Bible and Chinese history (Su Dongpo & Ecclesiastes)

Quite rare to read an excellent article in the Daily Bread (daily biblical stories) with links to Chinese history. I really enjoyed reading this article by Poh Fang Chia. This clearly shows that Christianity is compatible with Chinese culture.

The poem by Su Dongpo referenced is 《水调歌头·明月几时有》, namely the most famous lines:

人有悲欢离合,月有阴晴圆缺,此事古难全。但愿人长久,千里共婵娟。

The entire poem is much longer, but most people just refer to these 5 lines. The classic song that encapsulates this poem is the one sung by Teresa Teng:

Source: Our Daily Bread (July 15 2020)

Su Dongpo (also known as Su Shi) was one of China’s greatest poets and essayists. While in exile and gazing upon a full moon, he wrote a poem to describe how much he missed his brother. “We rejoice and grieve, gather and leave, while the moon waxes and wanes. Since times of old, nothing remains perfect,” he writes. “May our loved ones live long, beholding this beautiful scene together though thousands of miles apart.”

His poem carries themes found in the book of Ecclesiastes. The author, known as the Teacher (1:1), observed that there’s “a time to weep and a time to laugh . . . a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing” (3:4-5). By pairing two contrasting activities, the Teacher, like Su Dongpo, seems to suggest that all good things must inevitably come to an end.

As Su Dongpo saw the waxing and waning of the moon as another sign that nothing remains perfect, the Teacher also saw in creation God’s providential ordering of the world He’d made. God oversees the course of events, and “He has made everything beautiful in its time” (v. 11).

Life may be unpredictable and sometimes filled with painful separations, but we can take heart that everything takes place under God’s gaze. We can enjoy life and treasure the moments—the good and the bad—for our loving God is with us.

By Poh Fang Chia

REFLECT & PRAY
Thank You, loving Father, for watching over all seasons of my life. Help me to trust in You and enjoy the life You’ve given me.

What are some things you’re afraid to try because of life’s unpredictability? How can you lean on Jesus as you step forward in courage to forge new friendships and deepen relationships?

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT
The book of Ecclesiastes is a book for a postmodern world. The “Preacher,” whom many believe was Solomon, speaks of the frustrations and disappointments of life. Two key phrases in the book are “everything is meaningless” (1:1) and “under the sun” (v. 3). The phrase “everything is meaningless” speaks of life lived on human terms and according to the values of this world, which is described by the phrase “under the sun.” In the end, the Preacher says that the answer to this meaninglessness is to look beyond this world and “remember your Creator” (12:1), who is the only source of true meaning in this life.

To learn more about the book of Ecclesiastes, visit The Bible Project, Old Testament Series. Bill Crowder

Original source: https://odb.org/2020/07/15/treasure-the-moments

Chinese Oral O Level 华文口试

Chinese Oral O Level Mark Weightage (O水准华文口试题目分数比重)

The weightage for Chinese Oral for O Level (classified under Paper 3) is quite high, at 25%. The duration of the Chinese Oral exam is only 15-25 minutes in total, hence this short period of time determines quite a lot of marks!

Chinese Oral O Level Topics 华文口试题目

There is a wide variety of topics that can be tested for the Chinese O Level Oral in the “Daily Conversation” section. The old format used to be based on a picture or photograph, but nowadays students view a video clip and answer or discuss questions based on the video clip.

For an extensive discussion of Topics for Chinese Oral (口试话题), check out this page on Chinesetuition88.com. Popular topics are those that are important to Singapore, such as saving water, fake news, inclusive society, and 个人代步工具 PMD (personal mobility device).

Chinese/ Higher Chinese Oral O Level Tips (O水准高级华文口试提示)

Firstly, one common problem for some students is talking too little. Clearly, the content marks is proportional to the amount of relevant content the student says. Hence, ideally, the student should keep talking until the time is up or the teacher says stop. If only a few words are spoken, the content marks cannot be high. This is the same concept as in Chinese composition, basically if the student only writes one page, his/her composition marks will be low.

Secondly, another problem is peppering of the speech with English words like “then”, “but”, or acronyms like MOE. Even names like “Joseph Schooling” should ideally be translated into Chinese (约瑟林). A few of these English words are not fatal, but too many English words would indicate a lack of mastery of Chinese vocabulary. Hence, students are advised to memorize a key list of Chinese terms that have high chance of appearing in Chinese O level exams.

List of Ministries in Singapore (Chinese)

  • 新加坡国防部(Ministry of Defence (MINDEF))
  • 新加坡环境及水源部(Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR))
  • 新加坡教育部(Ministry of Education (MOE))
  • 新加坡律政部(Ministry of Law (MINLAW))
  • 新加坡贸易和工业部(Ministry of Trade and Industry ( MTI))
  • 新加坡人力部(Ministry of Manpower (MOM))
  • 新加坡社会及家庭发展部(Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSFD))
  • 新加坡通讯及新闻部(Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI))
  • 新加坡卫生部(Ministry of Health (MOH))
  • 新加坡总理公署(Prime Minister’s Office)
  • 建屋发展局(Housing and Development Board、简称:HDB)
  • 国家传染病中心(National Centre for Infectious Diseases,简称NCID)
  • 新加坡文化、社区及青年部(Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY))

Lastly, one tip would be to memorize a list of “powerful Chinese idioms and proverbs” (口试好词好句), for instance sayings of Confucius or Tang poetry. If any one of them are used appropriately, it is an instant boost to your vocabulary score and place you in the top 5% of the student cohort. Imagine if a student uses the phrase below correctly, the examiner will be impressed beyond words:

天将降大任于斯人也,必先苦其心志,劳其筋骨,饿其体肤,空乏其身,行拂乱其所为,所以动心忍性,增益其所不能.  In English, Mencius is saying that, “whenever heaven invests a person with great responsibilities, it first exercises his mind with suffering, and his muscles and bones with toil. It exposes his body to hunger, and subjects him to extreme poverty. In this way his patience and endurance are developed and his weakness is overcome.”

