Monday, January 12, 2009

Using English in Hong Kong

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?


The Cat said...

Do we, as a community, really care enough about having a racially and culturally diverse community? Are we really interested enough in other people?

Or do we just care about learning English as a tool for making money?

Ultimately, I believe that the two go hand in hand. You can't have a society that cares to provide a good environment for learning English unless it is interested enough in other cultures.

Unfortunately, I do not think that Hong Kong is tolerant or open-minded enough.

(The same also applies to America. That's one of the most monolingual countries around. Its people are also quite uninterested/ignorant in other cultures.)

田园树 said...

I support using English.
Most people can speak Chinese well. Learn Chinese in primary school is enough for me I think.

StephenC said...

Yeah. Please see my next post.