Friday, January 09, 2009

“Fine Tuning” of Language Policy

The government submitted a proposal to “fine tune” the Medium of Instruction Policy in which the limits on teaching in English in the junior forms will be relaxed. Under the current policy, 114 “English Medium” secondary schools can, and must, teach in English. The other ~300 “Chinese Medium” schools must teach in Chinese.

There are two major items in the “fine tuning” proposal. Firstly, schools can run English-medium classes if 85% of the students in a class meet government criteria for being taught in English (in the top 40% of their age group). Secondly, up to 25% of lesson time in Chinese-medium classes can be in English. Since the English subject, by itself, can take up to 25% of lesson time, that would mean that in Chinese-medium classes, 50% of the classes can be in English.

Both supporting and opposing opinions have been expressed since the announcement, as expected. In my opinion, a proposal which gives more flexibility to the schools is in the right direction.

Considering the huge amount of resources, time, and effort that has been put into learning English in the schools in Hong Kong, the result is disappointingly poor. Many of the top ~16% of students that get into universities in Hong Kong are not really capable of learning in English. They have difficulties listening to lectures delivered completely in English. They have difficulties reading English text books and often rely on Chinese translations of English textbooks. They have difficulties writing reports and presenting their work in English.

Many are not ready when they leave secondary schools and enter university; even though many of them do get much better by the time they graduate from university. My conclusion is drawn from 15 years of teaching in a university and observations from other universities in Hong Kong.


Anonymous said...

I must thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this website.
I'm hoping to see the same high-grade blog posts from you in the future as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my very own blog now ;)
Feel free to visit my blog post : bbc football transfer news

Anonymous said...

I really like reading through a post that can make men and women think.
Also, many thanks for allowing me to comment!
Feel free to surf my web page - man utd transfer news today