Language worry

Language worry

Students concerned about teachers with poor skills

Poor scores in the Language Proficiency Assessment for Teachers (LPAT) have raised concerns over whether many of the candidates are qualified to do their job. This year 2,226 teachers took the Putonghua assessment, while 1,739 sat for the English exam. In both groups, candidates showed a need for improvement in their language skills.

In the English assessment, teachers were tested on four skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening. They did worst overall in writing, with 55 per cent failing the test. Examiners said many candidates made spelling mistakes and had limited vocabulary.

In the Putonghua exam, teachers were tested on their skills in listening, pinyin, speaking and language use. Most candidates struggled the hardest with pinyin. The passing rate was only 59 per cent.

The assessment report said candidates had trouble identifying different Chinese characters in writing and used Cantonese slang in speaking.

Students have been among those who questioned teachers' abilities.

"My confidence in a teacher will surely decrease if he or she fails the LPAT," said Sylvester Lau, 15, from Diocesan Boys' School. "If a teacher does not have adequate language abilities, it means he or she cannot teach the curriculum well enough, which is a huge problem for students."

He urged schools to provide courses for teachers to ensure they can speak English properly.

Ashwin Nair, 14, from La Salle College, agreed that the poor performance of the teachers in the LPAT was alarming.

"Once you find out that the teachers have failed their exam, you begin to wonder about their qualifications. We are supposed to learn English from professionals to flourish and advance. Under-qualified teachers place us at a disadvantage."

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