[lg policy] Fewer than 40% of HK primary schools conduct Chinese language lessons in Cantonese

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Thu May 26 10:51:35 EDT 2016

Fewer than 40% of HK primary schools conduct Chinese language lessons in
Cantonese – survey
26 May 2016 09:00
Kris Cheng <https://www.hongkongfp.com/author/krischeng/>
3 min read

Fewer than 40 percent of local primary schools conduct Chinese language
lessons in Cantonese. Most use Mandarin partially, or fully, as the medium
of instruction, a new survey by the Neo Democrats party has revealed.

Teaching Chinese in Mandarin was a policy put forward by the Standing
Committee on Language Education and Research between 2008 and 2014.
The body was formed in 1996 to advise the government on language education
issues. The Education Bureau also provided supply teacher grants to
incentivise schools to follow the policy.
[image: Cantonese Mandarin Neo Democrats]

Neo Democrats showing differences in choices of word in Cantonese and
Mandarin. Photo: Neo Democrats.

The party urged the Education Bureau to suspend measures supporting the
policy, and to make its review of the policy public as soon as possible. It
also asked schools to consider reducing the number of classes
which followed the policy and return to teaching Chinese completely in
Cantonese over the coming year.

*Tai Po tops *

Of the 511 schools the party surveyed, 200 taught Chinese in Cantonese,
while 187 taught Chinese in Mandarin partially and 124 did so completely.

The party said over 50 percent of schools in Tai Po taught Chinese in
Mandarin completely – the highest ratio – followed by Kwun Tong and Tsuen

It added that parents needed to spend more time to help children
with revision and homework, as the Chinese curriculum was made more
difficult under the controversial Territory-wide School Assessment.
Students encountered even more difficulty when studying in Mandarin, the
party claimed.

“The legacy of language use is very important to pass on a society’s
culture,” said Roy Tam Hoi-pong, a district councillor and the party’s
spokesperson on education policy. “It is unfortunate that primary school
students have to use Mandarin – a Northern Chinese language – to learn
Chinese, it hinders the passing on of Cantonese.”
[image: The Education Bureau once admitted that teaching Chinese in
Mandarin may not be more effective.]

The Education Bureau once admitted that teaching Chinese in Mandarin may
not be more effective.

Tam said that students may learn to use terms uncommon in daily life, as
they were from Mandarin. He said that people may not understand and
find their choice of words awkward.

The party said it was “natural and right” to teach Chinese in Cantonese for
Hong Kong people, and that a separate Mandarin subject was enough for
students to master the language.

The Education Bureau stated on its website in 2014 that, “There is no solid
proof that students learning Chinese in Mandarin would improve their
Chinese level. Two research studies show that students who learn Chinese in
Mandarin and in Cantonese do not appear to differ in their Chinese language
skills. The former group may even have poorer performance.”

The statement was later removed.


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