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Computerized Oral Proficiency Assessment (COPA)

Introduction

As a major international language training center, CLC offers language-related services, such as proficiency assessment in both Cantonese and Putonghua, in addition to its major tasks of teaching and publication of teaching materials and dictionaries.

 

COPA format, scales and explanations

COPA is an adaptation of the Chinese Speaking Test (CST) developed by the Center for Applied Linguistics in the United States. The examinee hears the test instructions and questions in their mother tongue (English, Japanese or Korean) from a master tape and then responds in the language (Cantonese or Putonghua). Responses will then be evaluated by two specially trained COPA raters. The test lasts for approximately 30-45 minutes, with tasks covering a wide range of topics and speech functions. The rationale in scoring the COPA is to find the level at which the examinee consistently fulfills the speaking functions.  Each COPA task presents the examinee with a speaking task of a defined level of difficulty on the Proficiency Guidelines developed by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). The ACTFL Guidelines describe aspects of speech, which characterize speakers at different levels of proficiency. These guidelines were developed in response to a movement in the language teaching community, stressing meaningful communication in the foreign language classroom.

COPA operational program

Proficiency assessment is one of the research areas pursued by CLC to better serve the growing needs of proficiency-oriented language teaching.  All assessment tools used by CLC are made available to the public so that learners who want their speaking proficiency assessed may obtain an objective evaluation based on testing and linguistics principles. Currently, COPA is available in Cantonese and Putonghua for English speakers, Japanese speakers, and Korean speakers.

Language proficiency certification

A certificate issued by CLC, with a description of the proficiency level attained by the examinee, will serve as an indication of his/her speaking ability and be used for various purposes (e.g. a supporting document for credit evaluation or proof of language ability for employment).

Score reporting

Official reports will be sent to examinees two months after the testing date. Two additional reports will be sent free of charge to institutions designated by the examinee at the time of the exam. All subsequent requests to send official reports directly from CLC will be charged HK$50 per copy (please make cheques payable to “The Chinese University of Hong Kong”)

COPA fees

Application fee: HK$100
Examination fee: HK$800 

 

Current CUHK and CLC students can take the exam at the special rate of HK$600.

Application fees will not be refunded once the application is accepted.

Testing dates available for the public

The test date is scheduled for the 15th of each month, or the following working day if the 15th happens to be on a  weekend or a public holiday.

Application procedure

Download the application form from the CLC website and return it together with a cheque for the corresponding examination fee amount (payable to “The Chinese University of Hong Kong”).  

 

Descriptor and certificate

 

Click here for sample cert

NOVICE

Language ability: Able to respond to simple questions, convey minimal meaning and satisfy a very limited number of immediate needs.

Language characteristics: Even sympathetic listeners may have difficulty understanding due to influence of mother tongue, limited vocabulary and broken sentences.

INTERMEDIATE

Language ability: Able to participate in simple conversations on predictable topics, obtain information by asking and answering questions, combine learned materials to communicate personal meanings, can satisfy basic personal needs and social demands.

Language characteristics: Sympathetic interlocutors can understand due to well-formed sentences with vocabulary to serve basic needs.

ADVANCED 

Language ability: Able to participate actively in conversations on various topics in some formal and most informal settings, handle a wide variety of speaking tasks with communicative strategies, deal effectively with unanticipated complications in oral communication, can satisfy the requirements of school and work situations.

Language characteristics: Most interlocutors can understand due to accuracy in the language used, including pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary, and to the use of paragraph-length discourse in narration and description.

SUPERIOR

Language ability: Able to participate fully and effectively in conversations on social, professional, and abstract topics in various settings, confident in using linguistic and communicative strategies to argue, support, explain, defend, hypothesize and discuss both concretely and abstractly, can satisfy scholarly and professional needs.

Language characteristics: Communication with native speakers, usually with good command of vocabulary and extended discourse if needed, is seldom affected by mistakes either in language or paralinguistic features.

