Learning Chinese - Tests and the anxieties

Written by April Zhang on Thursday, 06 September 2018. Posted in Blogs

Learning Chinese - Tests and the anxieties

Learning Chinese can causes lots of anxieties, for both teachers and students. As the power structure goes, I suppose students suffer more. There are so many defeated students out there, more than defeated teachers. So this post is about students.

Among some possible sources for anxieties, such as a difficult language, too many characters to remember, and so on, one main source comes from purely artificial procedures – tons of tests. It has become quite a culture to observe how many tests students have to go through today. Before, I thought it was only a phenomenon in East Asia. But after being to the US a few times, I realized that, at least in the field of teaching and learning Chinese language, it is the same thing in the US.

Nowadays more and more Chinese learning materials are going online, and they almost always have a test element attached. This test element has become one of the major selling points, that teachers can "evaluate" and "quantify" students' progress at a few clicks. Individual test results can be aggregated over a semester or a year for people to view students' "quantified progress". Learning Chinese is thus turned into a series of tests. I have personally witnessed how dreadful students have become over these online learning exercises.

Some tests are perhaps necessary to gauge progress. But excessive, non-stopping tests are terrifying. 

About the Author

April Zhang

April Zhang

Chinese teacher Zhang Xuehong, aka April Zhang, is the author and developer at MSL Master.


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