First of all, let me say I love ChinesePod. I use it all the time and I think it's great. However, for those of us that are studying for the HSK exams it's unfortunate that the dialogues are not indexed by HSK level. Of course, ChinesePod dialogues can be done in any order; so I figured, if one is studying for a HSK level, might as well pick dialogues that contribute to the vocabulary requirements for that HSK level!
Coming up with a list of dialogues per HSK level is a non-trivial task; ideally such a list would satisfy a number of requirements:
- It should cover as much of each HSK level as possible
- It should use as few dialogues as possible to achieve that coverage
- It should use dialogues that use as little non-HSK vocabulary as possible
Some additional design goals are
- Use only vocabulary that actually appears in the dialogue. (Initially I attempted to use only the dialogue's “key” vocabulary, but that excluded too many HSK words; now I use also words from a dialogue's “supplemental” vocabulary, but only if it actually appears in the dialogue).
- If we have to pick a lesson with vocabulary outside the HSK level we're studying, then vocabulary that is in another HSK level is preferable to vocabulary that is not included at any HSK level, and vocabulary at a lower HSK level is preferable to vocabulary at a higher HSK level.
- Dialogues on different kinds of topics
Satisfying any one of these requirements is easy, but satisfying all of them all is a difficult balancing act. It's almost impossible to do by hand, so I wrote a piece of software to help me with it; it's available from GitHub if you're curious. The software talks to the ChinesePod server; many thanks for the ChinesePod's CTO for giving me access to ChinesePod's API.
The construction of the list is still not fully automated, because there are still many decisions that require some thought; for instance, if the HSK curriculum includes 冬 and 夏 then it's okay to pick a ChinesePod dialogue that includes 冬天 and 夏天 instead, but if the curriculum includes 东 and 西 then including a dialogue with 东西 is not okay. So it becomes a computer aided process, but not an automated process.
Anyway, the list of dialogues I constructed can be found on my website at http://www.edsko.net/2015/10/17/ChinesePod-HSK/ ; I was going to include them here but apparently as a new forum user I can only include two links in a forum post.
For each HSK level I record how much of the HSK curriculum is covered by the dialogues (and which words are not covered), how many dialogues are included, and the percentage of HSK vocabulary against the total vocabulary used in the dialogues (i.e., a value of 100% means the dialogues used only HSK vocabulary; a percentage of 50% means the ratio HSK vocabulary to non-HSK vocabulary is 1:1, etc.). (HSK words are not covered either if there are no dialogues that include them, or if they are only covered in dialogues with a very low HSK to non-HSK vocabulary ratio.)