A corpus-driven, curriculum-based Chinese elicited imitation test in US universities

Xun Yan, Yuyun Lei, Chilin Shih

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This two-phased study explored a corpus-driven, curriculum-based approach to assessing proficiency development of Mandarin Chinese in US universities. In Phase I, we developed an elicited imitation (EI) test based on the Chinese curriculum at a large US university. This test demonstrated higher psychometric qualities to (1) place L2 learners into three curricular levels, and (2) assess learners' production of key vocabulary and grammatical items, providing useful information for placement, diagnosis, and achievement purposes as compared with a non-curriculum-based EI test. In Phase II, we revised the EI test to make it applicable across university contexts. We identified a lexico-grammar core from a corpus-driven analysis of 36 widely-used Chinese textbooks in US universities and incorporated this core in EI item development. The revised EI test showed improved psychometric qualities. This study has broad methodological implications for the assessment of Chinese as well as other less commonly taught languages in university contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)704-732
Number of pages29
JournalForeign Language Annals
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • Mandarin Chinese
  • corpus linguistics
  • elicited imitation
  • language testing
  • less commonly taught languages

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language


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