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Speaking to be added to Korean proficiency test by 2015: official

Speaking will be added to the state-administered Korean proficiency test to encompass all modes of communication, reflecting the growing popularity of the Korean language, education officials said Sunday.

According to the Education Ministry and National Institute for International Education, the fifth section of the Test of Proficiency in Korean will undergo trial runs starting in 2015 in a bid to better gauge communicational skills.

The test currently has writing, listening, reading comprehension, vocabulary and grammar sections, and is developed for foreigners and ethnic Koreans to help employment in Korean companies or enrollment in Korean universities.

There have been numerous requests to add speaking to the list of skills tested, but due to the lack of standardized systems the calls have largely been dismissed.

Starting November, the NIIE will look to develop the speaking section through computer-based or Internet-based testing.

From 2015, the five-section TOPIK will be administered in the U.S., China and Japan.

Starting with only 2,692 applicants in four countries when the certification test was first administered in 1997, some 710,000 people in 39 countries have applied so far.

The test comes in two forms ― the Standard TOPIK which evaluates basic knowledge of the Korean language and culture, and the Business TOPIK which focuses more on the communication skills required for business transactions.

By Robert Lee (robert@heraldcorp.com)
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