I am pleased to announce that I took and passed the HSK Level 3 Chinese proficiency test (600 characters). I am now studying for Level 4 (1200 characters). I've been plugging away at Chinese for the past decade. I have some accomplishments. (I was the first to publish English translations of the first and second drafts of the new Chinese tort law later enacted. That work has been used by scholars writing about development of Chinese law, and enabled me to aid plaintiffs in Wultz v. Bank of China who alleged that loose practices at the Bank of China helped finance the terrorists who bombed a Jerusalem cafe. And it has enabled me to develop bilingual slides for my lectures last year comparing oil sill compensation in the U.S. and China. But fluency and literacy have a long way to go. So I decided to try to make measurable progress by taking the HSK test of Chinese language proficiency.
The HSK is organized by Hanban which explains:
The new HSK is an international standardized exam that tests and rates Chinese language proficiency. It assesses non-native Chinese speakers’ abilities in using the Chinese language in their daily, academic and professional lives. HSK consists of six levels, namely the HSK (level I), HSK (level II), HSK (level III), HSK (level IV), HSK (level V), and HSK (level VI).Test takers who are able to pass the HSK (Level III) can communicate in Chinese at a basic level in their daily, academic and professional lives. They can manage most communication in Chinese when travelling in China.Test takers who are able to pass the HSK (Level IV) can converse in Chinese on a wide range of topics and are able to communicate fluently with native Chinese speakers.Test takers who are able to pass the HSK (Level V) can read Chinese newspapers and magazines, enjoy Chinese films and plays, and give a full-length speech in Chinese.Test takers who are able to pass the HSK (Level VI) can easily comprehend written and spoken information in Chinese and can effectively express themselves in Chinese, both orally and on paper.
Obviously I have a long way to go. But I can affirm that you don't have to be young to start learning Chinese. It requires persistence, no doubt. But it is a revelation as the language,uterly impenetrable at first, opens up to you step by step.