New Col­lege English Tests draw com­plaints

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By ZHAO XINYING zhaoxiny­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Changes in the new na­tional Col­lege English Test level 4 and level 6 held on Satur­day for the first time have prompted com­plaints about the lis­ten­ing and trans­lat­ing sec­tions.

In an online sur­vey ini­ti­ated by Sina Weibo, a Chi­nese mi­cro blog plat­form, 23.1 per­cent out of 3,835 test-tak­ers said they didn’t fin­ish the lis­ten­ing com­pre­hen­sion sec­tion and 17.4 per­cent said they handed in a blank an­swer sheet for lis­ten­ing.

“Time for lis­ten­ing com­pre­hen­sion was ex­tremely lim­ited, and we had to hand in our an­swer sheets im­me­di­ately af­ter the record ended,” said Liu Jun­qiang, a fresh­man at Bei­jing In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy.

“As a re­sult, many stu­dents didn’t com­plete the an­swer sheet for this sec­tion,” said Liu, who was tak­ing the level 4 test.

The na­tional Col­lege English Test com­mit­tee an­nounced in Au­gust that sev­eral mod­i­fi­ca­tions would be made to the bian­nual tests, which be­gan in the 1980s to test the English pro­fi­ciency of un­der­grad­u­ates na­tion­wide.

The changes in­cluded re­duc­ing the test time for lis­ten­ing sec­tion from 35 to 30 min­utes.

“Un­like pre­vi­ously, this test didn’t leave time to fill out the an­swer sheet, which threw us into con­fu­sion be­cause we didn’t ex­pect it,” Liu said.

Other changes in the test, such as trans­lat­ing, also brought com­plaints from test- tak­ers af­ter Satur­day’s ex­ams.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­form an­nounce­ment re­leased by the Col­lege English Tests Com­mit­tee, test-tak­ers would have 30 min­utes to trans­late into English a pas­sage with 140 to 200 Chi­nese char­ac­ters (in­stead of the five sim­ple sen­tences pre­vi­ously), and the texts would deal mainly with China-re­lated topics, such as Chi­nese his­tory, cul­ture, the econ­omy and so­cial de­vel­op­ment.

As of 5 pm on Sun­day, 50.4 per­cent of 17,461 Sina sur­vey par­tic­i­pants said “the test is re­ally dif­fi­cult”.

Hu Yonghua, an English lan­guage teacher with Cap­i­tal Nor­mal Univer­sity in Bei­jing, said the change in the trans­la­tion sec­tion in­di­cated there is an in­creas­ing em­pha­sis on English as a tool for com­mu­ni­ca­tion and cul­tural ex­change.

“To adapt to the changes and solve the prob­lems in the test, stu­dents should in­crease their ef­forts in learn­ing English,” she said.

Many test-tak­ers, how­ever, were thrown off by the word­ing.

“For some Chi­nese ex­pres­sions like yuan lin (mean­ing land­scape gar­dens) and si chou zhi lu (the Silk Road), I can’t find the ex­act English word or phrase be­cause I sel­dom come across them or use them in my daily study,” said Li Xiaolan, a ju­nior ma­jor­ing in English-lan­guage teach­ing at Baoji Univer­sity of Arts and Sciences, Shaanxi prov­ince.

“But it re­minded me that I should im­prove my vo­cab­u­lary,” she said.

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