Twenty Years of Cambridge English Examinations in China: Investigating Impact from the Test-takers’ Perspectives

  • Xiangdong Gu
  • Nick Saville


In the wake of the political reforms which opened up China to the outside world in 1978, and with China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001, the Chinese economy has become increasingly integrated into the international community. In keeping up with globalisation more generally around the world, English has become widely accepted in China as a utilitarian tool for international mobility, study purposes and career development. This has been reflected in the way that English language teaching and learning has been introduced into compulsory education in China. In 2001, the Chinese government established a national policy whereby children start learning a foreign language (mainly English) from Grade Three in primary school (at age nine), instead of from Grade Seven in junior middle school as before. In line with these social, political and educational changes, English language education in China has also become internationalised. Along with the restoration of the National Matriculation Test (commonly referred to as Gaokao, in which English is a compulsory subject, with equal status to Chinese and Mathematics since 1983) in 1977 after a ten-year suspension, and the implementation of the National College English Test for students of non-English majors (CET) in 1987, an increasing number of internationally recognised English tests have been introduced into China.


English Proficiency English Language Learning Test Preparation English Learning Language Test 
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© Xiangdong Gu and Nick Saville 2016

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  • Xiangdong Gu
  • Nick Saville

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