O-level Higher Chinese exam to include oral component from this year

This year's candidates for O-level Higher Chinese will be the first batch to be examined for their oral skills, in addition to written competency, Lianhe Zaobao reported yesterday.

In response to questions from the Chinese daily, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said the exam formats for O-level higher languages will be adjusted starting from this year, with Higher Chinese being one of them, to ensure that the curriculum and examination criteria are more closely aligned.

Previously, the O-level Higher Chinese exam comprised two papers focusing on composition and reading comprehension.

From this year, there will be a third component assessing listening and speaking skills.

The MOE added that a review committee in 2010 had suggested incorporating an oral component into higher language exams to help strengthen students' oral abilities.

Unlike the oral examination for Chinese as a second language, in which candidates read out a passage, Higher Chinese candidates will first be given 10 minutes to view a narrated video and take notes.

The candidate will then be given two minutes to present his or her views on the topic to the examiner, after which the examiner will pose questions and have a dialogue with the candidate.

There may also be new elements in the two written papers, including sections on correcting problematic sentences and even on the use of language in blogs.

Teachers interviewed welcome the changes, which they said will make the assessment more holistic and more relevant to students' everyday lives.

Lin Yangchen

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2016, with the headline 'O-level Higher Chinese exam to include oral component from this year'. Print Edition | Subscribe