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Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language

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Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language
TOPHuayuLogo.PNG
Logo of the TOP
TOCFLlogo.svg
Logo of the TOCFL
Traditional Chinese華語文能力測驗
Simplified Chinese华语文能力测验
A TOCFL Certificate
A TOCFL Certificate

The Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language (TOCFL) (Chinese: 華語文能力測驗; pinyin: Huáyǔwén Nénglì Cèyàn) is the standardized test of Taiwanese Mandarin (a type of Mandarin Chinese) language proficiency of Taiwan for non-native speakers such as foreign students. It is administered by the Steering Committee for the Test Of Proficiency-Huayu (SC-TOP) (Chinese: 國家華語測驗推動工作委員會; pinyin: Guójiā Huáyǔ Cèyàn Tuīdòng Gōngzuò Wěiyuánhuì). The committee is under the direction of the Republic of China's Ministry of Education. The test was formerly known as the TOP or Test Of Proficiency-Huayu.

For children aged 7–12, an age-specific test exists called the Children's Chinese Competency Certification (or CCCC, Chinese: 兒童華語文能力測驗; pinyin: Értóng Huáyǔwén Nénglì Cèyàn).[1]

The test cannot be taken in Mainland China, Hong Kong or Macao, where only the PRC's HSK exam can be taken. Conversely, the HSK exam is not available in Taiwan.

Discover more about Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language related topics

Traditional Chinese characters

Traditional Chinese characters

Traditional Chinese characters are one type of standard Chinese character sets of the contemporary written Chinese. The traditional characters had taken shapes since the clerical change and mostly remained in the same structure they took at the introduction of the regular script in the 2nd century. Over the following centuries, traditional characters were regarded as the standard form of printed Chinese characters or literary Chinese throughout the Sinosphere until the middle of the 20th century, before different script reforms initiated by countries using Chinese characters as a writing system.

Pinyin

Pinyin

Hanyu Pinyin, often shortened to just pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Mandarin Chinese in China, and to some extent, in Singapore and Malaysia. It is often used to teach Mandarin, normally written in Chinese form, to learners already familiar with the Latin alphabet. The system includes four diacritics denoting tones, but pinyin without tone marks is used to spell Chinese names and words in languages written in the Latin script, and is also used in certain computer input methods to enter Chinese characters. The word Hànyǔ literally means "Han language", while Pīnyīn (拼音) means "spelled sounds".

Taiwanese Mandarin

Taiwanese Mandarin

Taiwanese Mandarin, Guoyu or Huayu refers to Mandarin Chinese spoken in Taiwan. This comprises two main forms: Standard Guoyu, the formal standard variety, and Taiwan Guoyu, its more colloquial, localized form. A large majority of the Taiwanese population is fluent in Mandarin, though many also speak Taiwanese Hokkien, commonly called Minnanyu.

Mandarin Chinese

Mandarin Chinese

Mandarin is a group of Chinese (Sinitic) dialects that are natively spoken across most of northern and southwestern China. The group includes the Beijing dialect, the basis of the phonology of Standard Chinese, the official language of China. Because Mandarin originated in North China and most Mandarin dialects are found in the north, the group is sometimes referred to as Northern Chinese. Many varieties of Mandarin, such as those of the Southwest and the Lower Yangtze, are not mutually intelligible with the standard language. Nevertheless, Mandarin as a group is often placed first in lists of languages by number of native speakers.

Taiwan

Taiwan

Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia, at the junction of the East and South China Seas in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, with the People's Republic of China (PRC) to the northwest, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the south. The territories controlled by the ROC consist of 168 islands, with a combined area of 36,193 square kilometres (13,974 sq mi). The main island of Taiwan, also known as Formosa, has an area of 35,808 square kilometres (13,826 sq mi), with mountain ranges dominating the eastern two-thirds and plains in the western third, where its highly urbanised population is concentrated. The capital, Taipei, forms along with New Taipei City and Keelung the largest metropolitan area of Taiwan. Other major cities include Taoyuan, Taichung, Tainan, and Kaohsiung. With around 23.9 million inhabitants, Taiwan is among the most densely populated countries in the world.

International student

International student

International students, or foreign students, are students who undertake all or part of their tertiary education in a country other than their own and move to that country for the purpose of studying.

