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Use of language assessment for decision-making: The HKDSE Chinese Language Speaking Examination
Language test is a common tool for inference of language ability. Based on these inferences, decisions can be made about individuals. For example, attaining Level 3 or above in Chinese Language and English Language in the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination (HKDSE) organised by the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA) is the minimum language proficiency requirement for university admission. In Hong Kong, nearly all candidates’ first language is Chinese. Unlike other places, the HKDSE Chinese Language is characterised by having a first language speaking examination. People may ask “Why do we need to assess speaking ability in the first language?”, “Are there any other elements included in the speaking examination?”, “What does language proficiency in HKDSE Chinese Language really mean?”, “How the assessment results of HKDSE Chinese Language speaking examination facilitate stakeholders to make decision?”. This paper first describes the specific content and structure of the HKDSE Chinese Language speaking examination. It then reviews some past papers, marking criteria and examination reports of the HKDSE Chinese Language speaking exam to illustrate what is being assessed and how stakeholders can refer to the assessment results to make relevant decision. Lastly, some suggestions on the future developments of the speaking examination will be discussed.
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