Easy-peasy, right?! The only problem is that there are apparently 8000 of them (although many are rarely used) and to be able to read well you should know about 3000-4000 of them.
Last Sunday many of my level 3 classmates took the HSK test. Apparently it was so hard that one of the Chinese supervisors said “Gosh, they are smart if they can do this because I wouldn’t be able to get much right!”
For those of u who do not know, the HSK test is, let me explain:
The Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK) is China's national standardized test designed and developed by the HSK Center of Beijing Language and Culture University to assess the Chinese language proficiency of non-native speakers (including foreigners, overseas Chinese and students from Chinese national minorities).
I guess you can say it is equivalent to the English TOEFL test to determine on what level you are on.
Seeing that the test was so hard I am quite happy I didn’t take it. My Japanese friend Anna also told me that the number of “Ou Mei Ren” (people from Europe and America) was close to zero… adding that: “I think it is fantastic that you guys even can get as high as to level 3 seeing that the Hanzi (the Chinese characters) simply makes no sense to you.” Well, if they can learn English ABC why can’t we then learn Characters?! Although I am not going to lie. I am having a pretty hard time with the writing.
That’s actually one reason why I am thinking that I will never take the HSK test. Even if I can read and understand characters, I cannot remember how to write enough characters to answer by handwriting. And even if I could, my handwriting would be too slow to fit into the time restriction of the test. How do you guys do it (speaking out to Ou Mei –or any other Chinese-as-a-second-language-speakers-who-writes-with-ABC-in-your-native-language)? Do you simply, by some unknown reason, master handwriting, or are you like me: whose handwriting embarrassingly enough often gets compared to the handwriting of a 5-year-old Chinese kid? Is there any easy way around the difficulty of writing, or any secret method to how you can remember all those strokes?
Actually, I asked one of my teachers about this, and she simply replied:
-Easier way? Jonna, let me tell you, the Chinese characters that you are learning now are already very easy, they are the simplified ones! You are so lucky you don’t have to learn the traditional characters that they still use on Taiwan, because that would be a challenge, but this one should be easy!
Oh it should? So where did I go wrong then?!