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A Complete Guide to A Level Chinese (H1) in Singapore by Our Top A Level Chinese Tutors

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The Complete Guide to A Level Chinese in Singapore

Chinese has always been a difficult subject for most students due to their English-speaking background. Furthermore, with the increased workload at A Level standard, students are less motivated to focus on their H1 Chinese as opposed to their other H2 and H1 core subjects.  Apart from their increased workload, H1 Chinese students are also expected to take their A Level Chinese examination at the end of their JC1 year, leaving them extremely little time to build a strong foundation in H1 Chinese.

1. An Overview to A Level Chinese

Under the A Level curriculum, it is compulsory for students to take A Level H1 Chinese if they have not taken Higher Chinese at O Level standard, or received an E8 or lower during their O Level Higher Chinese examination. Thereafter, students taking H1 Chinese will need to achieve an S (subpass) grade or better in their A Level Chinese for local university admission. Excelling in A Level Chinese poses a challenge for many students due to the need for a good foundation in the Chinese language, as well as the skills required to write well and analyse texts. Therefore, it is crucial that students have a solid foundation of the language from their years of Primary and Secondary education, as H1 Chinese serves as a building block to help students hone their Chinese literary skills at a higher level, preparing them for their further education.

In addition, given the increased importance in Chinese language as a form of communication in recent years due to the rise in the Chinese market in the global economy, Chinese has become more of an essential communication skill as opposed to a mere subject studied. In addition, in order to qualify for local university admission, students have to achieve a subpass (S grade). 

Even as challenging as A Level Chinese may sound, with the correct studying habits and guidance, students can definitely do well for it. If you require additional help in the language, why not engage in MindFlex’s Chinese Tuition? We have over 9,000 experienced A Level Chinese Tutors, ranging from part-time tutors to native speakers who are 100% dedicated to helping you ace your A Level H1 Chinese examination!

2. Objectives of A Level Chinese

Under the H1 Chinese syllabus, the goal of the course is to strengthen students’ listening, speaking, reading, writing and language integration at a tertiary standard, allowing students to communicate effectively with others.

Students should hence be able to:

  • Understand and infer information from daily conversations, discussions, broadcasts and media related to daily life and current affairs topics
  • Describe experiences or express opinions on life and current affairs topics fluently, clearly and methodically, with use of rich vocabulary and differing sentence structures in order to supplement arguments and highlight key points
  • Understand reading materials (ranging from magazines, newspapers, authentic corpus and literary texts) related to life and current affairs, and infer the implicit meaning
  • Describe in written words with a rich vocabulary and different sentence patterns according to the topic, situation or experience
  • Communicate with people fairly fluently on life and current affairs and respond to views put forth by the other party, effectively engaging in fluent discussion/exchange
  • Communicate effectively using a range of platforms (blogs, social media) with appropriate language and expression

More information can be found under the SEAB Syllabus.

3. A Level Chinese Exam Format

A Level Chinese consists of 2 papers – namely the Paper 1 (Writing & Comprehension) and Paper 2 (Oral & Listening). 

A Level Chinese Infographic

Here’s a bird’s eye view of what the A Level Chinese exam entails!

3.1. Paper 1 (Essay & Comprehension)

Part 1 (Writing/写作)
60 marks, 1 hour 30 mins
In this section, students are required to choose 1 question out of the 4 provided and write an essay (500 words and above) following the theme or topic of the question chosen. Possible topics/themes include narrative, explanatory, argumentative and picture essay. Students are allowed the use of a SEAB-approved Chinese dictionary.

Part 2 (Comprehension/语文理解与应用)
80 marks, 1 hour 30 mins

Section A: Fill In The Blanks – 综合填空
20 marks, 10 questions
This section requires students to fill in the blanks within the passage. Students have to read and interpret the passage, and choose the most appropriate answer.

Section B: Comprehension 1 – 阅读理解(一)
20 marks, 6 questions
In this section, students are required to select the most appropriate answer based on the content within the 1-2 short passages provided. Passages in the section that students will examine will include advertisements, flyers, news reports etc.

Section C: Comprehension 2 – 阅读理解(二)
40 marks, 9 questions
Students are expected to answer the questions accordingly based on the passage in the section. There will also be a summary question in this section, where students are expected to summarise the passage provided into no more than 70 words.

3.1.1 Challenges Faced in Paper 1

The essay and comprehension section of every language paper remains as the toughest aspect of any language subject. Students often struggle with putting forth their ideas, both in the essay and comprehension section as many still find it difficult to toggle between English and Chinese. Hence, more often than not, students tend to think in English before attempting to translate their thoughts into Chinese and penning them down. While effective, it is extremely time-consuming, leading to bad time management during the Paper 1 components. 

