Road Map for Chinese Learners

How to Reach an Advanced Level in Four Years or Less

Year 1: Beginning Chinese
Year 2: Intermediate Chinese
Year 3: Advanced Chinese I
Year 4: Advanced Chinese II

Learning Goals: Year Four


Advanced Chinese II


Goals

  • Listening and speaking: You can talk to a native speaker confidently at natural speed in a great variety of topics except for some professional/technical topics. Even if the native speaker speaks with slight local accent, you can still understand quite well. You can speak elegantly in formal occasions although preparations are needed.
  • Reading: A milestone for this stage is you will master your skills of fast reading. Your reading speed will be over 200 Chinese characters per minute. You recognize over 2,500 Chinese characters and over 8,000 Chinese words. You can successfully decode most of the new words in given context if they are formed by the characters you know. You can read and respond to academic writings.
  • Writing: You can write longer social/cultural comments and short research papers that meet or be close to the quality of publication in Chinese newspapers and journals. You can also write creatively, composing vivid short stories and descriptive prose.
  • Grammar: You understand the rules of collocation of Chinese words (quantitative syllable requirement as well as other requirements). You understand the special rules of colloquial Chinese.
  • Culture: You will have a comprehensive understanding of Chinese society, culture, and history.
  • Your oral proficiency level shall reach at least Advanced Mid. If you take HSK test, you shall get at least Level 7 (But you may try advanced level and Level 9 is not impossible).

Tips

  • At this stage, the way of your Chinese learning has changed dramatically. You are rather using Chinese than learning Chinese. You get important information from Chinese sources and you communicate with Chinese people in writing and speech effectively. In other words, you should "forget" you are learning Chinese but just do things in Chinese. Don't focus on words, patterns, grammars, etc. Focus on contents!
  • For the above reason, you may try to find out of campus opportunities (internship, projects, etc.) that require using the Chinese language.
  • Now the task for you is not only how to express yourself clearly but also how to do it better. You need to set up a higher standard for yourself.
  • In speech, you need to understand the social linguistic functions of the three styles: Colloquial style shows a close relationship; formal style demonstrates professionalism or sometimes an intention to keep a distance from the listener; the standard spoken style is neutral.
  • In fast reading, you don't need to understand every words/phrases. You just need to catch the main meaning. If you really want to understand something interesting, then you should slow down and read every word carefully.
  • Believe in yourself. You can publish your article in Chinese. It is NOT a dream but a reality.
  • If you have been using simplified Chinese characters, now is the time for you to try to read traditional racters. If you have been using traditional characters, now is the time for you to try simplified characters.

Frequently Asked Questions

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I have concerns with learning colloquial Chinese. Maybe it is more proper for a foreigner to speak Standard Spoken Chinese than to use slangs.

Colloquial Chinese is not equal to Chinese slangs. It is a more natural and humorous way to speak Chinese. You can pick up the proper words within the system and avoid using slangs. The benefits are not only for your speaking but for your understanding also. By learning it, you will understand Chinese movies and TV series much better.

I don't think my Chinese is good enough for creative writing.

To learn creative writing is the most efficient way of improving your Chinese at this stage. The main purpose of writing short stories is not to publish them but to make you a better Chinese narrator. If you really want to speak and write like a native speaker, you should try it.

Is it really important to pay attention to the prosadic/syllabic requirements of word collocations? Does it really matter if I break the rule?

Yes. This requirement is part of Chinese grammar system. If put a single syllable object after a formal bi-syllable verb, the problem is not just weird but wrong. This is the time for you to study the rules and get used to them so that you can speak and write in line with the requirements naturally.