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Volume 68, Issue 45, Monday, October 28, 2002


Students test skills in Chinese language

By Luis Zepeda
The Daily Cougar

An eclectic mix of 43 people gathered at Farish Hall on Saturday to take the Chinese Standard Test (HSK), an annual test which measures Chinese language proficiency. 

The HSK (an abbreviation for the three Chinese words Hanyo, Shuiping and Kaoshi, which mean "Chinese Standard Test") is similar to the English standard test TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), which assesses the English proficiency of non-native speakers. 

The HSK is the official test used by China to certify foreign students to attend Chinese schools or work for the Chinese government.

Seventeen-year-old Jocelyn Liipfert and 9-year-old Lisa Shang take the Chinese Standard Test at UH on Saturday. The test is a measure of language proficiency and was given at only three U.S. universities this year.

Pin Lim/The Daily Cougar

Yali Zou, director of the Asian American Studies Center at UH, coordinated this yearis testing with the overseeing presence of Chinais chief consul for education in Houston, Yansheng Ma.

"The AASC is authorized by the Education Ministry of the Peopleis Republic of China to conduct this test for the entire southeast part of America," Zou said. "Last year we offered nine students scholarships to study in China this summer."

Founded in the spring of 1995, the AASC offers study-abroad programs in China.

The HSK attracted people of Chinese and other nationalities. They ranged in age from 9 to 51. Families gathered anxiously near the doors to greet test-takers as they exited, nervously waiting to hear how test-takers performed.

Wei-Chen Wang, a sophomore accounting major at UH-Downtown, took the beginner section of the HSK. The test is divided in beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.

"If I score pretty good, Iill get a scholarship to study abroad in Beijing, China," Wang said. "Itis important for me to know at what level of Chinese Iim in and to know that Iive improved."

Last yearis HSK was administered at only two universities in the United States: UH and the University of Michigan. This year, New York University has been added to the list, and universities in California and Florida are applying to be HSK test sites next year. In total, 55 HSK test centers are in 24 countries.

Zou pointed out that more and more people are wanting to go to China to pursue their degrees and find jobs. 

"We need to educate our students to think globally, not just to think locally," Zou said.

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