Mainland China

Mainland China

"Mainland China" is a geopolitical term defined as the territory governed by the People's Republic of China, excluding dependent territories of the PRC and other territories within Greater China. By convention, the territories that fall outside of the Chinese mainland include:Hong Kong, a quasi-dependent territory under PRC rule that is officially designated a "Special Administrative Region of the PRC" Macau, a quasi-dependent territory under PRC rule that is officially designated a "Special Administrative Region of the PRC" Territories ruled by the Republic of China, including the island of Taiwan, the Penghu (Pescadores) islands in the Taiwan Strait, and the islands Kinmen, Matsu, and Wuqiu (Kinmen) offshore of Fujian.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Hong Kong, officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, is a city and special administrative region of China on the eastern Pearl River Delta in South China. With 7.5 million residents of various nationalities in a 1,104-square-kilometre (426 sq mi) territory, Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated places in the world. Hong Kong is also a major global financial centre and one of the most developed cities in the world.

China

China

China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's most populous country, with a population exceeding 1.4 billion, slightly ahead of India. China spans the equivalent of five time zones and borders fourteen countries by land, the most of any country in the world, tied with Russia. China also has a narrow maritime boundary with the disputed Taiwan. Covering an area of approximately 9.6 million square kilometers (3,700,000 sq mi), it is the world's third largest country by total land area. The country consists of 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four municipalities, and two Special Administrative Regions. The national capital is Beijing, and the most populous city and financial center is Shanghai.

Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi

Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi

The Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi, translated as the Chinese Proficiency Test, is the standardized test of Standard Chinese language proficiency of Mainland China for non-native speakers such as foreign students and overseas Chinese. The test is administered by Hanban, an agency of the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China.

History of SC-TOP

The Steering Committee for the Test Of Proficiency-Huayu (SC-TOP) was established in November 2005 under the direction of the Republic of China's Ministry of Education. Originally called the Chinese Language Testing Center and renamed in January 2007, the Committee aims to develop and promote an effective Chinese assessment system, mainly the Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language (TOCFL), for Chinese learners worldwide to assess their Chinese proficiency.

The SC-TOP has the following major missions:

  • To design and plan the test contents of the TOCFL and CCCC exams
  • To build test item pools for the TOCFL and CCCC exams
  • To develop computer-based Chinese proficiency testing systems
  • To promote Taiwan's Chinese proficiency tests for non-native speakers of Chinese
  • To increase the exchange among Chinese proficiency testing organizations worldwide

History of TOCFL

The Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language (TOCFL) is a standardized language proficiency test developed for non-native speakers of Chinese. It is the result of a joint project of the Mandarin Training Center, the Graduate Institute of Teaching Chinese as a Second Language, and the Psychological Testing Center of National Taiwan Normal University. The research project started in August 2001, and the tests started to be conducted in 2003. So far, it has served test takers from over 60 countries. The new version of TOCFL is developed since 2008, to become available in 2013.

The new version of the TOCFL has four proficiency bands: Novice, Band A, Band B, and Band C. Each of the bands has two levels. Therefore, there are a total of eight levels: Novice 1 and 2, followed by Levels 1 to 6. The items on the test of each level are 50 multiple choice items, to be answered in 60 minutes. Test takers can choose the test levels best suited to them based on their Chinese language proficiency and learning background. The former version (until 2013) had only five levels.

Purpose and use

TOCFL test takers who reach the level requirements will receive a certificate, which can serve as a credential of proficiency in Chinese for:

  • Applying to the Taiwan Scholarship.
  • Applying to academic programs at colleges or universities in Taiwan, as a reference for the subject of Chinese.
  • Providing a job-required proof of language competency.

Currently some undergraduate and graduate programs in Taiwan adopt the TOCFL certificate as the requirement for admission or as the evaluation of an applicant's Chinese proficiency.[2] In addition, many international businesses in Taiwan, such as LG, adopt TOCFL as a reference for their employee dispatch programs. Several overseas companies also refer to candidates' TOCFL certificates when recruiting.

Examinants

The TOCFL is intended for non-native speakers of Mandarin. Those who wish to know their level of Mandarin Chinese proficiency, and those who want to study, work, or do business in Mandarin Chinese-speaking countries or contexts are welcome to register for the test. The following table sets out the suggested learning hours of Mandarin Chinese, and suggested vocabulary base at each test level.

