Super excited to finally to have the new HSK 4+ level online. This is a bridge level, between HSK 4 and 5. It is suitable for advanced HSK 4 and lower level HSK 5 learners.
One very exciting new part are the Free Speaking Classes, where we leave the class room and have real life conversations. This is a very new and different class concept to how usually online classes are taught, but something that many people have been asking for a long time. Very much looking forward to feedback on those classes. Big thanks to @Ben-Mandarin-HSK_5 @Chloe-Mandarin-HSK_5 @phillip-Mandarin-HSK_4 @Carl-Mandarin-HSK_4 for all your feedback when testing the classes out.
HSK 4+ even has a topic about getting a Covid vaccine LTL Flexi Classes
This is so exciting! Thank you @Andreas-Mandarin-HSK_6 and the LTL team. I love the topics and the class materials seem really polished. See you in class!
Are most of the classes (apart from speaking and covid) based on your original offline curriculum? Or has all of this been completely done from scratch? Either way very impressive!
All this has been done from scratch. We wanted to create something special for online classes.
We are working on publishing the HSK 1 Flexi Level as a print version so students can have all slides on a print out. If it works well we will do it for the higher levels too.
Looking forward to any kind of feedback for the HSK 4 + classes. I hope they are useful for everyone.
After the printouts are done, are you going to work on HSK5 next?
Since there is so much more material to cover for HSK5 and 6 are you thinking of doing more than 50 classes for each?
To finish it that will definitely require more. We will start with 50 though. 一步一步
HSK 1 Flexi Level as a print version…great idea.
Or maybe all lessons in one file would be a great thing already. I gather all HSK1 Flexi file on my iPad in one Goodnotes file at the moment, including all teacher’s and my notes.
I could do one of the final proofreads if you need help.
At the moment there are still many basic things to correct, capital letters in English words, the Fun pages’ English.
I would love to see whether I can still find errors in the final versions.
Oh thanks so much, we would love to get help there. I will email you
Already signed up for my first few classes next week!! Definitely a little bit intimidated by the articles in the free-speaking classes, some of them are pretty daunting. No better way to improve, though!
Just previewed the materials and this level is exactly the type of class I’ve been looking for for a long time! Just signed up for my first few classes as well. It definitely looks challenging, but I think I’ll improve a lot.
thanks. Also @Marco_Mandarin-HSK_4
HSK 4+ is starting today. We are only allowing a limited number of teachers who were trained for Free Speaking classes to teach this level. Please let us know any feedback - and be a little bit patient during the first week with us in case we stil have some hickups.
I spent two months planning this, but however many times you try and test something, there is no way to simulate real life
I just took my first HSK4+ class with Robert and haven’t noticed any hiccups! I’ll be looking out for those in the free speaking classes
You spent only two months developing 50 classes? That’s actually quite fast.
Wait, does that mean HSK5 classes will be ready for me by November?
Some reflections after I’m now 30% of the way through HSK4+:
The taught lessons are great, I am really enjoying the topics and vocabulary! The vocab seems to be very relevant and definitely feels like a step up from HSK 4. With the grammar points being explained on the slide in Chinese, it is sometimes a little hard to grasp fully, but usually it is fine just to see how the words are used in the example sentences on the later pages.
For the Free speaking class, I don’t think I will book again unless there are other people signed up to come too. I enjoyed the previous trial free speaking classes, and I think the teachers are often doing their best (altho don’t seem like they are familiar with the style of class), but personally I find it brain overload to only have a 1 on 1 conversation about native content material that is above your level. When there is a group discussion it is a bit more interesting, and while the other person is talking you have time to think a little and process what is on the page in front of you. Perhaps also some of the links that we are given is not really about topics that would generate free conversation - e.g. recent lesson on an art exhibition in an old village. Sounds cool for sure, but not something that you can springboard a conversation on.
Anyone else finding that or is it just me?
So far, I’m quite pleased with HSK4+'s content and presentation.
For the “Free speaking” classes, I do feel like they are a bit experimental and that the instructors are sincerely trying to figure out how to teach them. This is probably the most challenging format to teach (and study) we have.
