BY LORETTA BRIGIDIA MANELE
FORTY-FIVE candidates have sat for the first official Mandarin proficiency test- TOCFL (Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language), Listening and Reading Test Novice level at the Solomon Islands National University (SINU) on November 26th.
According to SINU Mandarin teacher and test coordinator, Kuei Mi Li, most of them are her students who have only learnt the language for four to ten months.
She said one of the test takers, Joshua Ramo said he wanted to participate in the proficiency test to know what he learnt during the past year and what he needs to learn in the future.
Li stressed that while most of them found the test “easy”, it was also challenging, particularly in the in character reading section.
She adds that they are however, confident that they will pass the test and hope for more TOCFL tests in the future to help them progress their Mandarin.
Li voiced that she was very surprised that the students took the Mandarin Proficiency Test very seriously.
She mentioned that since announcing that the TOCFL test would be held in Solomon Islands she could feel that they were really motivated to excel and pass the exam.
“I believe most of them have done their best and I wish they will all pass level Novice 1 or Novice 2 this time and set a higher goal for the next test”, said Li.
Supervising the exam was SINU’s marketing officer, Estee Lonamei, a former Taiwan scholarship recipient who had sat for the same test in Taiwan.
He said this year’s candidates included a mixture of very young kids and adults.
Lonamei added that the kids appeared to be nervous about the exam setting but handled it pretty well.
He said sitting for the TOCFL test is very helpful for students here because it is the only means by which they will know their Mandarin level as it is a standardized test.
“I have sat 3 more difficult TOCFL tests while in Taiwan. The level they sat here is easy, however, I think it’s the best start as Solomon Islands is not a Mandarin speaking country”, said Lonamei.
Li said that this first TOCFL test is free and candidates will receive their transcript in about one month after the test.
With a large number of Asian business operating in Solomon Islands and investors coming in, learning Mandarin is vital not only for communication in business but as well for other areas such as tourism, education and job opportunities.