Band Level Suggested Learning Hours Number of words
Novice Novice 1 30-120 hrs 300
Novice Novice 2
A Level 1 120-240 hrs 500
A Level 2 240-360 hrs 1000
B Level 3 360-480 hrs 2500
B Level 4 480-960 hrs 5000
C Level 5 960-1920 hrs 8000
C Level 6 above 1920 hrs 8000

Please note:

  1. The suggested number of course hours learning Mandarin Chinese required by overseas test-takers may need to be doubled. For example, the table indicates that Level 2 test-takers who take Mandarin Chinese courses in a Chinese-speaking country need to have completed 240–360 course hours. People taking courses in countries where other languages are spoken generally require 480–720 hours.
  2. The suggested vocabulary list for each level can be found online at the official site.

Relationship with TBCL

Taiwan Benchmarks for the Chinese Language (臺灣華語文能力基準, TBCL) is a guideline developed by Taiwan's National Academy for Educational Research to describe seven levels of Chinese language proficiency. It includes lists which contains 3,100 Chinese characters, 14,425 words, and 496 grammar points.[3][4]

For exams starting from August 2021, the TBCL ability level column will be added to the transcripts to help Chinese learners around the world understand the correspondence between TBCL, CEFR, and ACTFL guidelines. The TOCFL will also use the TBCL as one of the references for test design.[5][6]

Comparison with HSK

It is difficult to directly compare the Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK) with the TOCFL.

Unlike TOCFL, HSK has 6 levels. The six HSK levels and the six Band A, B and C TOCFL levels all claim that these levels are compatible with the six levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). However, for each test, the number of words or characters required differs. For example, TOCFL generally requires more vocabulary at each level, comparing with the HSK.

The German, Italian and French associations of Chinese language teachers argue that HSK level 6 (2010 version) is equivalent to CEFR level B1/B2/C1 (about TOCFL Level 4) and reject Hanban's claim.[7]

The new Chinese Proficiency Standard, effective on July 1st 2021, adds 300 required characters to every level, therefore the amount of words that must be studied increases exponentially. According to the new Chinese Proficiency Standard, levels 1, 2, 3, 4 in the coming HSK would be more difficult than its 2010 version, and less so in levels 5 and 6. The more difficult levels (7-9) would equivalent to CEFR level C.

Estimated
CEFR level
Level
(HSK 2010)
Level
(HSK Coming)
Level
(TOCFL)
Level
(TBCL)[8]
Required words
(HSK 2010/Coming)[9]
Required words
(TOCFL/TBCL)[3][4]
Required characters (S)
(HSK2010/Coming)[9]
Required characters (T)
(TBCL)[3]
Level 1
Level 2
Novice 1
Novice 2
Level 1 150
300
160
393
396 174
347
246
Level A1
Level A2
Level 3
Level 4
Level 1
Level 2
Level 3
Level 1
Level 2
Level 2 [10]
Level 3
600
1200
500
1272
2245
740
1225
798
1254
617
1064
300
600
900
504
801
Level B1
Level B2
Level 5
Level 6
Level 4
Level 5
Level 6
Level 3
Level 4
Level 4
Level 5
2500
5000
3245
4316
5456
2399
4741
2669
5288
1685
2663
1200
1500
1800
1300
1900
Level C1
Level C2
Level 7
Level 8
Level 9
Level 5
Level 6
Level 6
Level 7
11092 7517 9432
14425
3000 2500
3100

Discover more about Comparison with HSK related topics

Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi

Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi

The Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi, translated as the Chinese Proficiency Test, is the standardized test of Standard Chinese language proficiency of Mainland China for non-native speakers such as foreign students and overseas Chinese. The test is administered by Hanban, an agency of the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China.

Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment, abbreviated in English as CEFR or CEF or CEFRL, is a guideline used to describe achievements of learners of foreign languages across Europe and, increasingly, in other countries. The CEFR is also intended to make it easier for educational institutions and employers to evaluate the language qualifications of candidates for education admission or employment. Its main aim is to provide a method of learning, teaching, and assessing that applies to all languages in Europe.

Hanban

Hanban

Hanban, also known as Confucius Institute Headquarters, is the colloquial abbreviation for the Office of Chinese Language Council International. It was originally called the China National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language, which was established in 1987. According to Hanban's official website, Hanban is "a public institution affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education" and is committed to "providing Chinese language and cultural teaching resources and services worldwide". Hanban's goals include "making Chinese language and culture teaching resources and services available to the world", "meeting the demands of overseas Chinese learners", and "contributing to the formation of a world of cultural diversity and harmony". Hanban aims to cultivate knowledge and interest in the Chinese language and culture around the world, especially in people who are not native speakers of Chinese. Hanban has worked "closely with overseas organizations to develop Chinese language courses in their respective countries".

