I am writing in response to the article "English is essential to HK's identity" (South China Morning Post, September 11). It was a wrap-up of what the speakers had to say about the city's English standards at the Redefining Hong Kong series, organised by SCMP.
Some said the standard of English in Hong Kong has dropped. As a Hong Kong student, I worry about my own English. In the article, Kelly Yang, who runs an English learning programme for students, says that 90 per cent of primary school teachers use Cantonese to teach English. This happened in my primary school. Now that I am a secondary school student, I struggle to understand English if my teacher talks too quickly.
Some of the speakers stated that the government needs to urgently rethink its education policy, including small-class teaching, curriculum and the supply of effective foreign teachers for kindergarten and primary schools, to improve students' listening and speaking. I agree with that idea, but I think there should be a local teacher with the foreign teacher. This is because if the students are unable to understand the foreign teacher, the local will be able to help.
English should not only be a concern of schools and the government. Parents should support their children in their quest to learn English. If students want to enter university, they need to work harder to boost their language skills.
Jenny Sit, King Ling College
From the Editor
Thank you for your letter, Jenny. The irony is that Hong Kong students have a wealth of English resources. Everywhere in Hong Kong, there are people and publications and other media that encourage you to speak the language. There are English channels on TV and radio, and English newspapers like the SCMP.
There are even teen-focused newspapers like Young Post that are published especially to help young Hongkongers improve their English, not to mention free books in libraries just begging to be read.
So you are absolutely right. Students need to make English their business and find a way to learn, instead of expecting the information to be magically transported into their brains.
Susan Ramsay, Editor