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Andrew987

Now allowed to type on new HSK test

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Andrew987

Today I was at Diqiucun's Wudaokao branch discussing the New HSK test Level 6 (highest level). I told the girl in the office that even though I have 3+ years of formal Chinese study, I was worried about the written portion of the test, because I have written essays, but not by hand. She told me students are now allowed to use a computer and type the written/essay portion of the test. Has anyone else heard about this?

On a side note, she said on average students only prepare for the HSK 2-3 months. She said 6 months of preparation for the New HSK level 6 was too long. I've never taken any HSK test, but from what I've read on these forums, this doesn't sound right.

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Daan

When I took the new HSK (level 6) in June, no one mentioned to me that students were allowed to use a computer for the writing section.

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roddy

I would dearly love this to be true, but I can't see anything about it on chinesetesting.cn or the Hanban site, and I'm pretty sure they'd be announcing it if it was true. Maybe they're running trials though.

They've barely mastered cassette tape technology though. Even if it does happen I bet it involves 5.25 inch floppies and punch cards.

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anonymoose

I'd be surprised if it were true. I mean, doesn't it kind of defeat the purpose of a written exam?

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ironlady

No, I think that talking about proficiency means beimg able to use the language fluently and accurately, but not necessarily surpassing what native speakers do every day. And precious few of them handwrite much at all these days. I would be greatly encouraged if the computer input thing were possible for the HSK, and I think that if possible, everyone who has time should email Hanban and request this, even if only as an option.

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Meng Lelan
Nevermind... misread OP.

You *thought* the OP said "Not allowed to type on new HSK test", did you!?

I mean, doesn't it kind of defeat the purpose of a written exam?

Writing is writing is writing, as long as the product communicates an idea.

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anonymoose

If you're writing an article for a magazine, yes. If you're writing a Chinese exam, part of which should be testing your ability to write characters, then no.

Next you'll be telling me they should allow a speech synthesiser for the oral part of the exam, so you can take it without having to be able to enunciate Chinese words.

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Meng Lelan
Next you'll be telling me they should allow a speech synthesiser for the oral part of the exam, so you can take it without having to be able to enunciate Chinese words.

Yes, it should be, as an accomodation to those who have a disability and are not able to vocalize.

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anonymoose

Yes. Maybe they should allow one to take the exam in English as an accomodation to those who don't know Chinese.

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yonglin

I think it really depends on what they're interested in when they design the exam: is it your ability to express an idea in the Chinese language, or your ability to write Chinese characters?

Typing an essay in an exam isn't unheard of. For example, you have to type the writing part of the GRE exam, friend at law school told me that everyone there needs a laptop to type exam answers in class, etc

For Chinese this would naturally involve some logistic issues: can I use a great pinyin input system, such as Sogou (which remembers both chengyu and tang poetry), or a crappy pinyin input system?

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anonymoose

But the thing is, it is assumed one can write by hand if one takes the GRE exam, and regardless of whether one can in fact write by hand or not, it is not the objective of the exam to test that.

On the other hand, if you're learning a language such as Chinese, which probably as its most significant aspect in relation to other languages is its writing system, one would have thought that this would at least constitute a part of the assessment criteria in the written exam. If the objective of the exam is to only test your ability to express an idea in the Chinese language, then they might as well just allow people to write in pinyin for the exam.

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roddy

All they need to do is let people have the choice and have a note on the certificate. There's such a massive disconnect in Chinese between the ability to write characters and the ability to write an article that it makes a lot of sense. You're effectively talking about two entirely different skills.

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Meng Lelan
Yes. Maybe they should allow one to take the exam in English as an accomodation to those who don't know Chinese.

That's not what I meant. I was referring to disabled exam takers who do know Chinese and want to demonstrate competency in Chinese, but have a physical disability such as deafness, cerebral palsy, etc.

The physical act of using the hands (or in some rare cases the mouth or feet, I actually know some students who do that) to write is a motor function. The cognitive act of composiing words to create a coherent essay is not a physical function. I'm assuming this test is supposed to gauge the cognitive aspect of using Chinese to communicate.

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anonymoose

Yes, I know what you meant. Sorry, I was just being facetious with that comment.

If the objective of the exam is only to assess the cognitive aspect of using Chinese to communicate, then I agree with you.

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ironlady

Should we test the ability to incise characters into turtle shells? There was a time when that was THE way to write Chinese.

Languages evolve both in usage and structure and in the way communities use them. I see no utility in testing a skill (mechanical literacy -- producing characters by hand from memory) that is simply not necessary in modern life for an educated, literate native speaker functioning in the target culture.

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ironlady

Pinyin writing is, IMHO, not sufficient to demonstrate proficiency in modern Chinese ca 2010, simply because literate native speakers cannot necessarily read it.

It is all about how you choose to define proficiency, and what the exam is actually measuring, and how those two are related.

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anonymoose
I see no utility in testing a skill (mechanical literacy -- producing characters by hand from memory) that is simply not necessary in modern life for an educated, literate native speaker functioning in the target culture.

There are different degrees of "not necessary". Yes, people can function in society with various limitations, such as being unable to see, walk, speak and so on, and of course, people can also function even if they are illiterate. So by your definition, sight, ambulatory capacity and speech are also not necessary, in the same way that the ability to write by hand is not necessary.

But if you objectively observe how a large portion of Chinese society functions on a day to day basis, you will see that writing by hand is still used extensively. Perform any non-trivial transaction at a bank or post office, and the chance is that you will be filling out forms by hand. If you are a waiter or waitress in a restaurant, you are more than likely to be scribbling down an order by hand. If you are a teacher or instructor, there will undoubtedly be occasions where you need to write by hand on the blackboard. If you are a secretary, you will be constantly taking notes by hand.

Even if computer technology has replaced handwriting in 90% of instances, that still leaves many occasions when information is written down by hand. So yes, handwriting is "not necessary" from a life or death point of view, but the reality is that it really still is very much necessary for practical purposes for any average educated person in China.

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elliott50

Hot news (at least for me), it looks like the HSK is going online...

A Hanban news item from August 2010 says that a new on-line version is being developed, see here.

And the report from the "Open University" like institute that piloted the new version in June 2010 can be seen here.

Interestingly, the OP seems to be right, the electronic test seems to allow for either pinyin or pen input. A Google translation of the relevant paragraph from the pilot institution report follows:

In the text input mode at the same time provide a keyboard and digital pen in two ways: candidates generally reflect the HSK test network using the keyboard input methods, better ability to practice with the Chinese combination of fast and convenient; and for not yet familiar with keyboard input The candidate provides a written exam and paper to write similar way - digital pen, freedom of choice for candidates.

Since you can't yet do above level 3 of the new HSK in the UK, it would make sense to me if it all moved on-line... especially as that would allow more control from the centre (and perhaps more revenue too).

...and when the new HSK can be taken using pinyin, rather than handwriting, I will be first in line!

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