British Columbia

Traditional Chinese medicine students in B.C. can no longer write final exams in Chinese language

A traditional Chinese medicine educator is raising concerns about a decision to stop offering final exams for students in Chinese language.

Petition launched to keep Chinese language option for candidates who want it

Historically, B.C. students of Traditional Chinese medicine have had the option of taking exams in Chinese. The regulatory body that oversees these exams has decided to offer them only in English. (Diego Cervo/Shutterstock)

As of this fall, students studying traditional Chinese medicine in B.C., will no longer have the option to take their exams in the Chinese language, causing a stir in among students and teachers. 

The Canadian Alliance of Regulatory Bodies of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists, also known as CARB-TCMPA, said in a statement that the work associated with translating and preparing exams in languages other than English creates additional costs and can be time consuming.

Dan Garcia, executive director with the CARB-TCMPA, said translation fees are $4,500, making the total cost of examinations somewhere between $5,000 and $5,700. 

"That is unfair to candidates and introduces a financial barrier to the profession," Garcia said. 

Since the news of the change came out, there has been "huge outcry" among the teaching community and students, according to John Yang, chair of the Traditional Chinese Medicine Department at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

An online petition to allow students to continue taking exams in Chinese has garnered over 1,700 signatures as of Friday, and has been endorsed by the British Columbia Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Practitioners

To hear the Early Edition's interview with John Yang, click below: 

The change is a problem for students who are proficient in Chinese, according to Yang, because the practice is so old and was originally recorded in traditional Chinese. Some nuances have been lost in translation so anyone who can read and understand the original text has an advantage, he said. 

"In the English dictionary, there is no one-to-one translation for every concept," he told The Early Edition host Stephen Quinn. 

According to Garcia, 11 per cent of candidates in Canada use the translated exams. Yang recognizes that the majority of students in B.C. take the exam in English, but it's important to offer it in the traditional language for those who are able. 

"When there is a question or debate arising, we will always go to the origin of Chinese doctrine or textbook to find an answer, so that's why it is important to keep the Chinese language in the traditional Chinese medicine profession," Yang said.

With files from The Early Edition