My main concern is that most of these classes are not really “free speaking” classes but rather “reading comprehension” classes. We would typically take turns reading the first article (and never get to the second one). Actually, in most of these “free speaking” classes, there is less free speaking than in regular grammar classes (where we are encouraged to create sentences using new phrases).
The problem is that (as @Chloe-Mandarin-HSK_5 pointed out) the native content material is typically HSK6 (or 6+) and we often get stuck on cultural references/idioms and overly formal language used in these articles. The best way I’ve seen a teacher handle the “brain overload” was when she put in the extra effort before class to prepare a document: pasting the article into it, highlighting important words, and providing pinyin/translations. This kind of class is very helpful and deserves its own category, but it is still not a real “free speaking” class.
Maybe instead of reading the whole article, the teacher could quickly help us identify the main point and we would discuss that? If the topic is about some art exhibition in an old village that nobody has ever heard of, we can start by discussing the photos in the article and then comparing them to art we’re more familiar with. Or we can talk about our favorite artists from our respective countries, etc. Later, in HSK5 and higher classes, we would automatically have a more detailed understanding of each article and could discuss it more competently.
Anyway, because this class is so challenging and different every time, I am still willing to take it repeatedly while waiting for HSK5 lessons.
thanks so much for the feedback @Ben-Mandarin-HSK_5 @Chloe-Mandarin-HSK_5
Yes, the HSK 4+ is definitely challenging, especiall the free speaking classes.
The point in our thinking is that real life Chinese is challenging and thats what we want to do. The classes are meant to overwhelm a bit, so one can get used to that and over time get better at it.
While Teachers of course learn and prepare for the structure of the classes in advance they cannot prepare each discussion topic individually for Free Speaking (because they are different every day), as they often have a class just before that. So whatever we do it has to be done within those 60 minutes of the teachers time for this to work.
The alternative would be pre-prepared lessons from us, however they would then always be the same (so you cant take it again) and not about current events, but about some generic issue.
We are also trying to figure out what the best way is to pick the right part of the article, what to do when very difficult words of phrases appear and how much reading should be done.
All feedback is most welcome (we do read all feedback in the class feedback section!)
I was terrified of free-speaking classes after taking my first. I’ve had to force myself to take more since they are very challenging. I do agree with @Ben-Mandarin-HSK_5 that they’re not really free-speaking classes—they are reading comprehension classes. There’s barely any discussion at all besides reading and translating the article. And I do mean article because we’ve never been able to get through one whole article let alone two.
While I do find a lot of value in these classes, particularly in helping me get out of my comfort zone (and keeping me humble lol), I think a better approach for free-speaking classes would be to use graded text materials. The Chairman’s Bao and DuChinese have graded materials for HSK 4 students, so I’m not sure if it would be possible to partner with them so that we can read an article from either one and then discuss. I think TCB does more news/real-life topics while DuChinese does more fiction, so I think TCB would be better for this.
Ideally, reading one full text should take no longer than 10 minutes so that we have time for discussion. Now it’s taking the full hour so there’s basically no discussion at all.
As for the rest of the HSK4+ classes, I am really enjoying them as well. I find that it’s a big jump in difficulty from the HSK4 classes, but I’m getting the hang of it. I definitely feel that my Chinese has started to improve again since I started taking HSK4+ classes.
I would rather not regress to graded readers. As @Andreas-Mandarin-HSK_6 pointed out they’re a bit artificial and can’t really be repeated. Also, I feel we don’t really need a teacher for those. Readers are great for self study though and I personally try to read every day and record my progress.
Instead in the class we could just follow the guide in the Study materials and “timebox” the reading to the first 10 minutes - even if we go through 1 paragraph only. The teacher would help to summarize the paragraph and make sure everybody understands the main point and then ask an open ended question eg. “What is your opinion on Xxx” or Do you have Xxx in your home country" (where Xxx is the topic of the article) and that would hopefully sparkle a discussion. I believe the teacher would not need to prepare for the specific topic to come up with these generic questions.
My preply tutor is really good at asking open ended questions and forces me to speak out, list the pros and cons of each problem/solution and to formulate my own opinion even if I originally didn’t have any.