For once, I support the government’s proposal to “fine-tune” the policy on the medium of instruction. Giving more flexibility to the schools, and more opportunities for more students to learn in English is a step in the right direction. There will be problems in execution. But they are secondary issues.
A larger and harder issue is the environment for learning and using English in the community. The government officials, business leaders and parents say that English is important. But the community’s actions do not always reflect that emphasis. It is like we are schizophrenic, saying one thing and doing another.
There are now fewer English newspapers and readers. The English TV stations have become multi-lingual. English movies are now dubbed in Chinese. Local singers do not sing English songs any more. The government itself is using more Chinese and less English ...
The community is telling the students by its actions that English is less important than before. It is not willing to pay the price for the stated goal.
There are still many students with good English, most of them coming from elite schools. There are, however, also a number of them who learned to speak and write good English by their own efforts. They are not getting a lot of help from the community.
Do we, as a community, really have the will to help our children improve their English?