Hong Kong secondary schools may revert back to teaching in English

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Sat Jan 10 14:43:40 UTC 2009

Hong Kong secondary schools may revert back to teaching in English

Posted : Fri, 09 Jan 2009 09:12:40 GMT

Hong Kong - Up to 80 Hong Kong schools could be given the choice of
switching back to teaching in English, eleven years after a
"mother-tongue" policy ordered them to teach in Chinese, government
officials confirmed Friday. The proposal, submitted to lawmakers on
Thursday, is aimed at improving English-language standards which have
fallen since Hong Kong ceased to be a British colony in 1997. It
would, if approved, give a number of schools where a large proportion
of pupils are high-achievers the choice of teaching students in
English. Other secondary schools would have the option of using
English for one quarter of lessons.

Education Secretary Michael Suen announced the proposal along with a
package of support measures including scholarships aimed at attracting
graduates and training Chinese teachers to conduct classes in English.
However, he said schools would be prevented from publicising how many
classes they offered in English to avoid parents judging school
standards on the teaching medium. The controversial "mother-tongue"
policy, introduced shortly after the handover when Hong Kong reverted
to Chinese rule, has been blamed for falling language standards.

It has resulted in fierce competition for places in the remaining
English-medium schools and a sharp rise in the number of local
children applying to fee-paying international schools. Studies have
claimed English language standards have fallen and in November, a
survey of 2,000 Chinese professionals by the Polytechnic University
found English was still rated to be the most important business
language. English professor Dr Stephen Evans said the findings
suggested English has actually increased in importance since the
handover in the city of 6.9 million.


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