China to reform Chinese proficiency test for non-native speakers

The Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK — Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi) for non-native speakers is to be reformed with new tests focusing more on comprehensive language ability and communication skills, the HSK center announced Thursday.

“The reformed HSK will be launched in 2007 with an oral test and essay writing section added,” said Sun Dejin, director of the HSK Center of Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU).

The HSK center decided to reduce the former 11 grades of HSK test to three grades: elementary, intermediate and advanced, Sun said.

“In April, 2007, both the old and new HSK tests will be held together and examinees can choose one or both,” Sun said, stressing the new HSK test would completely replace the old one in 2008.”

The HSK center would provide examinees with information on the new test, Sun said.

“The reform is based on research and surveys, including studies of linguistics and psychology as well as communication with foreign experts,” Sun said.

The HSK is a national standardized test to assess the Chinese language proficiency of non-native speakers including foreigners, overseas Chinese and students of China’s ethnic minorities.

Designed by the BLCU in 1984 and launched abroad in 1991, the test is offered in 87 cities in 35 countries and regions. To date, about 1.3 million examinees have sat the test.

Chinese is growing in popularity throughout the world, according to the Chinese National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language.

An official from the office predicted last September that about 100 million foreigners would learn Chinese by 2010.

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