Chinese proficiency report #2

Inspired by my six month report two weeks ago, I decided to start writing reports on my Chinese skills as they (hopefully) expand and evolve.

My courses in Chinese for the 2011-2012 year are the following:

  • TEKI01 – Basic Chinese part 1
    • The first of two basic courses, which take up the greatest part of the programme. These include the general grammar, vocabulary, listening, writing, et cetera. TEKI01 consisted of two exams and ten or so minor tests, and was ongoing from August to December 2011.
  • TEKI02 – Basic Chinese part 2
    • The next step after TEKI01, started in January and ends in May. Also consists of two exams and ten or so minor tests. The first exam was written on March 7, 2012, and the second will come in May.
  • TEKI09 – Translation
    • One of the two minor courses, TEKI09 consists of translation of Swedish sentences to Chinese, mainly using the vocabulary from TEKI01/02. August 2011 – May 2012.
  • TEKI10 – Practical language skills and specialized language
    • Another minor course, covering both everyday situations as well as specialized language for math, science and engineering.

My vocabulary is getting much stronger every day. By the end of February, I had gone through all words from TEKI09 and TEKI10, as well as a couple of chapters ahead of the TEKI02 course literature and several hundred added words I consider of importance from other areas – stuff like clothing, foods and other articles not covered in our literature, as well as scientific terms not covered in the TEKI10, like all the planets, a few major asteroids, some scientific theories and so on. The timing was perfect to be able to spend two weeks focusing less on new words and more on rehearsing the old ones for my TEKI02 test on March 7. The number of unique hanzi (Chinese characters) in my vocabulary are plateauing as the same hanzi can appear in many different words, but they have now reached around 1500 and continue to grow steadily. All of this is managed thanks to Anki.

Unique hanzi with March 7 as day 0, going back 180 days (slightly shorter than I've studied). The different colours reflect the hanzi's degree according to the HSK test, the standardised test of Chinese language skills. (Screenshot from Anki with the Pinyin Toolkit plugin.)

In the past two months, I’ve also started studying radicals more extensively, finding an excellent Anki deck to help along remembering the pronunciations and meanings.

Separate from vocabulary, I’ve also started working more on understanding Chinese idioms and quotes. I got an excellent idiom dictionary for Christmas and I’ve started reading up on a lot of them. In January, I bought a collection of Confucius quotes with the text in both Swedish and Chinese, with helps both in reading classical texts and in understanding the Confucian influence on China.

Speaking of reading, my reading of Chinese texts is getting better and better along. This is still one of my greater hurdles, separate from the vocabulary which is going much better. I’m reading much quicker than before, grasping the meaning and the pronounciation immediately more often, but I still need to work a lot with it. In the past weeks, I’ve made a habit of reading a minimum of two chapters in my course book out loud every day, which I think has helped a lot.

The next step to continue the habit I’ve had for a while now. I split the new vocabulary between course book words, additional words and radicals. I continue reading two chapters every day. I continue reading other stuff, such as idioms, Confucius and such, on the spare time when I feel like it. I will also ramp up my studies of traditional Chinese – I’ve already studied it half-heartedly for the past few months, but I’ll make sure to start spending more time on it and ease especially my reading, although the writing is of a lesser importance for now.

See you for a while.

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