean students and fill up very quickly, I called weeks in advance before the semester started to save myself a spot and was lucky enough that the person working at the time was willing to reserve me a spot. There are one or two days dedicated to just registering for classes and getting everything sorted out before classes which is nice. You get a piece of paper on the day of the registration and have a checklist of stations to visit, basic registration, visa, tuition, insurance, and finally placement tests. The tuition and all fees has to be paid in cash and credit card is not accepted. The initial placement test is you just simply talking with a teacher and introducing yourself, they can quickly judge what kind of Chinese level you are at and then next week you take a written test. They put me in a test where we took a mock HSK5 test, and from those test results we get put into a class. Accommodation I stayed in you yuan which was 50 rmb per day, rent is paid during the beginning of the month and is usually 1500 per month, depending on how many days the month had. You yuan has six floors and are all single rooms with classrooms as well on each floor. Each room has a TV, shower, wired internet, air conditioner, a bathroom, a sink, a closet, a desk for studying, and a bed. You yuan doesn't have a canteen nearby like Liu yuan, so that's a drag but there is a small lobby on the first floor where snacks and drinks are sold, but more expensive than you would normally pay, a soft drink is 5 rmb where it is 3 rmb at the small supermarket nearby. There is a laundry room on the first floor that requires you to buy a magnetic key to activate the washing machine which is about 40 rmb, it gives you 10 credits and using the washing machine uses 1 credit and the dryer uses 2, there is only one dryer but many washing machines. There are no curfews that I know of, but guests are only allowed to come in your room from 4pm till 10pm during weekdays and 9am till 10pm on weekends. Wired Internet will cost you 85 rmb a month, you have to use prepaid cards and the speed is not that great, but better than nothing. Classes, Classrooms and Teachers Classes here are split from level A to G, A being beginner and G being the most advanced. I was placed in class E, and feel that they placed me very appropriately, the material wasn't too hard but also not way above my head. There are approximately 15 students per class and the grand majority were from South Korea, there are also some people from Thailand, North Korea, Russia, and Indonesia, but the largest amount of students are from South Korea. There are 4 classes, 精读,阅读,听力,口语。Classes are held Monday through Friday from 8:30am till 12:00pm. You will have two classes per day which will rotate depending on which day it is. I have no complaints about the teachers whom all seemed to care about the students, I feel my Chinese has improved tremendously, hearing the teacher give lecture, interacting with your classmates and becoming friends, and making lots of mistakes while learning is the key to success. There are two exams, a midterm and final and homework is given out regularly. If you want to take additional classes there are free classes in the afternoon such as calligraphy, HSK classes, business Chinese and more. Campus and Environment The campus is pretty convenient, most of your everyday life needs can be taken care of here. There are plenty of supermarkets, ATMs, and restaurants nearby. The school has canteens throughout the campus, though the foreigner's canteen in liu yuan is a bit more experience than the Chinese canteen. I feel Tianjin University is kind of in the middle of everything and if you need something it's not too far away. There is a subway, plenty of buses, and taxis to get you to just about anywhere. I still haven't really explored the city as much as I want to, but definitely will in the near future. There are always many events held on campus to meet many foreigners as well as Chinese if you are looking. I have barely spoken a word of English here because I don't often meet other Americans or English speakers. I feel Tianjin is a good place to study Chinese. Cost of Living and Budgeting I spend roughly 1500rmb a month besides rent, I tend to spend very little and eat at the canteen often. That's about it. I may have made some mistakes typing on my phone and would love to answer more questions. I am going to post pictures of my dorm next time I get on a computer. Before I first came to Tianjin University I barely knew anything because of how little information there seems to be on the internet about the student life here. Through the helpful words of Tianjin42 and others on this forum I have come to understand a lot more. I want to help anyone else that has questions.
