My friend The Cat is right. We in Hong Kong tend to think of English as a tool. We learn it to get into a better school and a better job, to make more money.
Clearly this utilitarian view of the language is not strong enough motivation for most people to put enough efforts into learning the language. We go through the motions of setting up the systems and classes, we say the right things about how important it is, we fight to get our children into the “good” schools. In the end, however, the heart does not seem to be there. Even the teachers (many of them anyway) do not seem willing to make additional efforts to improve themselves.
We forget that English, just like any other language, is part of a culture. Without a deep appreciation of the context in which the language is used, the people who use the language, and the beliefs underlying the language, we cannot use the language properly. Learning the grammar is not enough. We will, at best, use the language mechanically. We need to be able to think and reason in the language. Not merely to translate our finished thoughts into it.
A genuine interest in other people is a much more sustainable, much more powerful, and much more healthy incentive to learn their language. Are we open minded enough to have that interest?