HSK Elementary-Intermediate listening section

I would just like to give some positive feedback about a very useful book for doing well on the HSK Elementary-Intermediate listening section.

Many people think the listening section is one of the hardest parts of the test. The first time I took the test, I had assumed because my listening was so goddamn amazing, that I would easily get a 7 or an 8 on the listening section. Of course, it turns out that the formidable listening section was a bit faster, a bit harder, and a bit more random than I expected, and I only got a 6 on the section.

Usually you will hear a short dialogue or line of conversation about some sort of thing in everyday life. It might be two friends gossiping about another person. It may be a person complaining about prices. It may be a person scheduling a plane flight. Although there are some news related questions at the end, for the most part the listening doesn’t cover geeky academic subjects, and I would imagine that if you have primary learned Chinese in classrooms, this might be a problem. Even if you have a solid listening foundation, the dialogues are spoken fairly quickly, and the scenarios switch quickly. The first time I took the test, unfortunately I think there was some listening that I know I normally would have understood easily if I had the full context. But, the test gives you no context. In my mind, it was hard to mentally change your frame of mind from being at a restaurant, to then listening to two family members talking about someone’s birthday party, to listening to an employee explain to her boss why she did a sloppy job at work…etc.

That’s where HSK: 听力题型分析与训练 (初,中等) becomes really helpful. The wonderful editors of this book 王小宁, 候子玮 went through 3,500 simulation questions from various sources and then analyzed those question in order to find common question patterns. The book is thus divided into 23 chapters, with each chapter pertaining to a different question type. For example, there is the 数字题型 (Questions about numbers), 职业与身份题型 (Questions about professions and status) 语气题型 (questions about the tone of language)…etc

The book will describe the nature of each type of listening. Then they will give a few examples. Then they will give the way in which the HSK often frames the question. Then they often give some key words or key things to look out for. Then they give about 15 practice questions of that question pattern (the book comes with tapes for that purpose).

In this manner, you learn how the HSK listening test works. I recently took the test, and because of this book, I could pre-read the four answers, and usually predict the question type. Then by doing that, I could mentally prepare myself for what words or what situations I was likely to hear. For example, on one question I saw that all the possible answers were related to a profession, say A) 服务员, B) 老师, C) 记者, D) 司机. Then, because I knew they would say words related to the profession, but they wouldn’t directly mention it, I quickly thought of a few words related to each. Sure enough, one of those key words popped up. This systematic understanding of how the HSK tests your listening ability makes taking the test a lot easier.

Anyway, I’d strongly recommend this helpful book, and I hope it can help people do well on future HSK’s.