As I talked about in my last post, I realized this past month that I don’t think I’ll be able to pass the TOCFL in November unless I really buckle down and prepare for it. So from now until then all of my studying apart from 文言文 will be aimed to that end. So I’ve changing up some of what I’m doing (I think I say that every month). But first, last month’s goals:

1) Finish Thought and Society through Lesson 7

Got through Lesson 5. I still have time to finish by the time the next term starts though, and that was my real underlying goal for this book.

2) Spend an hour on 文言文 per day, reading texts with the group and otherwise.

Not quite, though I have read the texts for the group every week. We’ve read some really fun, interesting things in the group, and my 文言文 has improved a lot because of it. Come join us at The Grand 文言文 Reading Project over at chinese-forums.

3) Continue reading newspapers, magazines, websites, 《文字學概要》, etc.

For now I’m doing more work with my textbooks, which leaves less time for this stuff. Hopefully once I get into the swing of my new routine (which includes a new location and much longer commute), I’ll have more time for this.

4) Read at least one article per week from The Independent Reader.

I put this aside at the beginning of the month. Picked it back up at the end. So I read one article.

5) Assimil Japanese through Lesson 30 (yeah, same as last month).

I put this aside so I could focus on the TOCFL. I’ll pick it back up once I pass, but for now it’s worth putting on the back burner.


I don’t think there’s been a month this year that I haven’t changed or gotten rid of at least some of the goals before the month was over. That’s OK. As long as I’m making progress with my Chinese, that’s the important thing. Nobody cares what chapters I’ve read in my textbooks, they only care about my ability in Chinese.

Anyway, I’ve been trying to focus on studying materials that I think will directly help me pass the TOCFL. There is a serious lack of TOCFL prep resources out there, so I’ve had to rely on previous experience with the test at MTC and what other people have told me about the particular level I’ll be taking. It seems like the listening section is stuffed with “advanced” vocabulary to the point of being unnatural and stilted. The closest thing I can get to that is news broadcasts, so I’m using Media Chinese now and will be using News and Views starting next month. Those are two ICLP courses for which I have audio. I don’t have the book for Media Chinese, but there hasn’t been anything so far that I can’t understand after working with the audio a bit, so that’s no problem. They sell the book for News and Views at Lucky Bookstore, but it’s useless without the audio, which I don’t think you can get anywhere except ICLP, so I don’t really know what the point is. I’m also reviewing Mini Radio Plays, because I was terrible about reviewing it and have forgotten much of the vocabulary in that book.

Anyway, for reading I’ll be reviewing newspaper articles I’ve read in class this term, and using The Independent Reader. I think I’ve said this before, but if you don’t have this book yet and you’re reading at an “advanced” level (Thought and Society or higher), buy this book. It’s outstanding. For now I’m reading it to learn the vocabulary, but later I’ll be using it to practice skimming. Everyone I’ve talked to about the test has said the hardest thing about the reading section was finishing in time. Reading the question first and then only reading enough of the article to find an answer will help a lot. The fact that the book has 52 articles is great, because it gives me lots of practice material. And then I can always go back later to study the article for real.

My plan for preparing for the exam is broken up into three phases, more or less broken up by month. I won’t go into detail here, but here are my goals for August:

1) Thought and Society through Lesson 9
2) Finish reviewing Mini Radio Plays
3) Review 10-15 newspaper articles from class
4) Media Chinese through Lesson 6
5) The Independent Reader, 10 articles (first article from sections 1-10)