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English examinations to be unified nationwide

By ZHAO XINYING | China Daily | Updated: 2016-11-14 07:51

Curriculum to be based on standard criteria that tie to global practices

The Ministry of Education is drafting a national English proficiency testing and rating system, an education official said at a symposium in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, over the weekend, according to a local news report.

Lin Huiqing, vice-minister of education, was quoted by Qianjiang Evening News on Sunday as saying at the 2nd International Symposium on Language Assessment and Evaluation that the draft of the rating system has been completed and will be officially released next year, and a detailed plan about the national tests will be carried out step by step before 2020.

In guidelines released in September 2014, the government announced that a better assessment system on foreign languages would be established. A series of reforms in English tests after that, including reform of the national college entrance exam, represented steps in that direction.

Liu Jianda, vice-president of Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, said a unified evaluation system with consistent standards is needed in China to regulate current wide-ranging English teaching and testing approaches.

He said China now has 300 million English learners, and many different English tests.

"But the syllabus is not consistent, and there's no national standard to appraise the learners' performance against uniform benchmarks," he said.

To solve the problem, the new system will connect with mature English teaching and evaluation systems around the world, Liu said.

The system envisions assessment of English proficiency from a low to high level, with nine grades. Each grade has its own requirements for language skills, including listening, speaking, reading, writing and translating.

He Lianzhen, director of Zhejiang University's School of International Studies, said with the new system, people will be able to take tests under consistent and unified standards to meet their various needs, whether it's academic performance at school, entering higher education or searching for jobs.

"The system will also make it easier for teachers, employers and even the learners themselves to judge their English levels," He said.

Major English testing systems in China

Public English Test System: A five-level system used by the National Education Examinations Authority for people with various educational backgrounds working in a wide range of industries in different positions.

College English Test: An English test used by the Ministry of Education's higher education department for all Chinese students at colleges and universities. The test has two levels: CET 4 and CET 6.

Test for English Majors: Used by the English Language Teaching Advisory Board under the Ministry of Education for English majors. It has two levels: TEM 4 and TEM 8.

Business English Certificate: Used by the National Education Examinations Authority and Cambridge International Examinations to evaluate English language skills for business and in daily life. It has three levels: Preliminary, Vantage and Higher-level.

English exam for promotion: Used by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security for professional and technical personnel. It was previously a must for job promotion and had three categories: a comprehensive exam; another for those with an educational background in science and engineering; and one for those with an educational background in healthcare.

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