A Guide to the Usage of HSK Vocabulary

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Oh, I love this one so much! It helps you learn how a word can be used and which grammatical constructions are possible with this word.

Main entries are given with pinyin (not included for example sentences) featuring parts of speech (nouns are followed by their most commonly used measure words!) as well as their English translations.

All usage notes are in Chinese only without pinyin but grammatical terms are translated and also explained in the preface. So instead of going back and forward in the book, I recommend making a copy of this list of grammatical terms to put it right next to you to facilitate reading. It’s a reference book, so again no exercises included.

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I got this one in China but you can also get it through websites offering Chinese language products (e.g. http://www.chinabooks.ch).

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Short-term Listening Chinese

If you’re struggling with your listening comprehension, this textbook series will do wonders for you! It comes with an mp3-CD and an answer key at the end of each volume (The answer key is printed upside down, so you will have to turn around your book to read the answers. Pretty cool idea to make cheating tiresome ;)). Each lesson starts with an extensive vocabulary list followed by short explanations (only the volume for elementary has English translations of these explanations as well) on grammar points. It has a variety of listening exercises with increasing difficulty.

On a side note, you may have heard of its more famous counterpart Short-term Spoken Chinese that is widely used by language courses in China to teach colloquial Chinese (the Boya textbook series uses more formal language).

Brushing Up Your Vocabulary for HSK

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I love this textbook series! I never found them on Chinese language books websites, so in the end I got them in China. This series covers the HSK vocabulary from Beginner till Advanced level (I also own the two volumes of the Beginner level but they’re not relevant to me anymore). It’s alphabetically sorted (which is a bit of a downside, imagine learning six characters pronounced “fan” in a row and trying not to confuse their meanings) and every page on the left lists around 10 to 15 entries and on the right side are the corresponding exercises. The first exercise is about filling in the blanks with the words you just learnt. The second exercise often shows two or three words that can be easily confused as they have similar meanings but are used differently. The third exercise shows a few sentences and you have to choose the corresponding usage explanation. It also comes with an answer key at the end of each volume.

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