3.1.2. How To Score in Paper 1

At A Level Chinese standard, it is highly encouraged for students to build upon any misconceptions in order to sustain a strong foundation in the language. This can be in the form of reading more and being exposed to more Chinese-related content. In addition, in order to improve on their idea generation for the Essay component, students are encouraged to expose themselves to more question types and practise writing essays of different themes or topics. It is also effective for students to read extensively on model essays in order to absorb the various writing styles, vocabulary etc. that they can use in their future essays. Above all else, it can also be beneficial to get extra guidance as language is something that can not be easily picked up by oneself. Hence, students should also consider engaging an A Level Chinese tutor!

3.2. Paper 2 (Oral & Listening)

Oral (口试)
50 marks, 10-15 mins
Before the exam, students are given 10 minutes to watch the short video (55 to 60 seconds) and prepare an oral report. Students can watch the video clips multiple times within a limited time, and can also jot down the main points.

Part 1: Oral Report – 口头报告
20 marks
Students are expected to combine the contents of the video clips according to the topics provided, and then present an oral report of no more than 2 minutes.

Part 2: Discussion – 讨论
30 marks
Following the student’s oral report, the examiner will ask questions pertaining to the report, where students are expected to engage in a discussion with the examiner.

Listening Comprehension (听力理解)
10 marks, 30 mins
Examination will include a paragraph, short dialogue and 3 comprehension chapters, with a total of 10 MCQs. Students are to listen to the recording first before answering the questions.
The content of the examination includes daily conversations, broadcasts, interviews, stories, news reports, etc.

3.2.1 Challenges Faced in Paper 2

Many students tend to overlook the components in Paper 2, choosing to focus on Paper 1 instead. However, if done well, Paper 2 can serve as a boost for their H1 Chinese grades. Under the Oral component, students often have a difficult time synthesising a coherent, 2 minute report that is both coherent and comprehensive. The 10 minutes provided to watch the video might also not be enough for students to gather enough points for their report or to structure their main points in complete sentences. Similarly, for the Listening Comprehension component under Paper 2, students usually overlook this portion, thinking it is an easy paper to score. However, students need to ensure that they are confident in achieving full marks for this section in order to maximise their chances of doing well in the A Level Chinese examination – which might be difficult due to the tricky questions that might be posed during the examination. Furthermore, given the tight time constraint during the Listening Comprehension examination, students might misread the MCQs, resulting in them selecting the wrong answers.

3.2.2. How To Score in Paper 2

In order to do well for both the Oral and Listening component, students should aim to expose themselves to more Chinese-related content, whether it is through listening to Chinese media or reading up on more Chinese content. Students should also ensure that they get sufficient practise in their Oral component, ensuring that they are able to get a coherent and fluent Oral Report prepared within the time limit. 

4. A Level Chinese Tips and Resources

In order to do well at A Level Chinese, students are required to achieve content mastery of the A Level Chinese syllabus, and maintain a strong foundation. To help with this, MindFlex has compiled a list of key study tips and free resources, perfect for helping students in their A Level Chinese journey.

4.1. A Level Chinese Tips

4.1.1. Increase Exposure To Chinese Language

It is no secret that the key to improving one’s Chinese lies in regular exposure. This can be done through multiple ways – watching Chinese media, reading up on more Chinese content or immersing oneself into the language and culture. MindFlex’s suggestion is to read at least 2-3 Chinese novels or model essays a month, together with other consistent exposure such as watching the news in Chinese or reading Chinese newspapers. By repeated exposure, students will be more attuned to the vocabulary, grammar and sentence structures, allowing them to integrate such language skills into their own examination answers. 

4.1.2. Practise Chinese Regularly

Serving as a follow up to the first point, students should also aim to practise regularly. This can be done in the form of conversing in Chinese, whether with family or friends, and practising writing or practice papers regularly. Through this, students will become more attuned to the language, allowing the various sentence structures and specific grammar/vocabulary to come easier to them during the A Level Chinese Oral. In addition, with frequent, targeted exam paper practice, students will be exposed to more vocabulary and question types – which will help them to greatly improve in their Chinese.

4.1.3. Get Regular Practice Under Timed Conditions

Another common issue faced by students is time management, especially during examinations. Students often struggle with putting together coherent ideas and writing them down during their essay writing component, resulting in haphazard points and increased careless mistakes. Without proper time management, students will also not be able to plan out their essay properly, resulting in a less cohesive essay. Similarly, in the Comprehension section of Paper 1, students often get stuck within the first few sections of the paper, leaving little to no time for the last part (Comprehension 2), which has the largest mark allocation. Hence, it is definitely beneficial for students if they are able to get more exam practice under timed conditions in order to simulate the A Level exam setting. This way, they are exposed to the intensity, and will be able to understand the speed and accuracy needed in order to ace their H1 Chinese examination.