A list of 500 proverbs (including many by Confucius) can be found in the book below, in Chinese, Hanyu Pinyin and English translation. The author, Qin Xue Herzberg, is a native speaker of Chinese and a graduate of Beijing Normal University in Chinese Language and Literature.


Chinese Proverbs and Popular Sayings: With Observations on Culture and Language

O level Chinese Oral Marking Scheme, Grading and Format (口试评分标准)

The official information on the O Level Chinese Oral Marking Scheme and Format is found on the SEAB website:

试卷三:口试 10 -15 分钟 50 分/25%

这份试卷包括朗读短文和会话。在考试前,考生有 10 分钟的时间默 读短文和观看录像短片。考生在限定的时间内,可以多次默读短文和 观看录像短片。

第一部分 (Reading):朗读短文 考生必须朗读一个短文。

第二部分 (Conversation):会话 考生针对所提供的录像短片,以及主考员的提问,跟主考员进行一段 对话。

Basically, the Reading portion is 10 marks (5%), while the Conversation portion is 40 marks (20%).

Within the Conversation portion, the official marking scheme does not mention how the marks is broken down, but traditionally it is common that 20 marks (10%) is for Content while another 20 marks (10%) is for Vocabulary/Proper usage of Chinese Language. Alternatively, the 20% could be allocated evenly among the 3 or 4 questions asked (but note the Vocabulary is still important as it contributes to Impression Marks 印象分 that is subconsciously applied by the examiner).

How to Improve Chinese Oral O Level

As mentioned above, the key aspects to improve Chinese Oral (O Level) are in the aspects of Content and Vocabulary.

For Content, students are advised to watch more Chinese television, especially news broadcasts on current affairs. Also, students can read more Chinese newspapers to improve their general knowledge. For example, Dengue Fever is a common O Level Chinese Oral topic, at minimum students should know that Dengue is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes (some students thought that it is transmitted by houseflies).

口试好词好句

For Vocabulary, students should aim and target for speaking in Chinese 100% without usage of English words. To achieve that, a list of common Chinese terminologies should be memorized, especially words that are unique to Singapore (see the list of Singapore ministries listed above). To achieve the highest distinction, students should in addition memorize a list of “powerful” Chinese idioms and proverbs to further improve their vocabulary score.

This book below has over 500 powerful Chinese proverbs in Chinese, Hanyu Pinyin, as well as English translation, including proverbs by Confucius. Proper usage of such proverbs have a high chance of impressing the examiner in Chinese Oral and even Chinese composition.


Chinese Proverbs and Popular Sayings: With Observations on Culture and Language


Do read more on O Level Chinese Oral Tips at:

Motivational: Kung Fu Panda 3 Song

The new Kung Fu Panda 3 song lyrics is out!

Very motivational lyrics. The title itself <Try> is very motivational.

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” ― Robert F. Kennedy

The full lyrics are as follows (includes some Chinese):

Try – 派伟俊/周杰伦
(《功夫熊猫3》电影全球主题曲)
中文词:方文山
英文词:冼佩瑾
曲:派伟俊
小派:You always have to do something
Just to show the world that you exist
So you try
You hope they’ll see
If on this brand new day you’ll look
On the bright side of the same old street
You will see
What you deserve
Jay:Let’s go
我说几华里我送别了过去
他们说人生的结局非常的戏剧
塞外羌笛孤城马蹄
在武侠的世界里谁与谁来为敌
合:La la la la la la la la la
黄沙里用竹笔写下的字叫勇气
Jay:You just have to try
To be who you are
And you ought to fly
Step into the light
小派:And soon you will find
Be yourself
Somewhere deep inside
There’s a universe right there waiting to be unlocked
The key lies in looking into yourself
Jay:Oh Try try try try
Just do what is right
You’ll fly so high
Let go of the brakes
Be who you are
Be yourself ’cause your power is on
合: When you believe in what you’ve got
You know you’re perfect just be who you are
小派:So they don’t see what you’re made of
But I like you and I know they’re wrong
Now it’s time
To show them what you got
Let the blue skies cheer you on
Embrace the wind we’ll ride along
You’re perfect when you’re who you are
Jay:这世界有些事有些人凭感觉
别管他旌旗密布遍野狼烟霜雪
那故事在穿越而我也在翻页
一行行做好准备敏锐而直接
合:La la la la la la la la la
爱不灭真实的一切废话全收回
小派:You just have to try
To be who you are
Jay:And you ought to fly
Step into the light
小派:And soon you will find
Be yourself
Somewhere deep inside
There’s a universe right there waiting to be unlocked
The key lies in looking into yourself
Jay:Oh Try try try try
Just do what is right
You’ll fly so high
Let go of the brakes
合: Be who you are
Be yourself ’cause your power is on
When you believe in what you’ve got
You know you’re perfect just be who you are
小派:You just have to try
To be who you are
Jay:And you ought to fly
Step into the light
小派:And soon you will find
Be yourself
Somewhere deep inside
There’s a universe right there waiting to be unlocked
The key lies in looking into yourself
Jay:Oh Try try try try
Just do what is right
You’ll fly so high
Let go of the brakes

合: Be who you are
Be yourself ’cause your power is on
When you believe in what you’ve got