A mix of UIC foreign interns and exchange students have taken part and achieved HSK (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi) certifications during their stay at UIC. They took Chinese language lessons that were offered to them by UIC’s Chinese Language and Culture Centre (CLC) during the two semesters that they stayed here. Then during the second semester, they entered themselves to take the HSK.

HSK, or the Chinese Proficiency Test, is an international standardised exam which tests and rates Chinese language proficiency. It assesses non-native Chinese speakers' abilities in using the Chinese language in their daily, academic, and professional lives. These five Chinese language learners spoke about their experience of learning Chinese and HSK preparation at UIC.

 

Meghan Moran, ELC Foreign Intern

I thought the preparation in HSK 1 and 2 classes were very good, especially considering I'm the kind of learner who understands best with a well-structured plan. The clear layout of the book and the variation of activities in class made the process engaging and worthwhile.

I took the HSK classes because the official recognition appealed to me, and when I start studying again, I know exactly where to pick back up. I'm not confident that the next class I take will measure up to the same expectations, but I feel well prepared to start back up again in the future- and, of course, to communicate a little in the meantime.

Meghan

Meghan achieved HSK level 2 during her second semester of learning Chinese

 

Vincent Plancher, Exchange student from Lille Catholic University

Learning Chinese is getting more and more relevant in the business world as China will soon be the largest economy in the world. That’s one of the reasons why I chose to come to China. So, in the middle of my second semester at UIC, I decided to prepare for HSK2 so I could come back to France with proof of my Chinese understanding capabilities. The HSK2 content is different from the Elementary Chinese II Class that I was taking. Indeed, HSK is more academic and Elementary Chinese is more practical for living in China. So I had to catch up on a lot of vocabulary.

As time was limited, I focused more on remembering the vocabulary in pinyin, and I didn’t try to learn to write the characters, as it would have been very time-consuming. Taking the Elementary Chinese class was extremely useful for everyday life in China, and I could feel progress week after week. I only wish we had more study time.

Vincent

Vincent achieved HSK level 2 during his second semester of learning Chinese

 

Serafina Calarco, ELC Foreign Intern

Classes for HSK were very valuable and informative especially with the guidance of our teacher, Candy Cai. It gave us basic knowledge of Mandarin and became the stepping stone for my studies in Mandarin. I first wanted to do HSK to have a formal record of my studies in Chinese but also used this to work myself up to eventually take the highest level of HSK.

Serafina

 Serafina achieved HSK level 2 during her second semester of learning Chinese

 

Rowan McCaffery, DHSS Foreign Intern

I found the preparation in class and my own personal study easy to follow and very structured. The HSK textbooks were very well put together and easy to dip in and out of when needed. I wanted to take the HSK as I have studied Chinese for almost three years and wanted something to show for it. I also wanted something to give me motivation to continue my Chinese studies.

I found the preparation in class and my own personal study easy to follow and very structured. The HSK textbooks were very well put together and easy to dip in and out of when needed. I wanted to take the HSK as I have studied Chinese for almost three years and wanted something to show for it. I also wanted something to give me motivation to continue my Chinese studies.

Rowan

Rowan achieved HSK level 2 during her second semester of learning Chinese

  

Rachel Anyetei, ELC Foreign Intern

Preparing to take the HSK II exam was so fun and stressful at the same time. Near the end of term, the class size began to shrink so lessons felt more personalised and thorough. Candy helped us understand not only the words but the cultural contexts of some words. There may be a few words that are translated as the same word in English, but in the context of Chinese, they have completely different applications.

The HSK book does attempt to explain these grammar points but it was really thanks to Candy that I could understand it an in depth way. As the exam got closer, we did mock exams for HSK I and II just to refresh our memory and practice.

I wanted to take the HSK because it is an internationally recognised qualification for Mandarin. The book itself seemed very clear and diverse in terms of scenarios and conversations and overall, the HSK book was a comprehensive introduction to Chinese. It equipped me with enough knowledge to conduct basic conversations and understand some of what is asked of me day-to-day, living in China. I know that if I am consistent, I can improve by a level each year and that is solely because of the excellent foundation that I built on this course. It was really enjoyable learning HSK in class with Candy.      

Rachel

Rachel achieved HSK level 2 during her second semester of learning Chinese

 

Feedback

CLC lecturer, Ms Candy Cai Jingjing, who taught the foreign interns, as well as learners of elementary Chinese I and II said that “We all know learning Chinese is definitely not easy. Sometimes learners feel like they are lost, or quitting. I wanted to give interns and students a clear goal in learning Chinese during their time at UIC, and something to help them continue on.”

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Ms Cai (right) with exchange student, Vincent (left)

An extremely pleased Ms Cai continued, “We got full votes to initiate HSK courses in our first class. We set the goal, and then we worked for it. Time flew. By the end of the year, they enjoyed the harvest of their work: a standardised certification and foundation to progress to the next level in Chinese. Our CLC team is always brainstorming ways to improve the experience in one of the most difficult languages to learn--Chinese--to better invite and engage students.”

Reporter: Samuel Burgess (MPRO)
Editor: Deen He (MPRO)