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Beijing Officials Take English Language Test
Recently, Beijing Municipal Party Committee Party School held a public English test for more than 2,000 officials from the Party, government organizations, public institutions and enterprises. It is reported that the test, consisting of three parts -- listening, reading comprehension and writing -- is no easier than the College English Test 4 (CET4) and that some questions are based on those used by the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

According to the 2001 to 2005 education and training program for Beijing officials, bureaucrats above the rank of section chief and under the age of 45 should have a solid grasp of using computers, and over half of them should have a basic command of at least one foreign language. In order to promote Beijing’s economic development, show leadership in the drive toward modernization and advance the path of internationalization, the municipal Party committee held a public English test for officials. The program aims to comprehensively improve the quality of officials and fulfill its promises to the international community after Beijing’s successful bid for the 2008 Olympics and China’s entry to the WTO.

Of the officials taking the exam, the oldest examinee was over 40 years of age, while the youngest was just 22. One hundred and twenty four participants were above the rank of vice division chief. A girl named He Jing of the Babaoshan sub district office, located in western Beijing’s Shijingshan district, the youngest examinee to sit the test, said that she had just graduated from university and that the test was a good inspiration for her to keep learning English. Teacher Zang, 30, of Gucheng middle school, has been pregnant for several months, but she also came to take the exam. She said, with many schools conducting bilingual education nowadays, it’s becoming more important for teachers to improve their levels of English.

Officials started taking the public English test in 2000. The difference this year was that the test was extended to officials with a college level of education or above and under 45 years old, from the Party, government organizations, public institutions and enterprises, including managers from public institutions and enterprises as well as working professionals. In addition, the test took signatures from both collective and individual volunteers. Altogether 2,682 officials signed up for the exam, of which 1,274 were civil servants and 1,175 were individual professionals.

Deputy Director Shi Shaojie for the Organization Department of the Beijing Municipal Party Committee described the test as forming an example for the whole city, and will further establish a positive atmosphere for Beijing officials studying English and lay a solid foundation for fulfilling training and education abroad.

(China.org.cn by Li Xiao, December 4, 2002)

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