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Chinese Proficiency Test Takers Increase by 40% Annually

Chinese Vice-Minister of Education Zhang Xinsheng said Wednesday that the overseas examinees for Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK) have grown 40 percent annually in recent years.

Zhang, also deputy leader of the State Leading Group for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language, said that currently, China has 151 HSK examination spots in 34 countries. The number of the test takers increased to 90,000 last year from about 2,000 a dozen years ago.

China will further reform the HSK test system to make it more accessible to most Chinese learners. Specific tests for business and tourism and for children should be developed, Zhang said.

He said that the overseas demand for Chinese learning has surged as the exchanges between China and the outside world are strengthening.

"The growth speed of the demand far exceeded than what we expected, as more and more governmental administrations in various countries have listed Chinese language as compulsory course for second language learning," Zhang said.

According to a survey of foreigners who learned Chinese, China has become a popular choice for foreign nationals to start their career. Statistics from the MOE also showed that more than 2,500 primary and middle schools in the United States have launched or are planning to set up a Chinese course. Currently, more than 20,000 people are teaching Chinese in southeast Asia, which still cannot satisfy the people's needs.

Zhang stressed that the Chinese people are highly interested in foreign language study. The Chinese primary students begin to receive English courses from the third grade. Chinese universities set up more than 40 kinds of foreign language teaching. As many as200 million Chinese are learning at least one kind of foreign language.

(Xinhua News Agency June 16, 2005)

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