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I have a studying crisis, please help!

I have been studying Mandarin Chinese for about 4 years now. When I started studying my junior year of college, I had the goal to become fluent in Chinese to live in China. I took the HSK 3 test and I was feeling on top of the world. Fast forward to today, and I haven’t been to China (met someone in the US and now I’m getting married…they don’t want to live in China). I took the HSK 4 test and now I’m studying for the HSK 5, but I’m starting to question “Why am I studying for the HSK anymore?” I’m not going to work or study in China so it’s not like the test matters anymore, but I feel if I don’t study for the test then I have no basis for which to base my Chinese level on. I still can’t make complex sentences correctly and I’m feeling very bad about myself while others studying are doing better than me and haven’t been studying as long as me. How do I go on from here? I haven’t lost my love of Chinese or the goal of being fluent, but now that I’m questioning the purpose of the HSK test in my life, and how I go about studying and what to study is in complete disarray. I’m sorry for the rambling but I’m spiraling out of control and I need advice to ground myself.


I think you are right. We don’t need to pass the HSK exam before we can work or live in China. The reason I personally would choose HSK exam is the motivation to learn sth new. If I don’t, I feel like I could easily throw the book away when I am busy with something else. Then I wouldn’t even look at the book and play those videos on ChinesePod again. I totally understand your concern. You don’t need to pass the top level HSK exam but at least I reckon to pass the entry and intermediate level is sufficient and a good start. Then you can learn more from the daily conversation with Chinese people if you live in China. Coz in my opinion the fundamental of Chinese grammar is quite important to us. Happy to discuss.

Good luck for your Chinese study!

Hi Death,
Very happy to hear from you here, I think your Chinese is really good now, you are inerested in learning a language, that is very important factor to study a language well, actually ,yes, you dont need to take HSK 5 ,but you still can take the test if you have time, it is not test thing, that because you like Chinese, besides, you will learn more during the exam.Happy to discuss.

Hi there,
        About HSK, just one question for you. To you, what is the meaning of a test? To teenage students, it’s a tool to let them know in which lesson or which part they still have some problems. To transnational workers, it’s a certificate to prove their ability. With this in mind, you can answer your own question yourself. Do you need a test to point out your problems in Chinese? Or you just enjoy learning a language and can find someone or materials to do so.

        As for your second question: unable to make complex sentences, I have the same problem, too. I got C1 in IELTS which is pretty high compared to most of the people in my country, but I still have grammatical problems and sometimes have problems communicating with English native speakers. How to deal with this? And what kind of materials can I use? Let’s figure them out. Let’s see how a baby acquires his mother tongue. He copies what adults say, makes mistakes, and keep copying. This is the same stage for a newbie foreign language learner. Afterward, the baby grows up and goes to elementary school to learn sentences. I still remember that my Chinese homework is “make a sentence with 因为…所以…”. And this is the stage for elementary and pre-intermediate learners. After this, kids go to middle school and learn to express more beautifully or complicatedly through articles. And this is the stage for intermediate or higher-level learners. So, which state are you in now? If most of your problems are about grammar, check out our elementary and pre-intermediate videos. If your grammar is ok, just can’t make the sentence more fluent, check out our intermediate videos or find some Chinese dramas, books, YouTube videos. The more native speakers’ products you watch/read/listen to, the better your Chinese would be. Remember, compare yourself to yourself only, not to others. Besides, think about it: How long does it take to acquire your mother tongue? With it in mind, you don’t really need to worry about the effectiveness of learning Chinese. It does take time to acquire a language. You absolutely can make it! Trust yourself!

Warm Regards

As a student the HSK was important to know what my level in Chinese was and I still had dreams of going to study/work in China. Now that my future spouse has no plans to ever live in another country, I had to give up those dreams. Currently the HSK is still more of a level placement as I don’t know how to go about studying Chinese any other way but for the HSK. I have an Italki tutor who is helps me with general Chinese but I don’t find it being enough. I’m so used to the studying for the HSK only. For the sentence making I have multiple grammar books, tutor, etc. but I still can’t seem to wrap my head around anything. I know it’ll be a long journey, but I just find myself missing cornerstones that I should have already acquired along the way.

Hi there,
I would like to share my experience with you. I started to learn English when I am 6 or so. That means that I have learned English for 20 years. And I am still facing the same problem that you face. My way to overcome it is to keep using it. One of my teachers once told me to speak in English to yourself like murmuring. Why? Because when you do so, (1) you can slow it down and check whether there’s anything wrong with the pronunciation or grammar (2) you would find the vocabulary you don’t know before (3) gradually, you would speak faster even without thinking how to translate. 20 years pass, and I am still learning. Besides, there’s a Chinese saying, “once you give up, it might be put to waste.” So don’t give up. Hang in there!

Yes, we should stick on it as long as we can, I obviously feel like I’m going back after I stop learning for a period of time.

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Hi DeathNevermore,

Never give up your dream, you never know what the future brings to you.

My advice; why don’t you quit HSK for a while and start chatting with your Italki tutor. Focus on sentences en pronunciation and you’re listening skills. For example try to explain your thoughts in Chinese.
Then you have to (or slowly will) find out what you really want to learn and set these new goals.

I’m in China now (after “dreaming” for almost 45 years) to study Chinese and I can tell you, they don’t speak HSK they only speak Chinese. :smiley: