You saw the title, I’m now officially fluent in Chinese because I passed an official test! It was the YTC/HSK Level one which just about covers the basics of the language.
From the sounds of it you’re meant to spend about a year studying it but I was able to binge it in the last 6 weeks! But theirs more than just a passing grade to comment on here, this was just the conclusion of a Chinese conspiracy that went badly wrong!
So imagine this: you’re going about your daily business at school when suddenly you are presented with an opportunity by a languages teacher. For the price of £450 – £800 you get to go to China… FOR A WHOLE MONTH!!! The only condition being that you complete a 6 week Chinese course in school.
So naturally I accepted this opportunity, after all I have a part time job and never spend money and it was a good choice. We would have learned Chinese for a whole month and also see nice sights in China. But it was not to be.
First of all let’s talk about those Chinese classes, which were the most basic thing ever and completely boring. What would you expect? I’m not complaining but after 2 two hour lessons after school where all we had learned was “hello, my name is…” because we spent ages on pronunciation and what the zodiac animals were (useless) I was feeling a bit on edge about the future of this whole thing.
Then the spark was lit from under our feet! The company responsible for making this trip so cheap pulled out their funding, and instead of cancelling everything school thought it was a good idea to organise the trip themselves. So basically they switched the trip from one month to two weeks, switched it up from learning a language to sight seeing, and kept the cost the exact same!
This was when I stopped looking forward to going on to the trip because I wouldn’t get to learn mandarin! It was made worse by the fact that of the 20 people who could go 17 were in one huge friend group with no interest in talking to anyone else and the other two was a pair who just blanked me. So great, to be honest I didn’t try that hard though but still…
Anyway it becomes quickly apparent to me that this trip, even if it was to go off, was the most badly organised thing I could possibly have signed up to. There were multiple times where we were given deadlines one day before they were due or we were kicked out of the trip. Not only that but the meeting that was going to give us some more details about the trip never actually happened so I didn’t even know what was going on for the most part.
Then one person pulled out of the trip via email and got a furious response criticising their grammar, career prospects and ungratefulness. To be honest I don’t blame them and honestly regret not doing sooner since the signs of incompetence and lack of organisation were clear from the start. Not that the teacher was necessarily incompetent, just that they were probably the 3rd most busy person at a school that runs two other schools at the same time.
Anyway a few days later we get an email and form about the costs of the trip. For a deadline due in THE NEXT DAY, we had to pay £1300 for a trip that was shortened from 14 days to 9 (or 10) so needless to say not many of us were happy.
At this point I thought it was about time for me to vanish, I sent an email pulling out of the trip. Me pulling out would have almost guaranteed the trip wouldn’t go ahead but I didn’t care. I wasn’t about to spend £1300 just so some random other dudes could enjoy themselves! What a waste of money!
Turns out I caused nothing because someone else had pulled out of the trip before me anyway and half of the group didn’t want to pay either.
But it doesn’t end here.
Suddenly the teacher acts like we’re being unreasonable and complains about how she contacted 30 plane companies that week and e.c.t. Basically being really entitled and annoyed at how we wouldn’t fund her free trip to China simply because the reality of the deal was nothing like it was told to us.
To be honest I’m more sympathetic towards the teacher than everyone else I know is because I get her attitude.
I just don’t get how she expected people to have faith in her when she decided to book things like plane tickets 6 months after people had put their name down for a trip, and less than a week before she told us how much everything would cost.
Literally everything about this trip was changed except for it’s location.
Anyway this email telling us the trip was cancelled was only sent to students, nobody else was contacted.
Then in the email we were told we still had to go to those boring 2 hour mandarin lessons and take the final test because if we didn’t it would be embarrassing to the school. YES THAT WOULD BE EMBARRASSING FOR THE SCHOOL WOULDN’T IT? Because terrible planning and organisation is a completely normal thing that should happen.
So there I was in the mandarin class room 6 days before the test that Saturday. I had a book of notes and no mandarin in my head at all. We did practice and I got everything wrong because I just didn’t care any more and I had spent the past half an hour trying to remember that anime film that was on the tip of my tongue that I would watch when I got home (It was vampire hunter D). We did the mandarin test and nothing made sense because half of it was listening to difficult order and I knew none of the words on the reading or how to answer the question in the first place.
Then I thought, I have wasted 12 hours of my vastly important life doing this, and I’m going to waste more by going to a test, on a day where I could be working and getting paid for it. Then I had another thought. The only way that I could possibly justify this wasted time was by passing the test, and thus obsessive revision began.
Here’s some advice if you ever want to pass a languages listening or reading without any knowledge at all: Look up the vocab you need to know and learn it. You don’t need to know how to form a sentence, just enough words to get you by. Then load the whole list of words into memrise and learn them all.
It was through this that I was able to learn a huge amount of the vocab needed to pass in such a short amount of time.
Then the next thing you do is past papers, I did about four of them. What I soon learned was that you hardly needed to know any Chinese at all to pass. I would listen to complete gibberish but notice one word that I knew and get the question right. Most questions were like this. I didn’t even need to know the word for the reading, I would just recognize the symbol and put it in the correct place. Also if someone asks a question with “ma” at the end the only two possible matches are yes and no, meaning whole questions could be answered knowing this fact.
So all in all, I’m a genius who hacked the system and passed a Chinese test without actually knowing any Chinese at all.
But there is still more to get too!
My audio became de-synced from the normal audio half way through and it just ended where I didn’t listen to the whole thing. I had to stay behind to finish the test so basically everyone had gone by the time I arrived and I had no idea how well people had done.
After this a lot of people sent complaint emails to the school about not just everything here but the fact that our teacher didn’t show up to see how we did on the test. I’m not complaining because she would have been the last person I wanted to see at the end of my exam but a lot of people had a problem with it.
Anyway it’s over a month later and none of these emails have been responded too. It’s pretty terrible honestly. On the plus side I just got my Mandarin result today and it was a pass with 167/200! So I’m pretty happy with that sudden turn around!
So yeah that’s the long story that took place over the last couple of months, and the trip was going to be why I needed to take such a long heiatus from blogging so I can now say that my break will be a lot shorter. For some reason I’ve been doing nothing but blogging recently and have a whole week of bonus content scheduled anyway so I guess I’m just a workaholic! E.G I did five hours of revision today, went to school and made two blog posts, I’m also planning on writing the Lupin the third blog post next.
What do you think of this whole thing? And would you enjoy more stories like this because I can guarantee you for a fact that they exist.
Also sorry Zainou to postponing the Lupin review for a day, that will be next I promise!