Update on Chinese lessons
So it’s been five days already of Chinese lessons in Taipei at the Taiwan Mandarin Institute. Here are few thoughts on my time so far.
How am I structuring my Chinese classes?
The classes are each morning for two hours, with a ten minute break after one hour. We spend a quick few minutes chatting about our morning or what we did yesterday before 涓老师 Juan Lao Shi – my teacher listens to my homework. We then spend another 10-15 minutes talking about the examples I have given and going through the mistakes.
Focus on speaking
I made the decision before starting my lessons this week that I wanted to focus on improving my speaking. There is a lot of focus (and rightly so if you want to progress beyond the basics) on written Chinese, but I felt in my previous language learning holiday in Shanghai that I spent too much time on writing drills and not enough time on impromptu conversation.
So I suggested to my teacher that I would do my homework via voice memo or video. So far so good I think. Although for every new word or grammar structure I probably need to do 3-4 examples rather than 1.
We have spent some time practicing all the different terms for family members. Did you know in Chinese that there are different terms for cousin depending on if they are on your maternal or paternal side, a male or female and older or younger than you? As well as different terms for uncle, aunt, sister-in-law depending on which side of the family and their age? All this can get a bit confusing!
HSK exam preparation
HSK stands for Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi 汉语水平考试 and is a Chinese exam to assess your proficiency. There are six levels , from 1 (beginner) – 6 (advanced) and I am preparing to do my HSK Level 4 exam later this year back in Melbourne. I’m working my way through the new vocabulary and grammar for this exam. I have highlighted the words I don’t know or find difficult to use and I spend some time preparing examples via voice recording. We also spend time in class going through new examples and add in around 20-30 new words and structures each class. I bought a nifty flashcard key ring for all my new vocab!
I received a Taiwanese text book with my classes which so far we haven’t used. It has mostly traditional characters but the main texts are also in simplified characters. The level looks about right for me with a mix of vocab and structures that are new and familiar. I think next week I will choose a chapter or two to spend time on. It will also be a useful resource to take home with me.
Focus for my second week
I’m looking forward to my second week of classes and will continue with the focus on speaking and listening practice. I will suggest perhaps some more comprehension practice that will be useful for my HSK 4 exam. Overall it’s been a great first week with a nice balance of revision and new material.
Are you studying Chinese or another language right now? What learning techniques are you using? Any tips?
Lingo Mama xx
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