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HSK website takes on a new look
By China Daily
Updated: 2006-01-19 09:21

For those HSK test-takers who had visited the website for HSK, the Chinese Proficiency Test, before January 15, they may have found it boring and useless.

However, they will now see that it has taken on a whole new face in an attempt to help its test takers.

The old website was finally replaced last Sunday with a brand-new one, thanks to the HSK Centre of Beijing Language and Culture University, which is in charge of designing test papers and managing test taking around the world.

The centre spent the whole of last year developing the new website, which is much faster and offers more language support services.

Sun Dejin, director of the HSK centre, together with his colleagues, finally made the decision in 2004 to upgrade the old website, which had been used for nearly 6 years until last Sunday afternoon.

"The old one was too simple, with a lack of newly-updated information for viewers and it was short of functions, thus it could not satisfy the needs of viewers," said Sun.

Meanwhile, the increased participation in the HSK exam around the world, pushed the HSK Centre to renew their website as soon as possible.

Take last year for instance, 117,660 foreigners sat HSK examinations, a 25-per-cent rise compared to 2004. Summing up the whole number of examinees in the past 16 years, HSK has been taken by over 1 million people, half of them are foreigners from over 120 countries and the other half are ethnic minorities in China.

Since large numbers of examinees are scattered in different parts of the globe, a common platform is necessary so that they can communicate, said Sun.

To provide examinees an effective service, Sun Dejin turned his eyes to the Internet. "HSK can not develop well without the support of the Internet," he told China Daily.

"The Internet can not only help us promote the HSK test and communicate with test-takers at home and abroad, but also help improve the efficiency of our work by saving personnel and resources," said Sun.

With the new website now in operation, viewers can get much more help and information from the website than before.

The new online services are the highlight of the new website, according to Zhang Kai, vice-director of the centre.

They include online registration, and results enquiry and certificate enquiry services.

Online registration and the results enquiry services are both designed for HSK examinees, while the certificate enquiry service has been set up for employers to check the authenticity of job applicants' certificates.

Due to complicated technical and banking problems, the HSK centre is unable to allow registration to be totally completed on the new website.

Though it is a breakthrough for HSK centre to provide online registration for examinees, it offers only the first step of the whole registration process, which is the booking process.

Many Chinese learners had to queue up on the same day to sign up for a test in the Chinese mainland before, said Sun. "Some of them couldn't get the chance due to the quota limitation of each testing venue, even though they had already waited for a long time."

Thus the booking system is designed to save the pains of standing in queue for examinees, said Sun.

Examinees can check their scores online too by just clicking on the related information. Note that currently the system only offers test results from January 1, 2004 to September 30, 2005.

For employers who suspect that an applicant holds a false HSK certificate, they can just log on to the certificate enquiry webpage and key in the serial number and the name, and then it is clear whether it is original. Note that this information is currently only available for certificates issued between January 1, 2004 and September 30, 2005.

Useful books for Chinese language learners 

To help readers studying Chinese as a second language, Beijing-based Sinolingua has published a number of useful books. More information can be obtained at

"HSK Mock Tests"

Compiled by experienced Chinese teachers from the National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language and according to the outline of HSK test, the set of tests includes three volumes: Basic, Elementary and Intermediate, and Advanced.

By completing the intensive exercises, students will be able to better understand and master main language points and basic vocabulary, and in doing so fully prepare themselves for HSK exams.

HSK Mock Test (Basic): 29 yuan (US$3.60)

3 cassette tapes: 33 yuan (US$4)

HSK Mock Test (Elementary & Intermediate): 29 yuan (US$3.60)

3 cassette tapes: 33 yuan (US$4)

HSK Mock Test (Advanced): 32 yuan (US$4)

3 cassette tapes: 33 yuan (US$4)

"Chinese Characters in Pictures" (in two volumes)

In the two volumes of "Chinese Characters in Pictures," about 200 commonly used Chinese characters are introduced and explained in terms of the structure and the way it symbolizes their meaning.

It also includes the stroke order used to write characters, the way in which characters are arranged in Chinese dictionaries, and everyday words and phrases written in characters.

Price: 39 yuan (US$4.80) for each of the two volumes

"250 Chinese Words to Get You Around Beijing"

You might find it difficult to believe that you can live in Beijing or even travel around China with less than 250 Chinese words.

But that dream is within your reach if you use this book. It has seven chapters: eating and drinking, accommodation, transportation, entertainment, shopping, visiting the doctor and asking for help.

The relevant phrases all composed of three to five Chinese characters will also be provided as they appear in each chapter.

All the phrases, most of which are illustrated, have similar expressions, antonyms, humorous points, tips plus pinyin and English annotations attached.

Price: 30 yuan (US$3.70)

"Learning Chinese while Travelling in China"

This book offers a way to learn and practise Chinese language skills in various tourism settings, such as "introducing yourself," "air travel," "getting through customs," "looking for missing luggage," "taking a taxi," "booking a ticket," "dining" and "changing money." All the texts are given in both English and Chinese, with an easy search index.

In addition, the third and fourth sections of the book offer rich travel information, including commonly used telephone numbers, descriptions of renowned Chinese sight-seeing spots, transportation, accommodation and shopping. It is a must for tourists travelling around China.

Price: 36 yuan (US$4.40)

"An Easy Approach to Chinese" (in two volumes)

It is designed for foreigners enrolled on short-term Chinese language courses, including English speaking business people working in China.

It is based on actual situations frequently encountered by foreigners living in China.

Price: 80 yuan (US$9.90)

"Intensive spoken Chinese"

This book is specially designed with a brand-new approach for foreign students beginning to learn Chinese. It includes 40 topics covering virtually all aspects of daily communication, introducing more than 1,000 commonly used words, and 80 essential aspects of Chinese grammar.

Price: 29.80 yuan (US$3.70)

"Popular Chinese Expressions"

This textbook focuses on teaching spoken Chinese to language learners. It provides useful expressions, commonly required by foreign learners. The dialogues focus on specific situations in order to help learners know when to use each expression.

Price: 20.80 yuan (US$2.60)

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