  10. 1 point
    I have gone ahead and replied to my own question since no one has answered. DISCLAIMER: This is my first time at IUP and I am only here for the summer, so this post only refers to the current situation at IUP (summer 2007). All views expressed are my own. The IUP placement test has a written section as well as a 15 minute interview in Chinese. The interview is to determine to determine what problems the person has with spoken Chinese and determine level of fluency (do the words flow out effortlessly? does the person speak in words, or in complete sentences, or in coherent paragraphs linked with conjunction, etc?). The interview is also used to find out personal and academic interests and look into personal background and extent of formal education in Chinese. There are no existential question, but the question of why/for what purpose are you studying Chinese can be difficult enough. The questions they ask can sometimes be very basic. I think this means that they have not read people's applications, as they are dealt with by Berkeley in the US and not in China. The written section of the IUP placement test takes 2 hours. There are 3 major sections that are further divided into subsections: listening comprehension, grammar and vocabulary, and reading comprehension. In the listening section there is no repetition and things are said pretty quickly. The whole test is worth 220 points, though I will not go into the points breakdown of each section. The test is very grueling because there are so many questions that it is sometime difficult to complete the whole test. SCORES AND PLACEMENT: For summer 2007 entrance scores seemed to range from about 30% to 75%. I do not know what the cutoff points are for placement into each sublevel of the program. The interview is very important in determining one's main textbook. If one can speak somewhat in paragraphs one is placed in Academic Topics in Chinese or above. This is because Academic Topics marks the beginning of learning Chinese usage that is limited solely to writing. These courses thus do not have as much benefit to one's speaking ability. Also, students may be placed in listening courses that are up to two sublevels higher or lower than their main textbook course. I have many classmates whose listening class is in some level of intermediate while their main textbook class is in some level of intermediate. No ones is entirely sure how the sublevels within intermediate and advanced translate into different levels in university. Course placement is also influenced by what courses are being offered, students' interests, and each teacher's schedule. The guaranteed 3 to 1 student teacher ratio makes it difficult for one to change to another group class (as IUP tries to maintain teacher efficiency by making classes effectively either 3 or 1 student). For example, I have an academic interest in business. I was placed in a supplementary group newspaper course, though I have already taken one elsewhere, because there were not enough students interested in business Chinese (one is in private tutorial for the basic book, another in tutorial for self selected materials on Chinese stock market) and I did not pressure them to put me in a tutorial. LISTENING COMPREHENSION: TONE DISTINCTION: sets of four syllables are given one must write the tone of each syllable). TONE AND SYLLABLE DISTINCTION: for each question 3 or was it 4? sets of two syllables are read out and one chooses which two sets are the same. They may differ in tone or may use easily confusable sounds, perhaps to test for dialect interference. SINGLE SENTENCE, DIALOGUE, AND STORY COMPREHENSION: The dialogues and stories are several sentences long and contain a lot of extraneous information. The questions are about some basic detail of what one has just heard.The answer choices are given in the exam booklet as well as read out. Some answer choices are very close to each other, and some are based on a sometimes ambiguous interpretation of the situation. GRAMMAR AND VOCABULARY: BASIC GRAMMAR: One must indicate into which position in a given sentence (indicated by a blank) the given conjunction, particle or other grammar feature should be placed. SENTENCE STRUCTURE: One is given sentences that apparently have errors (though some may already be correct) and one rewrites a corrected version of the sentence. No indication is given to the kind or extent of correction expected, so it is sometimes hard to figure out what one must do. VOCABULARY: There are very many vocabulary items given (I seem to remember 100-150 but I have forgotten already). One must choose from a list of four choices, a term with equivalent meaning. Here again there is some difficulty as sometimes rather similar synonyms are given, and many are not all that common. CHENGYU: I believe there were 5 or 10 chengyu items. One has to choose out of a list of four which definition or chengyu is equivalent in meaning to the chengyu given. The chengyu seemed rather difficult and seemed to be rather sloppily selected (I have no idea what criteria were used for selection). READING COMPREHENSION: There are five reading selections of progressive difficulty, each with five four choice multiple choice interpretive questions. The first selection is a story. The next three are more academic in nature and present complex ideas or views on the topics. Again some of the answer choices are ambiguous, but others are in themselves difficult to understand. The fifth section is in classical Chinese but the answer choices are in modern Chinese. If their Chinese is otherwise strong, students who get two or more of the classical questions right are eligible to take classical Chinese.
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