English stan­dard com­ing soon

Min­istry plans to roll out sys­tem of eval­u­a­tion that will ap­ply to all

China Daily - - CHINA - By ZOU SHUO zoushuo@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China’s first eval­u­a­tion stan­dard for pro­fi­ciency in English is ex­pected to take ef­fect on June 1, the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion said on Tues­day.

The stan­dard, jointly is­sued by the min­istry and the State Lan­guage Com­mis­sion, de­fines three cat­e­gories of English lan­guage abil­ity — ba­sic, in­ter­me­di­ate and ad­vanced — with nine lev­els al­to­gether, a state­ment on the min­istry’s web­site said.

The stan­dard ap­plies to al­llevels of English learn­ers from el­e­men­tary school to uni­ver­sity and fo­cuses on stu­dents’ abil­ity in ev­ery­day prac­ti­cal lan­guage, broader com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills and un­der­stand­ing of the cul­ture in English-speak­ing places.

The Na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion Ex­am­i­na­tions Au­thor­ity, un­der the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, is cur­rently de­vel­op­ing an English exam that ap­plies the eval­u­a­tion sys­tem to higher ed­u­ca­tion, the state­ment said.

In 112 pages, the English pro­fi­ciency stan­dard lays down de­tailed re­quire­ments for lis­ten­ing, speak­ing, read­ing and writ­ing. It also in­cludes prac­ti­cal skills, such as trans­lat­ing, where stan­dards are rare world­wide.

To com­pile the scale, called “China’s Stan­dards of English Lan­guage Abil­ity”, ex­perts spent three years col­lect­ing data from 160,000 stu­dents and teach­ers and con­ducted re­search and stud­ies at more than 1,500 schools in 28 prov­inces.

Xiong Bingqi, vice-pres­i­dent of the Bei­jing-based 21st Cen­tury Ed­u­ca­tion Re­search In­sti­tute, said: “The scale will be help­ful in uni­fy­ing var­i­ous kinds of English tests in China that have dif­fer­ent stan­dards and also in clar­i­fy­ing the ed­u­ca­tional ob­jec­tives of English ed­u­ca­tion in China.”

With a clearer eval­u­a­tion sys­tem, stu­dents and teach­ers can as­sess learn­ing re­sults more pre­cisely and ef­fi­ciently, Xiong said.

The stan­dards can also guide the coun­try’s re­forms in var­i­ous English lan­guage tests, so they will be more fo­cused on test­ing stu­dents’ prac­ti­cal skills in us­ing English, rather than skills in tak­ing tests, he added.

Cao Li, pro­fes­sor of English lan­guage and Amer­i­can Lit­er­a­ture at Ts­inghua Uni­ver­sity, said es­tab­lish­ing uni­fied stan­dards of English pro­fi­ciency in China will help pro­mote com­mu­ni­ca­tion and mu­tual recog­ni­tion among the cre­ators of var­i­ous English tests in China and those that are bet­ter-known glob­ally, such as IELTS and Toefl tests.

“China’s stan­dards in test­ing English lan­guage abil­ity can also be used glob­ally,” Cao said.

Cur­rently, China’s non-English-ma­jor un­der­grad­u­ate and post­grad­u­ate stu­dents are re­quired to take the Col­lege English Test, which in­cludes two lev­els, CET4 and CET6. A sim­i­lar but more rig­or­ous test, the Test for English Ma­jors, is manda­tory for stu­dents in that dis­ci­pline. For those stu­dents, pass­ing the TEM-4 is a grad­u­a­tion re­quire­ment.

For those who want to ap­ply for ad­vanced school­ing, at­tain pro­fes­sional ti­tles in China or study abroad, more English tests await.

Xiong said the key to re­form­ing the coun­try’s English lan­guage tests is a sepa­ra­tion be­tween ex­ams and en­roll­ment, so that peo­ple will start to learn English be­cause they like the lan­guage, not be­cause they are re­quired to study it.

With­out this kind of re­form, the cur­rent plans are un­likely to pro­duce the in­tended ef­fects, he said.

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