You're taking NCEA Chinese, and you're starting to worry that you don't know enough to pass? Never fear; we're going to talk you down from the panic attack and explain how using the past exam papers can really help you pass NCEA Chinese – no matter what level you're doing.
Where to find Past Exam Papers for NCEA Chinese
The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) website is a wealth of resources to help you pass your NCEA Chinese exams. You'll find past exam papers as well as the audio and transcripts that have been used for previous years. https://www.nzqa.govt.nz/ncea/subjects/chinese/levels/
What's even better is that you will also see assessor reports and commentary of what students did well and what students need help with. But perhaps the most helpful resource is the examples of actual exams completed by students and marked by assessors, with a commentary on what they did well and what they could have done better.
A lot of the information on the NZQA website is more relevant to your teacher to ensure they are teaching the current requirements. However, when you start working with a tutor, these can also be invaluable resources to ensure that they know the current standards for this year and help you achieve these.
Mastering Chinese Vocabulary Easily
The expected vocabulary for each NCEA level is also on the NZQA website. At level 1 and level 2, you have around 300 vocabulary words to memorise and about 150 at level 3. It can seem overwhelming when you first start but create your flashcards, start modelling in clay, or just write down a list of ten words on a post-it note.
The key to memorising new vocabulary is to refer to it often. You need to see the word, hear the word and speak the word. Use your target words in a sentence – even if you are only using the single word of Chinese in an otherwise English or Māori sentence.
To learn Chinese characters, you can also add an extra dimension by creating a 'colouring in' letter to help you solidify the meaning and shape of the character by associating it with a colour.
The biggest thing to remember is that you need repetition. Just as when you were first learning to read English, you would have encountered the same words over and over again until they were fixtures in your memory.
However, unlike English, Chinese is not a phonetic language. The characters you are learning do not have a 'sound' value like you find in English. So you really do just have to memorise each character, its sound, and its meaning. You can use "pinyin" to associate each Chinese character with a phonetic representation like we are used to in English. This is only suitable for the Beijing dialect of Chinese, but this is primarily what you will be encountering in NCEA Chinese, so it works well.
As well as basic vocabulary, you will need to learn a range of Chinese idioms. An idiom is a phrase where you know all the words, but combining them means something different. In English, examples of idioms are "Every cloud has a silver lining" or "Give someone the cold shoulder", or more Kiwi phrases like "Sweet as". If you translate these literally, you'll have little idea of the actual meaning.
路顺风 Safe journey! (A literal translation is loosely wind on the road)
岁岁平安 Have a safe and peaceful year! (Happy New Year!)
好好学习，天天向上 Study properly and make progress every day.
Being able to fluently understand and appropriately use idioms in your exams will generally be an excellent way to show you in-depth knowledge of Chinese. This is particularly important if you are hoping for financial reward from NCEA Chinese Scholarship. Just don't think that you can throw in a saying randomly! The idea is to show that you have fluency, not that you have memorised a significant number of idioms and catchphrases.
Hints in NCEA Chinese with Assessment Schedules
You have access to the assessment schedules via the NZQA website. These provide guidelines for assessors into what they should be looking for to award grades. Because these are provided for past exams in NCEA Chinese, you can use these after you have worked through an exam to see if you have achieved the standard you expected.
If you are able to work with a Chinese tutor with experience in NCEA, then the assessment schedules can become an invaluable tool for helping you achieve an Excellence standard.
The assessment schedule offers a question from the exam, then analyses different answers that would have achieved different standards. For example:
- Question a) Possible evidence showing understanding of William's learning experiences in China and New Zealand
To meet expectations of achievement, a student would include in their answer comments such as:
- William attended a school in Beijing.
- He gets up earlier.
- The teacher speaks quickly.
- William can listen to and speak more Chinese.
- He has lots of homework
In New Zealand:
- William's home is not far away from school.
- The teacher speaks slowly.
- William doesn't speak Chinese at home.
While to reach Achievement with Merit additional detail would be included, such as:
- Although the teacher speaks quickly, which can be challenging, William has more opportunities to use Chinese.
- He has a lot of homework to do and has not time to play football with his friends.
In New Zealand:
- The teacher speaks slowly, so it is easier for William to understand.
- He has more time to play football and run with his friends.
- William does not have anyone to speak Chinese with when he gets home, so he cannot practise Chinese
And to take it up to Achievement with Excellence a student would use more inference, not just explaining the differences but show an increased ability to draw conclusions, such as
- He finds it easier to improve his Chinese while living in China.
You can work through all the exams and use the assessor's schedules to consider how you could improve the answers that you give. If you are lucky, your school teacher may be able to provide feedback on your practice exams. However, the best option for most students is to hire a specialist teacher.
What Will A Good Chinese Tutor Do?
The rate that tutors charge can vary greatly, depending on whether they are qualified teachers, their experience level, and their availability. Most expensive doesn't always mean the best tutor for your needs, just as the cheapest tutor may not always provide value for money. So, before looking for a tutor, make sure you know what you need their help with.
Some of the questions you can ask:
- What is your experience in teaching Chinese?
- What is your experience with NCEA Chinese?
- Have you ever been an exam assessor?
- What level of student do you prefer to teach?
As well as the more obvious questions like rates, travel/location, missed classes, timetable and so on.
If you are trying to find a tutor off a social media site like Facebook, make sure that you meet them in a neutral public location such as a public library and/or have a video call first. You won't have access to reviews and ratings like you do when you work with a Superprof tutor. Using social media, you are more limited to who you can work with than having worldwide access to tutors with Superprof.
With New Zealanders being famous for their love of travel, even amid a global pandemic, you will find Superprof tutors who are qualified tutors, experienced with NCEA Chinese based all over the globe. While this means you won't always get in-person tuition, it does make it easier to find schedules that will work for you both.
Understanding the NCEA Chinese Exam Format
Currently, there are five assessment areas for NCEA Chinese at each level, with Level 3 assessments being more advanced than Level 1. You will have three internal assessment areas and two external assessments (exams).
External: Demonstrate understanding of a variety of spoken Chinese texts
You will listen to a passage in Chinese three times. Take notes of key points in the passage. You can practice this by using exams and recordings from previous years.
External: Demonstrate understanding of a variety of Chinese texts
You are given a resource book with a range of different texts written in Chinese characters. Your examination answers require you to go through the appropriate text and respond. Both resource booklets and exam questions for previous years are available to download.
- Give a spoken presentation in Chinese
- Interact using spoken Chinese
- Write a variety of text types in Chinese
While your teacher will be working with you to help you achieve the internal assessment, you will also find a wealth of information on the Chinese NCEA TKI website, which can be helpful to show your tutor.
The best advice is to practice, practice, practice. To practice your spoken presentation, record yourself, or practice in front of the mirror. You want to be as natural and coherent as possible. Find a conversational partner to practise speaking with, and to practise writing in Chinese first practice reading everything you can get your hands on.
The best advice to passing your NCEA Chinese assessments is to start early and just keep finding opportunities to practice. 祝你好運!
The platform that connects tutors and students