 

*According to COPA guidelines, examinees with a “High” in the rating are considered to have obtained some of the language ability and characteristics of the level above.

 

Test sample and rating

Each question tests a specific language function:

IP (Intermediate with picture)

  1. Describing

  2. Explaining

  3. Providing directions

IN (Intermediate with no picture)

  1. Leaving messages

  2. Introduction (daily life)

  3. Offering information

  4. Expressing thanks

  5. Explaining (word-based)

  6. Illustrating

  7. Discussing

AN (Advanced with no picture)

  1. Complaining

  2. Refusing

  3. Apologizing

  4. Critizing

  5. Analyzing

  6. Comparing and contrasting

  7. Suggesting

  8. Expounding

  9. Narrating

  10. Promoting

  11. Introduction (semi-formal)

SN (Superior with no picture)

  1. Expressing an opinion

  2. Delivering a speech

  3. Speaking at meetings

  4. Expressing thanks in public

  5. Persuading

  6. Rebutting

  7. Congratulating

  8. Defending

  9. Call to action

  10. Introduction (formal)

 

Sample Putonghua question for COPA intermediate level

Question in English:

You are a new student enrolled in an exchange program in Jilin. One day you are talking with your Chinese classmates about hobbies and pastimes. One of them, Wei Nan, enjoys reading and asks you about the kinds of things you like to read. After you hear Wei Nan's question, tell him about the kinds of things you enjoy reading.

00:00 / 00:04

Cantonese speakers

Intermediate (I)

00:00 / 00:41

IntermediateHigh (IH)

00:00 / 00:41

Advanced (A)

00:00 / 00:41

Advanced High (AH)

00:00 / 00:41

Superior to Superior High (S to SH)

00:00 / 00:41

English/ Japanese/ Korean speakers

Intermediate (I)

00:00 / 00:51

IntermediateHigh (IH)

00:00 / 00:51

Advanced (A)

00:00 / 00:51

Advanced High (AH)

00:00 / 00:50

Superior to Superior High (S to SH)

00:00 / 00:52

Sample Putonghua question for COPA advanced level

Question in English:

While studying in Hong Kong, you are often invited to dine out. One day when you and your friends are talking in the dorm, the conversation turns to the advantages and disadvantages of eating at home as opposed to eating out. A friend asks you about your opinion on the matter, tell the group what you think by comparing the merits of eating at home and eating out.

00:00 / 00:08

Cantonese speakers

Intermediate (I)

00:00 / 01:01

IntermediateHigh (IH)

00:00 / 01:01

Advanced (A)

00:00 / 01:01

Advanced High (AH)

00:00 / 01:01

Superior to Superior High (S to SH)

00:00 / 01:01

English/ Japanese/ Korean speakers

Intermediate (I)

00:00 / 01:16

IntermediateHigh (IH)

00:00 / 01:15

Advanced (A)

00:00 / 01:16

Advanced High (AH)

00:00 / 01:15

Superior to Superior High (S to SH)

00:00 / 01:15

Sample Putonghua question for COPA superior level

Question in English:

You are at a farewell party given by your host organization in China for a group of teachers from your school, of which you are the leader. After the host makes a speech thanking you for the job you have done, you are invited to say a few words of thanks on behalf of all the teachers. During your one semester teaching in China, the host organization has been very helpful in many ways, making arrangements for accommodation, providing opportunities for teacher-student communication, doing the best they could to facilitate your teaching, and so on. Now think about what you want to say in this formal situation. After your Chinese host’s introduction, respond on behalf of your group,  expressing your appreciation for the hospitality of your host organization, acknowledging any inconvenience your group may have caused, and offering to reciprocate their hospitality.  As in a formal speech, end your talk with a toast.

