Facts About Chinese Language
Facts About Chinese Language
What is HSK?
Learning a language requires a lot of time and effort so it's only natural that you would rather like to have something to show for all of your work - in this case, a nice, shiny HSK certificate. The Hànyǔ Shuǐpíng Kǎoshì (a.k.a HSK, 汉语水平考试) is the only standardised Mandarin Chinese proficiency exam for foreign students, overseas Chinese and Chinese ethnic minorities. The six HSK testing levels correspond to the six levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEF) (see image). Structure Each exam includes a listening, reading and writing component. An oral exam (HSKK) is available but is taken separately and it not available as frequently as the written exam. The oral exam has only three levels. Date & Time The test takes place monthly at test locations across China and overseas. It is worth bearing in mind that at overseas locations while there are tests every month, not all levels are run every month. Character Requirements and Time per Level Exam Level I 150 words 40 minutes Level II 300 words 55 minutes Level III 600 words 90 minutes Level IV 1200 words 105 minutes Level V 2500 words 125 minutes Level VI 5000 words 140 minutes Test Registration Test registration for the written exam normally opens a month before the test date or two weeks before for the computer exam. Grading In the exam, each component has a maximum score of 100 points. Since in HSK 1 and 2 the writing component is not included so they only have a maximum score of 200 with 120 points required to pass. The higher levels have a maximum of 300 points with 180 points required to pass. There is no minimum amount of points required for each of the components as long as the sum is over 120 or 180 points respectively. Good luck everyone - if you have any questions, don't hesitate to get in touch!
Mandarin and Cantonese
In a previous card we looked at the debate between learning traditional characters and simplified characters. Today we're going to look at the differences between Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese. Mandarin Chinese is the official language of the PRC and of Taiwan and is one of the 5 official languages of the UN. The most widely spoken language in the world, Mandarin Chinese is also one of the hardest languages to learn for Westerners. Why choose to learn Mandarin; +Mandarin Chinese is the lingua franca, it is the standard form of Chinese which is taught across China. This means that regardless of where you go or what the local dialect is, when travelling or doing business if you speak in Mandarin then you will be understood. +Considering the demand, there is a huge amount of material, both in terms of textbooks and online, with which to study Mandarin Chinese. It is widely taught in universities and is gradually becoming more available in schools. +The potential for greater employment opportunities is huge. These days, everyone is trying to do business in Asia and a strong foundation in the language is invaluable. Why choose to learn Cantonese; +If you're going to be living and working in Hong Kong or in the Guangdong region, then speaking Cantonese is obviously incredibly useful. +While speaking Mandarin will give you greater employment opportunities, arguably so will Cantonese - especially since most people study Mandarin. However, problems arise when choosing to study Cantonese. +There is generally a lack of good learning materials since there is not the same demand which exists for Mandarin. +In addition, Cantonese does not have a standard Romanization system (like Pinyin for Mandarin). Yale Romanization is most commonly used in textbooks, but it is unknown to native Cantonese speakers. +Cantonese is heard increasingly less often in Overseas Chinese communities as new Mandarin-speaking immigrants arrive from Mainland China. On top of that, many Cantonese speakers are focusing on learning Mandarin in order to improve their employment potential in the Mainland. In conclusion, while Cantonese is a fascinating language (and one which I'm seriously considering taking up as a hobby) unless you're planning to live and work in Hong Kong, it's probably in your best interest to opt for Mandarin. If you're interest in hearing the languages compared, I attached a video too.