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Language Proficiency Testing for Chinese as a Foreign Language

An Argument-Based Approach for Validating the Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK)


Florian Meyer

How did the (old) Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK) assess the Chinese proficiency of non-native speakers of Chinese? What inferences can be derived from HSK test taker scores, especially from Western test takers? How difficult is it to learn Chinese according to the HSK? Thirty years of research have been synthesized into an argument-based approach for validating the most widespread test for Chinese as a foreign language. In addition, the author has analyzed the scores of a sample of over 250 German test takers in order to investigate how many hours German natives needed on average to study for reaching a specific HSK level. This work also extensively discusses validation theory for psychological testing, and it demonstrates how to put an argument-based approach to validation into practice.
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4.4.2 Concurrent validity of the HSK


During the pretest stage in 1986, BLCU conducted an initial empirical study comparing HSK results with achievement test results at the end of the academic year. There were only ten days in between both tests.313 Thus, test takers’ abilities could not have changed very much. Liú Yīnglín ([1988b] 1989) found that test takers ← 193 | 194 → who had scored better on the HSK also received better results on the achievement tests (p. 47). Table 53 demonstrates the result of this study:

Table 53: HSK scores vs. BLCU final academic year language classes test results.

The achievement test score is the mean of four tests in three different “courses” (no further information given, but probably oral classes, written classes, etc.). Taken from Liú Yīnglín, [1988b] 1989, p. 47.

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