Repeat after me: quizzes are not the enemy!
Our grade school days may have taught us to dread quizzes, which seemed designed only to call out our mistakes. As language learners, though, we need to reframe quizzes as our best accountability partners.
This mindset applies whether we are self-studying or taking classes; it applies whether we are beginners or near-native speakers. By taking quizzes, and by treating them as low-stakes opportunities for growth, we can identify both our areas for improvement and our strengths.
By interspersing our learning with regular quizzes—for instance, on a biweekly or monthly basis—we can motivate ourselves to work towards a mini-goal while staying on a consistent schedule.
How Can I Use Online Quizzes to Strengthen My Chinese?
As we have learned above, we can use assessments to create a fuller picture of our language proficiency landscape. But how do we know which type of quizzes to incorporate into our study plans?
Choosing the right quiz requires knowing your language learning goals.
Are you working on a tricky grammar pattern? Trying to up your idiom game? Powering through a textbook? Just trying to get a sense of what level you should be studying?
Survey the language learning you have done so far, and picture the next steps you would like to take. Once you have reflected on your intentions, have a look at the five core categories of quizzes below.
No-stress Test Time! Chinese Quizzes from 5 Fantastic Platforms
Mock Proficiency Exams: That’s Mandarin
Proficiency exams help evaluate your Chinese abilities on a standardized scale. The most widely-known offering is the Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK), China’s standardized proficiency test for non-native speakers of Chinese. Taiwan offers a similar exam, the Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language (TOCFL).
For details about the similarities and differences between the two exams, check out TutorMing’s HSK vs. TOCFL article. Results from one of these tests may be required if you wish to study at a Chinese-speaking university, earn a scholarship from the Chinese or Taiwanese government, be hired by a Chinese-speaking company or apply for certain visas.
Beyond these functions, though, proficiency exams are also a useful tool for measuring learning progress. Their standardized questions are a reflection of the range of words and types of sentences and passages a student should be comfortable with to be considered a beginner, intermediate or advanced learner.
If you are ready to dive in, check out That’s Mandarin’s downloadable PDF exams with matching audio files for HSK levels 1-6. Answer keys and answer analyses are linked at the end of each PDF.
If you are looking for comprehensive lessons that culminate in quizzes, look no further than FluentU!
Quizzes can be customized and worked through at your own pace. They will also test the entire gamut of language skill-building: grammar, vocabulary, pinyin, Chinese character recognition and Chinese character input (i.e., typing).
An individual video often includes more than one quiz. This helps learners break up one lesson into digestible pieces, while still ensuring that you gain confidence in each of the key skill areas presented in the lesson before moving on. After completing a mini-quiz, you can see your progress expressed as a score, and as a percentage of the video learned.
When you exit the quiz menu, you will be able to view a list of the vocabulary from a given lesson and a transcript of the dialogue from the same lesson. Next to each word or sentence, you will see an indicator to remind you which items you have already mastered, and which ones you missed on your quiz.
Equipped with this detailed feedback, you can further customize your studying methods to focus on your weaker skill areas.
FluentU’s resources can be sorted by level (e.g., beginner, advanced), topic (e.g., business, humor) and format (e.g., music video, interview). There is something for everyone!
The quizzes on FluentU are a great fit for Chinese learners who want to track their overall progress in language learning and be endlessly entertained.
If you would like to give it a test run before fully committing, FluentU offers a free trial!
Pinyin and Tones: Visual Mandarin
Visual Mandarin’s quizzes are perfect for beginners, advanced beginners or anyone wanting to brush up on the basics.
Quiz options are ordered by level of difficulty and have detailed descriptions.
Just need to practice your four essential tones? Try “Discrimination of Tones, Test 1.”
Having a hard time distinguishing between the zh in zhi and the ch in chi? Take their “Discrimination of Sounds, Test 1.”
Higher-level quizzes will give harder examples to continue pushing you to identify tones, initial sounds, final sounds and tone changes.
These quizzes are conducted exclusively in Pinyin with paired audio, making them a great fit for learners who also need to strengthen their Pinyin recognition skills. The included native-spoken audio will help hone in your listening skills, which will contribute to a more natural speaking accent over time.
Pleco is one of the most popular dictionary apps for Chinese language learners. As a Chinese dictionary, first and foremost, Pleco can easily transform into a robust vocabulary quiz app.
You will need to add the flashcards add-on in the app to access the quiz function. From there, simply browse Pleco’s thousands of dictionary entries, add any entry to your flashcard list and start a quiz!
Flashcard sets can also be mixed together, and you can adjust the settings to test yourself on the Chinese character, pronunciation, definition or a combination of skills. Like many learner-friendly quiz apps, Pleco will place missed words back in your quiz pile to encourage repetition and reinforcement.
Textbook Companion: Quizlet
Quizlet offers crowdsourced quizzes on common topics. This makes Quizlet the perfect platform for learners seeking quizzes that can pair with textbooks and other existing study materials.
One great example is the wide range of quizzes available for the popular “Integrated Chinese” beginner textbooks, such as this quiz on “Integrated Chinese” level 1, part 1.
But Quizlet is not just for beginner students!
Because Quizlet is not a Chinese-specific platform, you will need to put in more work upfront to input the relevant characters, pinyin and definitions. However, this also means that you can customize the content to your exact specifications.
Want to include several example sentences, or note the textbook page number on which your vocabulary word can be found? Add it in!
Don’t see the quiz you want? Make your own and share it with your classmates and study partners!
Quizlet is also a great replacement for Pleco if you do not wish to purchase the Pleco flashcards add-on.
With this diverse array of options, you are well on your way to befriending the humble quiz. By treating self-assessment as an integral part of any study plan, you will be sure to see measurable improvements in no time!
Kelsey Owyang is an educator from California.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Chinese with real-world videos.