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Big Increase in Chinese 'TOEFL' Examinees
When tens of thousands of Chinese students are busy with attending the tests of IELTS and TOEFL, the HSK, known as the Chinese "TOEFL" test, is attracting more and more foreign examinees. In 2002, the first year of China's membership in the WTO, the global attendees at the HSK tests hit a record high in history.

Cui Xiliang, Director of the HSK Center of Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU) said the HSK attendees in 2002 came to around 144,000 in total, a growth of 40,000 over that of 2001. Among the examinees, most of them are from the ROK, followed with those from Japan, the USA, Germany and Italy.

The HSK test is a standardized test for Chinese language set up at the national level for those of non-native Chinese speakers. At the beginning of 1990s when the test was initially set up, every year only saw around 200 examinees. But 10 years afterwards, there sees an increase of about 40-50 percent every year, an equivalent growth rate as against that of the TOEFL examination of the USA in its initial 10 years.

The investigation by the HSK Center of BLCU indicates that at the very beginning when the HSK examination was set up most of the examination attendees were for coming to study in China. But now the ratio of these examinees come only to 15 percent while those aiming at working in China take up a majority of them, a proportion of around 35 percent, and nearly half of the examinees were for getting to know their own level in Chinese.

Cui Xiliang said the big growth in the number of HSK examinees in 2002 has things to do with the economic development in China. The Chinese economy witnessed a steady growth when the global economy was at a low tide and so many foreigners would like to seek for careers in China. China's entry into the WTO has opened up doors for foreign enterprises and capital to access the Chinese market and along with it, the Chinese becomes more and more important.

As learned, up to now, more than 400 from among the 500 enterprise-powers in the world have made their investment in China and more and more transnational corporations are ready to put up their regional headquarters in China.

Under the circumstances, the HSK certificates have become talismans for some foreigners to find for them job opportunities, said Cui Xiliang. The ROK has made the passing of the HSK, TOEFL or IELTS examination a necessary condition for people to be civil servants in the government. Should a ROK citizen want to find a job in a ROK enterprise in China s/he must pass certain level of the HSK examination. The Chinese learners (referring to non-native Chinese speaker) on this globe now have come to more than 60 million in total, said Cui Xiliang, and the HSK examinees are, as foretold, still on the increase in the recent two years to come.

Up to the yearend of 2002, those who took part in the HSK examination had come to 540,000 in total and they were from some 120 countries. And up to now, 44 HSK examination spots have been set up in 27 cities and regions in China, including those in Hong Kong and Macao, said Cui Xiliang. Besides, almost some 60 HSK examination spots have been put up in 27 countries and regions, such as in Japan, the ROK, Singapore, Canada and the USA, etc.

(People's Daily January 7, 2003)

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