@ewilc773 made a great post in the comments of a recent intermediate lesson about Cpod levels / HSK levels / and international language standards.
One of the points he made is that Cpod levels were originally designed around spoken Chinese word frequencies, while the HSK seems to be more drawing more from written word frequency lists. From the comment by @ewilc773 :
"The ChinesePod method and levels were established seveal years before the HSK levels of 1 through 6 existed (those came out around 2010), but there is a rough correspondence, since both look to the European Common Framework. The level divisions were deliberately designed for spoken Chinese only, and some of that work is publicly available at AllSet Learning’s Grammar Wiki.
The corpus was taken, not from the most commonly used characters in general, but from studies on what words are actually commonly spoken. This makes it quite different from the HSK, which has a much greater emphasis on written Chinese - loaded with words that are often printed, and rarely spoken.
Like I said, ChinesePod had its system all laid out years ago, but in 2018 there have been a lot of cooks in the kitchen, mixing up all kinds of random ingredients for any level, without the strict guidelines of previous ChinesePod generations. It has turned into a regrettably confusing and frustrating situation."
There were originally 6 Cpod levels, now a pre-intermediate level has been added to help as a bridge . The Cpod library is deep with thousands of super useful lessons ( I think it’ more like 3000 lessons rather than 4000 as always stated, I think lessons #3000-#4000 were skipped? ) I agree language is a continuous spectrum, so level divisions are arbitrary, But some kind of standard may be helpful.
@ewilc773 's comment is a great jumping off point for thoughts/discussion on the truly innovative ’ learn to speak Chinese --> on your terms --> like a native ’ aka the Cpod Method:
There’s lots of test prep materials out there. There’s lots of reading stuff out there. But, when it comes to helping people “Speak like a native,” the options are far more limited, and quite frankly, frequently awful. Only the old ChinesePod will tell you the exact words a Chinese couple yell at each other when they’re breaking up.