China to Release Unified English Proficiency Standards Education Articles


Officials with the Ministry of Education (MOE) said a scale for English proficiency levels will be released, and some old tests will be phased out by 2020. [File photo:]

Chinese students who study English will take fewer tests to prove their proficiency after new unified standards for English-language learning are released at the end of this year.

Officials with the Ministry of Education (MOE) said a scale for English proficiency levels will be released, and some old tests will be phased out by 2020.

A report released Wednesday by People's Daily said that universities and language experts have been developing the scale since 2014, when the State Council released a guideline for deepening reforms of testing and recruiting, including a unified testing system for English.

To that end, educational authorities in Anhui province announced that the end of PETS (Public English Test System) in the province starting from 2017, becoming the first province in the country to make such a move. The news has drawn great attention from the public, especially college students who also face CET (College English Test) while in school. If they want to apply for further schooling, attain professional titles in China, or study abroad, more English tests are awaiting them.

In the future, however, Chinese people may only need to take English tests according to their educational backgrounds, as the scale is divided into 9 levels, covers all the education periods from elementary school to university. Specifically, level 1-2 are for elementary students, level 3 is for junior high school students, level 4 is for high school students and level 5-6 are for college students with non-English majors, level 7 is for college students majoring in English and level 8-9 are for the people with superior English language skills.

Along with requirements for listening, speaking, reading and writing, the scale also includes practical skills like written translation and oral translation, which is rare in the world in terms of standards for English proficiency. For students, especially the ones in elementary school, it is more important to cultivate their interest in learning the language rather than forcing them to take tests, according to officials.

"The scale will be helpful in unifying the various kinds of English tests in China that have different standards and also making clear the educational objects of English education in China," said Liu Jianda, an expert in English testing and also vice president of Guangdong University of Foreign Studies.

In establishing the unified standards of English proficiency in China and the new testing regime, it will help promote communication and mutual recognition among the English tests in China and those that are better-known globally, officials with the MOE said. -

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