Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Why is English so easy and Chinese so hard?

Currently a student has to achieve level 3 in both Chinese and English in the DSE to qualify for university in Hong Kong. Hence making Level 3 the passing grade for Chinese and English.  The passing rates for Chinese (52.6%) and English (52.4%) are almost identical.   It sounds as if Chinese and English are equally important, and treated equally.  

However, many students in the universities have difficulties understanding lectures in English, reading textbooks in English, and carrying a conversation in English. 

On the other hand, practically all of the students taking the DSE do understand spoken Chinese, can read books in Chinese, and carry a conversation in Chinese.  Yet as many as 47.4% of them fail in Chinese. 

Obviously many of the students who achieve Level 3 in English are not very good in English, at least not really good enough to study in English.  Yet many of those who gets less than Level 3 in Chinese are perfectly capable of studying in Chinese.  In fact, all the universities in Hong Kong are supposed to be teaching in English.  One does not need to be good in Chinese to study in the universities in Hong Kong.  

What, then, is the purpose of making Chinese so hard, and English so easy, in the DSE?  Political correctness, perhaps?


YTSL said...

On a language note: Hong Kong is one of the few places in the world where I have found more older people fluent in English than younger ones.

A 60-something year old told me it's because when he was young, there was no Canto-pop and he and his peers would listen to -- and learn English by way of -- English pop songs. But it seems that more than pop songs are the reason for the deterioration of English -- and the often continued viewing of it as a colonial language rather than an international one.

StephenC said...

There is certainly more emphasis on Putonghua since 1997. There are fewer English TV programs, fewer English newspapers, and fewer use of English in general. More and more professors speak Putongua fluently but struggle with English.