Nationwide Mandarin test open to foreigners

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A new nationwide Chinese proficiency test, which is also open to foreigners, debuted nationwide Saturday. The test can be taken by people who use Mandarin in daily life, either at work or school.

A new Chinese proficiency test made its debut nationwide on Saturday.[Photo/Yangtse Evening Post]

A new Chinese proficiency test made its debut nationwide on Saturday.[Photo/Yangtse Evening Post]

The test, called Hanyu Nengli Ceshi in Chinese and HNC in short, was part experimental, held at 13 selected venues in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Jiangsu, Hunan, Yunnan and Inner Mongolia.

Examinees were tested on their listening comprehension, speaking, reading and writing skills. Except for the writing part, the exam was carried out online.

The HNC test has been designed to test one's Chinese skills at six stages, Level 1 being the most basic and Level 6 the most advanced. Examinees will receive certificates at corresponding levels and an assessment report about the strengths and weaknesses of their Chinese proficiency.

Instead of inviting individual application, the organizers at the 13 venues contacted the examinees - mostly college students, a few faculty members, civil servants and middle school students.

No examination fee was charged this time.

With support from China's Ministry of Education and the State Language Commission, the National Education Examinations Authority (NEEA) oversaw this non-compulsory and nonprofit test.

The HNC test is likely to be held twice a year in the future in more venues, according to an official surnamed Qiu from the NEEA.

Since September 2010, four small-scale trial exams were held to test the system, Qiu said.

"The country almost has a crisis in its language. Now students spend much time learning English. More and more foreign languages have already entered into Chinese people's daily lives," said a woman surnamed Wang, who graduated with Chinese major, and was working as a secretary in a State-owned company.

"Perhaps the Chinese language ability test could rekindle the enthusiasm for learning Chinese in young people," she said.

According to the 2010 report on language situation in China issued by the Ministry of Education in May, Chinese students were found to have poor writing and other practical skills in Mandarin. The report cited a survey polling college students in Beijing, which showed 30 percent had failed in a mock HNC test.

(China Daily contributed to this story)

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