Simplified Chinese characters

Simplified Chinese characters

Simplified Chinese characters are standardized Chinese characters used in mainland China, Malaysia and Singapore, as prescribed by the Table of General Standard Chinese Characters. Along with traditional Chinese characters, they are one of the two standard character sets of the contemporary Chinese written language. The government of the People's Republic of China in mainland China has promoted them for use in printing since the 1950s and 1960s to encourage literacy. They are officially used in the People's Republic of China, Malaysia and Singapore, while traditional Chinese characters still remain in common use in Hong Kong, Macau, ROC/Taiwan and Japan to a certain extent.

Traditional Chinese characters

Traditional Chinese characters

Traditional Chinese characters are one type of standard Chinese character sets of the contemporary written Chinese. The traditional characters had taken shapes since the clerical change and mostly remained in the same structure they took at the introduction of the regular script in the 2nd century. Over the following centuries, traditional characters were regarded as the standard form of printed Chinese characters or literary Chinese throughout the Sinosphere until the middle of the 20th century, before different script reforms initiated by countries using Chinese characters as a writing system.

Format

TOCFL tests four language skills: Listening, Reading, Speaking, and Writing.

Listening

Novice has three sections. There are 25 multiple-choice questions in total. This test takes approximately 25 minutes.

Band A has four sections: Picture Description, Single-round Dialogue (questions with picture options), Multiple-round Dialogue (questions with picture options), and Dialogue (questions with text options). There are 50 multiple-choice questions in total. This test takes approximately 60 minutes.

Band B and Band C have two sections: Dialogue and Monologue. There are 50 multiple-choice questions with text options. This test takes approximately 60 minutes.

Reading

Novice has two sections. There are 25 multiple-choice questions in total. This test takes 25 minutes.

Band A has five sections: Sentence Comprehension, Picture Description, Gap Filling, Paragraph Completion, and Reading Comprehension. There are 45 multiple-choice questions and 5 matching questions. This test takes 60 minutes.

Bands B and C have two sections: Gap Filling and Reading Comprehension. Each test consists of 50 multiple-choice questions and takes 60 minutes.

Speaking

The TOCFL Speaking test adopts a holistic scoring approach, taking into account the content, fluency, and language skills of the test taker. The results are presented in the form of scale scores. The objective is mainly to assess the competence of the test takers to effectively accomplish the communication tasks verbally in different language contexts.

Writing

The TOCFL Writing test is an evaluation of the test-taker's ability to use written materials to effectively transmit information in particular contexts. The level-based grading system is based on the appropriateness and substance of the test-taker's responses to situational tasks, compositional structure and completeness, correct syntax, and the use of a suitably wide range of appropriate vocabulary.

Overseas testing

Aside from being available in Taiwan, SC-TOP has been providing overseas testing services since 2006. However, compared to the HSK exam, the number of test locations is somewhat limited. According to the SC-TOP's official website, the test can be taken in the following 21 countries:

  • Asian Pacific — Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Thailand, Vietnam
  • Central and South America — Nicaragua, Paraguay
  • Europe — Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland
  • North America — Canada, United States, México

Out of these states, Paraguay recognizes the Republic of China as the sole legitimate government of China.

Source: "Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2022, November 26th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Test_of_Chinese_as_a_Foreign_Language.

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See also
References
  1. ^ "兒童華語文能力測驗(CCCC)". cccc.sc-top.org.tw. Retrieved 2019-03-28.
  2. ^ "Steering Committee for the Test Of Proficiency-Huayu (SC-TOP)". www.sc-top.org.tw. Retrieved 2020-11-08.
  3. ^ a b c "Taiwan Benchmarks for the Chinese Language".
  4. ^ a b "華語八千詞表調整說明" (PDF).
  5. ^ "The Chinese Language Proficiency Test report card adds a column corresponding to the level of the "Taiwan Chinese Language Proficiency Benchmark"".
  6. ^ "TOCFL 成績單新增 TBCL 對應欄位 答客問" (PDF).
  7. ^ "Steering Committee for the Test Of Proficiency-Huayu (SC-TOP)". www.sc-top.org.tw. Retrieved 2019-01-18.
  8. ^ "台灣華語文能力測驗遍及五大洲,為何無法主要採用國教院「三等七級」能力基準".
  9. ^ a b "China's HSK Language Test To be Overhauled for the First Time in 11 Years".
  10. ^ Level 2 of the TBCL roughly corresponds to between Novice 2 and Level 1 of the TOCFL.
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