As a Form Five student who has been learning English for almost 15 years, I think I have the right to say this: "English simply shouldn't be learned this way." I have learned English in tutorial centres, international schools and even in foreign countries. After all that, I have to say I'm disappointed by the local school system's inability to help students learn interactively and creatively.
Education is meant to inspire, not to restrain. But teachers' heavy emphasis on absolutely correct grammar has restrained students' creativity and learning. They also focus too much on memorisation. That's fine if you're a beginner, but as your proficiency improves, shouldn't memorisation play less of a role?
So, what would be a better way of learning English? I read, listen and speak it intensively. I watch English TV programmes and try my best not to read the subtitles. After three weeks, I can understand the programme by just listening.
Students shouldn't have to memorise grammar rules. English is a language and should be learned in a livelier way.
Toby Yeung Tsz-him, Sha Tin Government Secondary School
From the Editor
Thank you for your letter, Toby. We agree. The way English is taught in many schools in Hong Kong would suck the joy out of it for anyone. You need to practise, you need to talk, and you need to read for pleasure. At Young Post, we often face the question about what we should print for our readers. Do they want more "English exercises", or would they rather have something new and interesting to read in good English?
With Hong Kong's narrow focus on exam results, it is easy to see why teachers try to break down the language into its rules and sections. But there is not enough focus on using the language. As an English teacher said, you can read as much as you can about football, but until you actually play the game, you will not be a football player. It's the same with English. We need to start playing.