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Korean language proficiency test to get easier

The government will simplify the state-managed Korean language proficiency test and increase the number of exams conducted every year in an effort to increase foreigners’ access to the Korean language and the test, authorities said Thursday.

Test of Proficiency in Korean, a test for non-Korean natives interested in attending school and working in South Korea, measures one’s ability to understand Korean grammar, writing, listening and reading.

Launched in 1997, TOPIK is offered four times a year in 61 countries around the world, including South Korea, for people preparing to work or study here as well as those wishing to work for South Korean firms’ overseas branches and plants.

The test’s administrator, the National Institute for International Education, said it plans to reduce the number of areas the test covers to three by incorporating grammar into the other areas. It said this reflects general opinion on the test.

Beginners will only take listening and reading tests as writing is considered too difficult for them, the institute said.

The authority will increase the number of times per year the TOPIK is offered to six to provide more convenience for exam takers, it added.

The institute will hold a public hearing on the reform plan Thursday with a goal of introducing the new system in the second half of this year.

The number of TOPIK applicants has steadily increased, rising from 2,274 in 1997 to 67,500 for the 32nd test scheduled for next month, according to the institute. In January this year, the accumulated number of applicants topped 1 million.

“We decided to remove writing from the beginner-level TOPIK in order to increase foreigners’ access to the Korean language as the global spread of hallyu has pushed up demand for learning the language,” a NIIED official said. “It would mark the first time that the TOPIK is reformed in a massive scale.” (Yonhap News)