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US school's Chinese-language exam leaves native speakers speechless

Editor: zhangrui 丨Chinadaily

01-17-2017 08:07 BJT

A Chinese-language final exam paper at a high school in New York has left internet users amused and confused, reported guancha.cn on Saturday.

A screen grab shows the Chinese-language final exam paper reportedly from Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School in New York. [Photo/web]

A screen grab shows the Chinese-language final exam paper reportedly from Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School in New York. [Photo/web]

The CLA (Collegiate Learning Assessment) test paper for course FMS63 Chinese 3 was prepared for students in Foreign Language Department at Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School, a coeducational public school.

The paper had seldom-used Chinese characters and expressions and required examinees to have a deep understanding of Chinese history and culture.

The first section required examinees to provide synonyms of 10 characters and words. However, many internet users said they did not recognize even the first character, let alone its meaning or synonym.

The second asked students to give antonyms of 10 words and idioms. Again users were surprised as they did not know these expressions had antonyms until they saw the exam paper.

Unable to find the right answers, the users racked their brains to come up with their own answers.

A netizen, named BerlinBlossom, humorously gave the antonym of the idiom "Live in the silt but not imbrued" as "Live in the silt and imbrued".

Another internet user, Miraclemjmengxiangjia, came up with an ingenious way of creating an antonym by switching the order of characters in an expression. The idiom "stand out like a crane in a flock of chickens" was thus recreated to "stand out like a chicken in a flock of cranes".

The last section of the composition even made internet users question whether they were Chinese.

The paper gave examinees three topics, The Inspiration of Lotus, with philosopher Zhou Dunyi's essay "Ode to the Lotus Flower" in the Northern Song dynasty (960-1127) as a reference, Forever Zhaojun, referring to a famous female figure during the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24), and Reflection on "Fat Rat" written by Pu Songling during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

Internet users were shocked by the difficulty of the exam paper. A netizen, named Xizigebaozhale, said, "Now I understand what it feels like when English speakers sit for English-language tests for China's College Entrance Exam".

Another netizen, Bulade---pidan, said, "I learned Chinese for more than 10 years and now I discovered that it was not Chinese".

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