Hong Kong: Education chief urges English emphasis

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Mon Jun 23 14:36:43 UTC 2008

Education chief urges English emphasis

Hong Kong's students must master English to ensure the country's
global competitiveness. This was the message today from Secretary for
Education Michael Suen, speaking at the Heung Hoi Ching Kok Lin
Association's Secondary & Primary Schools & Kindergartens. He shared
with students views raised among member economies at the fourth APEC
Education Ministerial Meeting he attended earlier this month.
"Discussions focused on enhancing the competencies of students and
developing the knowledge, skills and attitudes students must possess
to face the challenges of the 21st century. Member economies endorsed
the priority area of encouraging students to learn each other's
languages. This priority is seen as a key way to strengthen youths'
competitiveness in the global market and to understand other

Mr Suen said many member economies recognise the importance of English
in the international arena and in the business community, adding they
are committed to providing quality education by creating more
opportunities to enhance students' ability to communicate in English.
He said member economies recognise teacher quality is critical to
enhancing English learning, and teacher training and sharing of
teaching materials should be encouraged. "International trade and
financial businesses are mainly conducted in English. As Hong Kong is
a cosmopolitan city our young generation should possess a good command
of English to contribute to the development of our nation," he said.

English upgrades

Mr Suen said the Government has focused on promoting English teaching
in recent years and is reviewing the effectiveness of these measures
and exploring improvements. "We aim to further strengthen training of
teachers and encourage English language teachers to further their
studies to achieve higher standards. The Native-speaking English
Teachers scheme will also be improved."
The Education Bureau has implemented measures to improve students'
English proficiency. They include:

* the provision of native English-speaking teachers for primary and
secondary schools to create an English-speaking environment and to
liven up the teaching and learning of English;

* encouraging students to read English books and materials
extensively. Activities like debating, drama and English camps are
organised to arouse students' interest in learning English;

* improved teacher training, where all language teachers should attain
required qualifications and standards. Teachers teaching in English
are regularly taking part in professional development and training;

* financial support to raise English standards and to improve
opportunities for teachers to pursue further studies and to
participate in immersion programmes overseas.

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