"That's some great notes you've got there, dear!"
Yesterday I had my last, out of three exams (speaking, grammar and listening. We also had an essay writing exam some weeks ago. I am still having nightmares about that one), namely my 口语 (kou yu) exam.
口语 (kou yu) is spoken Chinese, so I was a bit surprised when I got the exam, that consisted of 2 different parts:
Part 1: Written test: including character writing, writing sentences, explaining typical Chinese expression phrases by using your own (written) words, and completing dialogues by using special (read: chosen) words/expressions. Not much room for creativity here, no.
Surprisingly, the written test went quite well. Or OK, at least I think so. The characters seem to have somehow stuck in my mind this semester (or, maybe it was just a temporary moment of luck, who knows? I guess I will find out in some days when I will allow myself to re-open my books to, ehum, rehearse... )
Moving on to part 2, which was supposed to be the more 'oral part' of the test. This test consisted of four parts:
1. Read characters that were written on a piece of paper.
2. Read a longer text that the teacher had chosen for us.
3. Get a piece of paper with a total of 7 words (only in Chinese characters of course) and use all of those words to answer a question she asked.
4. Give a small presentation (oral only, thank lord!) about a topic of your own choice.
Hm... Is is only me who is sensing that something is wrong here... like.. where is the SPEAKING test?! Except for the final, 3-4 minute presentation, there was very little room for speaking?! Reading characters and text from a piece of paper isn't speaking, or is it? Well, at least not every-day speaking anyways? Who's going to go though life with a piece of paper in his/her hand?!
I was also surprised when I spoke to one of my classmates afterwards and she told me that she had nailed her topic.
-Awesome! I said. What did you talk about?
-Well, I had this whole story written down about travelling in northern China. So I just read her that one! It was great! Since I had everything on paper I didn't forget any hard words!
-Eh... OK.. Sure. Awesome. Great!
Hm... I think this girl is indeed planning to go through life with a piece of paper in her hand!?
If there is one part missing from learning Chinese at a Chinese university, it is learning how to speak Chinese without holding on to your book/notes. Fortunately, I noticed this already when I was on level 2, so I have gotten myself several language partners (and friends at gyms....) to practice my spoken Chinese with. Still, I feel that it is kind of sad, not to mention weird, that there is a whole course called 'spoken Chinese' that should be called 'spoken Chinese from a book,' because really, that is what it is.