TOCFL Successfully Held in The Hague Despite COVID-19
With the 4th wave of the COVID-19 pandemic raging through Europe at the moment, many countries are back in a soft lockdown. Major events are prohibited, working from home is the norm again, and social distancing is still the general rule. This means that the organization of the TOCFL (Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language) tests is still very difficult: we not only have to act in strict accordance with the current government measures, but it’s also more difficult to have enough people willing to commute to the test location.
The Taipei School in The Hague hosted the tests during the second wave of the pandemic last year (2020). At that time the Dutch government had imposed some strict measures but luckily those measures didn’t apply to academic events. We enjoyed similar luck again this year, and the school was permitted to host the TOCFL tests on November 20, organized in conjunction. with the Education Division of the Taipei Representative Office in the EU and Belgium.
In comparison with normal times, this required a lot more strenuous effort on the part of the school personnel and the staff of the Education Division. Following the government regulations to prevent spread of the virus meant a lot of extra preparatory work, cleaning and disinfecting all the rooms that would be used, and then extremely close vigilance conducting the tests to ensure a safe environment for all the test takers. The staff made sure that people used disinfectant gel as they arrived, strictly maintained social distancing, and wore face masks at all times.
Despite the worsening pandemic situation, a total of 81 Chinese learners registered, a slightly higher number of applicants than the year before, and there was an overall attendance of 95%: 27 of the original 29 applicants sat for the Novice level tests; all 37 applicants sat for the Band A tests; 10 of the original 12 applicants sat for the Band B tests, and 1 of the original 3 applicants sat for the Band C tests. (Two people unable to attend had applied to sit for tests in more than one Band)
Chinese has been part of the education curriculum in the Netherlands since 2018, and the Dutch government is expecting the numbers of students learning to Chinese to keep on growing. It has been growing in popularity, especially in secondary schools. Last year more than 700 secondary students chose Chinese as an elective subject in their first year. Students can also choose this as an exam subject, and 264 students took the final exam in this subject compared to 232 last year.