4.1.4. Seek Additional Help Early

Lastly, it is no secret that languages can not be learnt within days, or even months. Therefore, students need to start early and put in consistent effort in order to do well in their A Level Chinese. Tackling A Level Chinese can be difficult if not armed with the essential skills and guided help. In addition, given the immense workload faced by JC students, students might not be motivated to work hard for A Level Chinese as they only need to get an S grade to be considered for local university admission. Hence, getting a MindFlex A Level Chinese Tutor might come in handy. Our A Level Chinese Tutors are trained and more than qualified to guide students in their mastery of the Chinese language. They have a wealth of resources and experience – either from taking the A Level Chinese themselves, or having taught in JCs prior to them becoming Home Tutors. 

4.2. A Level Chinese Resources

Apart from our A Level Chinese tips, we’ve also put together a list of resources to help students in their A Level Chinese preparation! These resources include quality assessment and guide books as well as free online resources.

4.2.1. A-Level H1 Chinese Trial Examinations

As mentioned above, getting enough practice is crucial in ensuring that students will be able to perform well during their A Level Chinese examinations. This assessment book is perfect for extra practice in students’ own free time. All trial examination papers in this book strictly follows SEAB’s examination guidelines, so students can be rest assured that their practice will not be wasted.

A Level Chinese Assessment Book

This assessment book is great for students who would like extra practice for their A Level Chinese examination.

4.2.2. A-Level Compositions

A-Level Compositions is a handy guidebook with model compositions for students’ reference. With this, students will be able to read up more and be exposed to various different question types, be it argumentative, explanatory or narrative. Through frequent studying, students will also be able to pick up interesting phrases or sentence structures that they can employ during their A Level Chinese examination.

A Level Chinese Composition Assessment Book

Most students struggle with writing good essays – hence this book can help with students’ A Level Chinese Compositions!

4.2.3. A-Level Vocabulary

A key challenge faced by many students is the inability to grasp new vocabulary, or lack the avenues to learn new vocabulary, resulting in them sticking to the same few vocabulary during their Paper 1 Composition writing. A-Level Vocabulary hence serves as a handy guidebook for students who’d like to diversify their Chinese vocabulary bank. 

A Level Chinese Vocabulary Book

This A Level Chinese Vocabulary book serves as an essential vocabulary bank for students, and it is great for improving on essays!

4.2.4. Popular And Commonly Tested Vocabulary For A-Level H1 Chinese

Following the previous guidebook recommendation, this useful book also serves as an enrichment for students who would like to improve their vocabulary. The book contains a wide range of vocabulary ranging from nouns and verbs to even idioms – all of which will come in handy for students during their examinations.

A Level Chinese Vocabulary

With this guidebook, students will be exposed to the popular vocabularies used in A Level Chinese.

4.2.5. Free A Level Chinese Notes

Since Chinese relies heavily on content knowledge and skills, having an extra, consolidated set of notes can be extremely useful, especially for those struggling right before the examinations. SGExams is a community site that relies on students’ uploads of their notes and resources. From there, students can browse through their massive selection of students’ notes and download the ones they are interested in.

Download free A Level Chinese notes here.

4.2.6. Free A Level Chinese Exam Papers

Want to practise more but have no available resources? Not to worry! Here at MindFlex, we’ve collated a list of free A Level Chinese exam papers that are available for download. 

Download the A Level Chinese papers here.

4.2.7. A Level Chinese Tuition

If you’d like some additional help, engaging in effective tuition classes can serve as useful guidance! Furthermore, with tuition classes, students are able to get personalised feedback, which is especially useful for sections such as essay writing; which does not have a clear cut answer scheme. Hence, MindFlex has collated a list of A Level Chinese Tuition Centres that can help to improve your A Level Chinese grades!

View our A Level Chinese Tuition Recommendations here.

4.2.8. MindFlex 1-To-1 Chinese Tuition

If group tuition in tuition centres doesn’t suit you, why not try out home tutoring? Here at MindFlex, we have a large database of over 9,000 Chinese Tutors who are qualified and dedicated to the language. They are experienced and are able to personalise their lesson plans to directly target the student’s weak areas!

5. Conclusion

Given that the A Level Chinese syllabus is only a 1 year programme, students should definitely strive to put in more effort and do well for their A Level Chinese, since they do not have to worry about their other A Level subjects as much yet. A good grade in A Level Chinese will help to motivate students to do even better for other subjects during their JC2 year! 

Academic results aside, learning Chinese should definitely be an enjoyable process for students. Students should aim not solely to get an A grade in Chinese, but rather, to engage in a holistic learning process that helps to enrich their thinking and promote their appreciation for the language and the culture. Through this, students will then be able to learn the correct mindsets and transferable study skills that will be beneficial in helping them do well in their future studies.

At MindFlex, our A Level Chinese Tutors are dedicated and have immense passion for both the Chinese language and for teaching. Our tutors place heavy emphasis on holistic education that goes beyond just the A Level Chinese syllabus. Rather, they strive to impart real-life, transferable skills that can benefit students in their future studies or in their other A Level subjects.

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