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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Memrise

Have you heard of Memrise? If you’re into studying languages online, you probably have. It’s basically a fancier version of Anki (I talked about it in previous posts) with additional incentives to keep you continue studying. Every time you get a word correct, you get points. After collecting a certain amount of points, you get a badge as a reward that can be seen by other users as well when they check your profile. There is also a leaderboard showing who got the most points (in this week, this month or in total) which can only be seen by your Memrise friends.

Memrise offers incredibly many courses, not only on languages but other topics as well. A lot of courses offer audio (though most of the times it’s only some odd computer voice) and what’s best is that Memrise shows you memes (actually written “mems” in imitation of Memrise) of other users to remember a certain word.

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Here is one I made for a Korean word. If you like someone else’s mem, you can give them a thumbs up (I only got one… insolence!!).

I’ve been using Memrise a lot more often than Anki now. It’s visually more appealing and collecting points is actually a great way to keep up the motivation for studying (Can’t wait to get my next badge!). I must add that I use the Memrise app rather than the homepage (there’s no countdown in the app when you’re studying). And I got the pro version on a discount (a year’s subscription for 20 €). The pro version analyzes your study habits and offers a few more features. But it’s really not necessary to go pro, so you can enjoy a great learning tool completely for free.

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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