A lack of consensus on medium of teaching

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 July, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 July, 1998, 12:00am

All secondary schools, except for the 114 that have been exempted, will be teaching in the mother tongue this year.

The switch has caused heartache and controversy, with many parents angry their children will not be taught in English.

Statistics show the standard of education has dropped in recent years. Many students have a poor command of English and cannot understand other subjects taught in the language.

Educators have suggested students with poor English skills are better off being educated in their mother tongue.

However, parents want their children to have a good grounding in English, which they see as a symbol of prestige.

They say a good command of English, an international language, is essential for a good career in Hong Kong or abroad.

Also, parents fear schools will end up with the worst students if they teach in Chinese.

Some schools will still be teaching in English although many students and even some teachers are incompetent in the language.

Some pupils have difficulty following the textbooks and waste too much time preparing and translating English texts.

Even senior students fail to express themselves in either language.

How do pupils take to the new system? Weaker pupils say they prefer being taught in Cantonese because they find the lessons interesting now they understand what is being said.

Others are critical of the move, saying it deprives them of the chance to become bilingual.

They regard English as a global language which is 'a must'.

Use of English is also a requirement for entering university.

You also need to be bilingual to get a good job.

Employers say they need employees who can speak, write, and make presentations in English.

Although mother-tongue education is now a fait accompli, the Education Department should have given 'firm guidance' instead of forcing it down people's throats.

English standards will never improve if students are not exposed to the language.

Schools should make learning more interesting, for example, by organising English weeks, debates, composition contests and poetry appreciation lessons.

The language should be introduced at a younger age. In this way, youngsters would have more exposure to it.

Wai-man is a student at Ming Kei College