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Confucius Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Sponsored by the Confucius Institute (CI) Headquarters, the CI at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) was established jointly by the College of Education, the Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies, and Jiangxi Normal University (JXNU) in November of 2013. The institute aims to deliver the resources for students and local community members to learn Chinese culture and language, to construct a center for non-native Chinese speakers to take the Chinese language proficiency test (HSK), and, uniquely, to provide a platform for conducting research on the improvement and development of the HSK exam.

The HSK exam, developed by the Office of Chinese Language Council International (Hanban), is a Chinese language test for non-native speakers assessing the candidates’ abilities to communicate in Chinese during work, at school, and in daily life. With over 5 million test takers and over 900 testing centers established in 108 countries, the exam is quickly becoming one of the world’s most-used foreign language assessments. As UIUC is the home institute for many scholars in psychological and educational measurement, the CI is working very closely with the faculty and doctoral students in the Department of Psychology, Educational Psychology, and Statistics at the UIUC on conducting cutting-edge research related to the HSK exam. A sampling of this research includes examining the psychometric properties of the HSK paper-and-pencil test, writing programs for automated test assembly, developing the computerized and web-based HSK, and obtaining cognitive diagnosis information from the exam to facilitate Chinese language learning. In May 2014, our institute successfully delivered the computer programs for automated assembly of test forms for the HSK at all 6 levels. Currently, our researchers are conducting exploratory analyses for the HSK Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) system. More information about our research on HSK test development can be found under the Research section.

Our Confucius Institute is also working on setting up an HSK testing center on the UIUC campus. The proposal was submitted to UIUC in April 2014. There are over 100 testing centers for the HSK exam in the US, including at many other institutes of higher learning, such as the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, New York University, and Johns Hopkins University, have established HSK testing sites. With the testing center, students at UIUC will have easy access to the HSK exam. Moreover, our testing site will be one of the first to implement the computerized and web-based HSK that we are developing. The test takers will provide valuable empirical data for our research and further refinement and development of the HSK exam.

The co-founder of the CI at UIUC, Jiangxi Normal University, is a higher learning institute in Nanchang, Jiangxi, China. One of the best psychometrics programs in China is located there. To learn more about Jiangxi Normal University, please visit our page on JXNU. Academic exchanges between UIUC and JXNU date back to 2009, with the founding of the CI at UIUC further promoting the cultural and academic interactions between the two institutions. We have had several visiting scholars from Jiangxi Normal University come here to conduct research related to testing under the supervision of Dr. Hua-Hua Chang, actively participating in the tasks of our CI. In December 2014, 13 UIUC doctoral students and faculty formed a delegation to attend a 10-day Chinese Language Testing Technology Research and Exchange winter camp in China, during which the delegation presented at an academic exchange conference at JXNU, the co-sponsor of the trip. In 2015, a group of students from Jiangxi Normal University will attend the newly established Educational Measurement Master’s Program at the UIUC Department of Education.

Closely collaborating with the Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies, the Asian American Cultural Center, and the Chinese Student and Scholar Association at UIUC, our Confucius Institute provides a variety of outreach programs and events to promote Chinese culture and language learning. In 2014, we hosted and participated in multiple activities and lecture series, such as the International Day event at Edison Middle School in Champaign, the monthly Chinese Culture Exploration Day for children adopted from China and their families, and the Confucius Day Open House at UIUC. We will continue to explore ways to provide resources for Chinese culture and language learning and to promote the engagement of members of the University of Illinois and local residents, such as offering community workshops and developing an online channel on language learning, among others. Details about our past events, pictures, and video recordings are listed in News, Event, and Presentation sections. For information on our future events, check out our calendar.

With the mission of increasing the accessibility of Chinese culture and language, the Confucius Institute at UIUC strives to provide full support and adequate resources to everyone interested in learning and exploring Chinese language, culture, and society, by offering programs and activities tailored for different populations and interests, making the language proficiency test for studying and working in China available on campus, and developing a more efficient and valid HSK exam that can further assist learning.

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