00:00 / 00:05

Cantonese speakers

Intermediate (I)

00:00 / 01:31

IntermediateHigh (IH)

00:00 / 01:30

Advanced (A)

00:00 / 01:31

Advanced High (AH)

00:00 / 01:31

Superior to Superior High (S to SH)

00:00 / 01:31

English/ Japanese/ Korean speakers

Intermediate (I)

00:00 / 01:30

IntermediateHigh (IH)

00:00 / 01:30

Advanced (A)

00:00 / 01:31

Advanced High (AH)

00:00 / 01:30

Superior to Superior High (S to SH)

00:00 / 01:34

Sample Cantonese question for COPA intermediate level

Question in English:

You are a new student enrolled in an exchange program in Jilin. One day you are talking with your Chinese classmates about hobbies and pastimes. One of them, Wei Nan, enjoys reading and asks you about the kinds of things you like to read. After you hear Wei Nan's question, tell him about the kinds of things you enjoy reading.

00:00 / 00:03

Putonghua speakers

Intermediate (I) - N/A

IntermediateHigh (IH) - N/A

Advanced (A) - N/A

Advanced High (AH) - N/A

Superior to Superior High (S to SH) - N/A

English/ Japanese/ Korean speakers

Intermediate (I)

00:00 / 00:52

IntermediateHigh (IH)

00:00 / 00:52

Advanced (A)

00:00 / 00:52

Advanced High (AH)

00:00 / 00:52

Superior to Superior High (S to SH)

00:00 / 00:52

Sample Cantonese question for COPA advanced level

Question in English:

While studying in Hong Kong, you are often invited to dine out. One day when you and your friends are talking in the dorm, the conversation turns to the advantages and disadvantages of eating at home as opposed to eating out. A friend asks you about your opinion on the matter, tell the group what you think by comparing the merits of eating at home and eating out.

00:00 / 00:07

Putonghua speakers

Intermediate (I) - N/A

IntermediateHigh (IH) - N/A

Advanced (A) - N/A

Advanced High (AH) - N/A

Superior to Superior High (S to SH) - N/A

English/ Japanese/ Korean speakers

Intermediate (I)

00:00 / 01:18

IntermediateHigh (IH)

00:00 / 01:18

Advanced (A)

00:00 / 01:18

Advanced High (AH)

00:00 / 01:19

Superior to Superior High (S to SH)

00:00 / 01:18

Sample Cantonese question for COPA superior level

Question in English:

You are at a farewell party given by your host organization in China for a group of teachers from your school, of which you are the leader. After the host makes a speech thanking you for the job you have done, you are invited to say a few words of thanks on behalf of all the teachers. During your one semester teaching in China, the host organization has been very helpful in many ways, making arrangements for accommodation, providing opportunities for teacher-student communication, doing the best they could to facilitate your teaching, and so on. Now think about what you want to say in this formal situation. After your Chinese host’s introduction, respond on behalf of your group,  expressing your appreciation for the hospitality of your host organization, acknowledging any inconvenience your group may have caused, and offering to reciprocate their hospitality.  As in a formal speech, end your talk with a toast.

00:00 / 00:03

Putonghua speakers

Intermediate (I) - N/A

IntermediateHigh (IH) - N/A

Advanced (A) - N/A

Advanced High (AH) - N/A

Superior to Superior High (S to SH) - N/A

English/ Japanese/ Korean speakers

Intermediate (I)

00:00 / 01:34

IntermediateHigh (IH)

00:00 / 01:34

Advanced (A)

00:00 / 01:34

Advanced High (AH)

00:00 / 01:34

Superior to Superior High (S to SH)

00:00 / 01:34
 

Applying for COPA

Individual Application

  • Download the application form

  • Return the completed form together with a cheque for the corresponding examination fee amount to CLC. Cheque payable to “The Chinese University of Hong Kong”.

  • CLC will inform examinees on possible examination times and locations.

 

Group Application

Please contact clcexam@cuhk.edu.hk. Basic information is needed including number of examinees, student backgrounds and purpose of taking COPA as a group.