Experts study mixed-language proposal
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A study will be completed by 2003 to determine whether to extend dual-mode teaching - allowing some subjects to be taught in Cantonese and others in English - education officials said yesterday.
The Education and Manpower Bureau announced on Friday that the existing 114 English-medium schools would be retained until the 2003/2004 academic year.
Deputy Secretary for Education and Manpower Raymond Young Lap-moon, who is responsible for the medium of instruction, said the Government was considering introducing dual-mode teaching, and would commission academics to conduct a three-year study on the topic. A number of secondary schools will be invited to join a pilot scheme.
Under the mother-tongue teaching policy, an English-medium school is not allowed to teach any subject in Cantonese from Secondary One to Three while a Chinese-medium school cannot teach any subject in English except English itself.
Mr Young said the Government had no idea which subjects could be taught using the dual-mode system. 'But many educators believe that, for an English-medium school, it might not be good to teach language-intensive subjects such as history at junior forms in English,' he said.
Meanwhile, some members of the Joint Working Group on Medium of Instruction, who advise on policy, said that retaining the 114 English-medium schools for three more years had caused uncertainty and left many crucial issues unresolved.
Amy Tsui Bik-may, group member and head of the curriculum department at the University of Hong Kong, said there would not be any objective mechanism to assess the language abilities of primary school students following the abolition of the Academic Aptitude Test on July 4.
A school may now teach in English if more than 85 per cent of its students in the Secondary One intake are judged to be able to learn in the language.
The assessment of teachers' English-language proficiency is another area of concern. Working group chairman Tse Pak-hoi said the members unanimously agreed that teachers in English-medium schools had to meet 'a certain standard' if their schools wished to continue teaching in English.
'But we believe that the assessment mechanism for teachers delivering courses in non-English subjects should be as strict as the benchmark assessment for the English-subject teachers,' he said.