Power of words, actions

Power of words, actions

In this issue, Young Post talks to two of our six panel judges about the qualities necessary for this year’s winners in the Linguist and Community Contributor categories


Professor Cheng Kai-ming says it will be good if your words can makepeople think.
Professor Cheng Kai-ming says it will be good if your words can makepeople think.
Photo: Paul Yeung/SCMP
Professor Cheng Kai-ming
Chair Professor of Education, The University of Hong Kong
Judging Linguist Award

What qualities should the Linguist Award winner have?

You need to be a good user of the language, and be able to communicate your messages clearly to the receiver. Sometimes, arousing interest is more important than delivering a message, so it is good if your words can make people think.

A student who speaks five languages doesn't necessarily have a better chance of winning the award. However, the fewer languages you master, the harder it will be to show off your skills in different linguistic fields.

Why should a student learn more languages?

When you know more languages, you have more tools to interact with people from other parts of the world. Languages can also help you to learn more about other cultures. While English is a relatively young language, some languages such as French and German have a very rich cultural background. So it is important you attempt a third language. Whether you can use it fluently is a different matter, but at least you should start learning one.

How should a student choose which languages to learn?

Interest is the most important factor to consider. It doesn't matter if you choose Korean simply because you love K-pop music. But if you want to make a pragmatic choice, make Chinese and English "the core of an onion" as these are the most widely spoken languages in the world. The outer layer should be Spanish, which is extensively used in Latin America and the United States.

As for other languages, you could choose Russian (spoken in all Eastern European and Central Asian countries) and Arabic (spoken widely in Africa and the Middle East).

Dr Kim Mak (far right) urges children to be involved in community work.Photo: HKJC

Dr Kim Mak
Executive Director of Corporate Affairs, Hong Kong Jockey Club
Judging Community Contributor Award

What qualities should the Best Community Contributor have?

Contributing to the community is not just about what type of volunteer work you do or the number of hours you spend. It is about putting your heart into it. So we'll be looking for a student whose commitment has been exceptionally notable, someone who has gone the extra mile to help others, or who has overcome a lot of difficulties in his or her own life and is able to use the experience to help others.

Why is community service involvement important to students?

Academic subjects are important but they don't necessarily teach you about the real world. Only by getting out into the community and meeting people from different walks of life - especially those who are less fortunate - would you be able to gain a better understanding of life and a sense of purpose to your studies. The experience also teaches you other important life skills such as cross-cultural communication, empathy and teamwork. It may even inspire and influence your career path in future.

How early should children be encouraged to get involved in community service and why?

Hong Kong children tend to be pampered, so I think it's good for parents to encourage them to take part in community service at an early age. This can help them grow up to be socially responsible citizens. It will also help a lot if the parents themselves are active in community work. Things like caring about others and respect for the elderly are best taught by example.

It's never too young to get involved in community service - the earlier you start, the more it becomes ingrained in your psyche. Younger children can take part in fun activities like tree-planting, which teaches them the importance of caring

You might also like:

- Tiso Ho of Hong Kong Arts Festival and Prof Chung Pak-kwong of Baptist University reveals what they feel are needed qualities for this year’s winners

- Prof Alvin Leung of CUHK and Henry Lau of Simply Art and Young Artist Foundation shares their thoughts on the qualities necessary for this year’s winners: good all-round skills and creativity

- Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, Hong Kong Jockey Club's chief executive, talks about sponsoring the SCMP/HKJC Student of the Year Awards


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