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LTRC 2018: Symposia (1)
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China’s Standards of English Language Ability: Impetus for Change in Language Learning, Teaching and Assessment

Han Yu (Chair); Jianda Liu, Lianzhen He, Wenxia Zhang, Sha Wu, Barry O’Sullivan, Nick Saville, Yan Jin


China’s role on the world stage has seen a shift in its position as a significant global diplomatic power. This has been most publicly seen in the recently launched One Belt One Road Initiative, which has been described by the UK’s Guardian newspaper (May 12, 2017) as “an immensely ambitious development campaign through which China wants to boost trade and stimulate economic growth across Asia and beyond.” To support China’s development in the new era with talents of high quality, important changes have been implemented across the education system in China. Especially in foreign language education, great attention is given to the introduction of formative assessment and a shift away from teaching to the test to the cultivation of core communicative competencies.

In 2014, the State Council of China decreed that a new assessment system of foreign languages should be constructed to generate a comprehensive reform in foreign language education in China. As an important part of the proposed system, the development of the China’s standards of foreign languages was commenced in 2014, and since English was the foreign language with the largest population of learners in China, the China’s Standards of English Language Ability (CSE) became the initial focus.

The CSE, specifically related to the Chinese EFL context, is expected to provide a set of transparent and consistent standards of English proficiency to enhance the communication between English teaching, learning and assessment. To be released by the Ministry of Education in early 2018, the CSE is hoped to set an example for the development of standards for other foreign languages.

This symposium aims to present the background, theory, and empirical studies relating to the development of the CSE, together with the implications and applications of the CSE both inside and outside China. Four presentations are prepared to cover the topic from the following perspectives.

1.     the background, the rationale, and the theoretical framework of the CSE;

2.     the development process of the CSE exemplified by a case study of listening;

3.     the potential impact of the CSE in the Chinese education system;

4.     a set of procedures to be used when claiming a link to the CSE by local and international tests.

The symposium will start with a brief introduction, leading to four 20-minute presentations, followed by a 15-minute discussion and a 20-minute Q&A session.

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