For our column, Ask an Educator, we turn to educators, whether teachers, tutors, or principals, to answer frequently asked questions from parents. To send in your question, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week, our question is:
“Can children take the HSK? If not, what is the equivalent Chinese proficiency test for kids?”
Answering for us is Miyee Woon, a private HSK tutor who prides herself on being able to teach foreigners as a non-native Chinese speaker.
When we decide to book our ticket to China, we probably thought that we should at least learn some basic Chinese in order to help us explore more in the country, and that our kids should be exposed to the new language as well. In today’s society, mastering Chinese (especially mandarin) is considered one of the essential elements to make one more competitive.
HSK (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi) test is designed for those who aim to gain the qualification proving their ability to understand the spoken and written Chinese (Mandarin).
The HSK Test aims to assess your ability to understand spoken and written Chinese and consists of six levels:
Level 1, 2, 3 (HSK Threshold): Acquire 400-1000 Chinese characters, plus master the most basic HSK grammar requirements.
Level 4 (HSK Basic): Acquire 400-3000 basic Chinese characters, plus Level A and B in HSK grammar requirements.
Level 5 (HSK Elementary-Intermediate): Acquire 2000-5000 basic Chinese characters (Level A, B, and C in HSK Vocabulary). Master Level A, B, and C in HSK grammar requirements.
Level 6 (HSK Advanced): Acquire 5000-8000 Chinese characters (Level A, B, C, and D in HSK Vocabulary). Master Level A, B, C, and D in HSK grammar.
(Source: 孔子学校 )
The HSK lesson plan would be a bit too boring for young children (4-6). Young children tend to have shorter attention span compared to grownups. Thus, an innovative lesson plan would be more appropriate to them, for instance, a story book reading accompanied by basic Chinese characters would catch their interest. The lesson can be taught in the form of game playing or storytelling. With the basic knowledge gained from home study, parents would have the option to send their children either to the local Chinese kindergarten (for pre-school lessons), or a private tutor to teach at home in order to systematically build a solid foundation of the Chinese basics.
If parents hope their children will have a certificate of Chinese level qualification, they might have to enroll their kids into a Chinese school, or bilingual school with a Chinese department, from grade 1 to grade 6. After the first six years of elementary study, our children can apply and take the HSK test. Then, the children would obtain the qualified mandarin level certification, which can be used in university admissions or job applications in China.
Photo courtesy of Miyee Woon