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China issues first Chinese language proficiency benchmarks for foreigners

China's top language promotion institute issued the first Chinese language proficiency benchmarks for foreigners here on Wednesday.

  The Chinese Language Proficiency Scales for Speakers of Other Languages is the first reference standard to assess the fluency of foreign learners of Chinese.

  The system features a five-step, comprehensive measure of the ability to communicate, Xu Lin, director of the Office of Chinese Language Council International (OCLCI), told the Confucius Institute Conference. The OCLCI has promoted the global development of the institute over the past three years.

  The basic framework of the scales has three parts: writing, speaking and listening ability. Each of these areas breaks down into five bands.

  Xu introduced the "exemplification of tasks" system to facilitate the understanding of the various proficiency bands.

  For example, for band one of listening proficiency, students should be able to understand basic personal information, follow simple instructions, make apologies, and so on. Band five, the top of the scale in listening comprehension, requires an advanced understanding of such things as a description of how something happened, a broadcast interview, a doctor's diagnosis, and so on.

  She said the scale was developed to meet the needs of Chinese language teaching and learning worldwide and would serve as an important basis on which students' proficiency could be measured in a scientific way.

  Xu noted that the office had consulted language education and testing experts from over 80 domestic and foreign universities about the scales. It had also solicited advice and opinions from a wide range of Chinese and overseas experts, scholars and teachers.

  Xu said the scales were designed with reference to the results of research concerning international language proficiency scales such as the Common European Framework of Reference for Language: learning, teaching, assessment and Canadian Language Benchmarks.

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