Foreigners’ Chinese skills get new gauge

Originally published on China Daily by Zou Shuo. 

China has issued a Chinese language proficiency standard for international learners to evaluate their Chinese language skills and levels in an all-around way and meet the expanding demand for Chinese language learning.

Issued by the Ministry of Education and the State Language Commission, the Standard for Chinese Proficiency in International Chinese Language Education will be implemented from July 1, the ministry said on Wednesday.

The international Chinese language circle had been calling for a set of norms and standards that were scientific, standardized, inclusive, open and easy to implement, to guide all aspects of Chinese language learning, teaching, testing and evaluation, and to improve the quality of education and teaching results, the ministry said in a news release.

The standard classifies the Chinese proficiency of international learners into three stages and nine levels, using four basic elements of the Chinese language: syllables, characters, vocabulary and grammar to evaluate the learners’ abilities, including their listening, speaking, reading, writing and translating and interpreting skills.

Each grade has specific requirements for the amount of syllables, characters, vocabulary and grammar the learner should grasp, as well as requirements for their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills.

For the lowest grade 1, learners should master 269 syllables, 300 characters, a 500-word vocabulary and 48 grammar points. They should also be able to understand an 80-character conversation, know basic oral expressions, read 100-character material and write 100 characters.

For the highest grade 9, learners should know 1,110 syllables, 3,000 characters, have a 11,092-word vocabulary and 572 grammar points. They should also understand 800-character materials at a normal or relatively fast speed, have accurate pronunciation, read 240 characters per minute, write all kinds of essays, including dissertations, and be capable of professional translating and interpreting.

The standard applies to learning, teaching, testing and evaluation in international Chinese language education and provides a normative reference for all kinds of schools, institutions and enterprises, the ministry said.

It will become the basis of international Chinese language examinations, provide reference for the curriculum design, textbook compilation, classroom teaching and testing of international Chinese education around the world, and provide an important basis for the construction of various new models and platforms of international Chinese education, it added.

The Chinese language has been incorporated into the national education systems of more than 75 countries, according to the ministry’s Center for Language Education and Cooperation.

More than 4,000 overseas universities now offer Chinese language courses and some 25 million people are learning Chinese outside China, the center said.

The HSK exams, a test of Chinese language proficiency organized by the center, were transferred online last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and were taken by more than 70,000 people, the center said. The six levels of exams will be expanded to nine to reflect the new standard, the center said.

In 2019, 7.5 million people took different Chinese language proficiency tests, up by 10.3 percent from a year earlier, data from the center showed.




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