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Testing English Levels by Phone

A computer system developed in the United States to test English proficiency has been put to use in Shenzhen, according to Wednesday's Shenzhen Daily.

He Weicai, an official with Shenzhen Municipal Office for Introducing Foreign Talents, said the system, called PhonePass, tested a person's ability to speak English and to understand conversational English. The caller is required to read aloud, repeat sentences, answer questions and build sentences while taking the test.

The person taking the test needs to call a telephone number printed on a test paper, which is available at Shenzhen's PhonePass examination center at the office. A five-minute test costs 98 yuan (US$12), while a 10-minute test costs 300 yuan.

A Shanghai woman surnamed Zhang, speaking for the system's sole agent in China, said the test was conducted by a computer system that she called “speech recognition technology,” which is designed to analyze speech components from native and non-native speakers of English.

Zhang said five minutes after the test, callers could log on to the agent's Web site www.phonepasschina.com or www.ordinate.com to check their scores.

(Shenzhen Daily July 28, 2004)

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