Checks on language standards
The Government will monitor Chinese-medium schools planning to teach senior forms in English, to ensure students' language abilities are of a high enough standard to make the switch, the education chief has said.
In an interview with Education Post, Secretary for Education and Manpower Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun expressed concern about some Chinese-medium schools which had not fully consulted parents before the switch to teaching Secondary Four students in English in September.
Two-thirds of about 300 Chinese-medium secondary schools, which were forced in 1998 to switch to teaching in Chinese under the mother-tongue teaching policy, have decided to teach their Secondary Four students in English from September.
These students have been taught in Chinese to Secondary Three since they joined their schools in 1998. Schools planning to switch intend to use English in some or all subjects at senior forms in the new school year.
Mrs Law said only a few Chinese-medium schools planned to use English for all subjects. 'As far as we know, most schools opt to switch to teaching only one or two subjects in English in senior forms. Some Chinese-medium schools have spent much effort in strengthening the English proficiency of their junior form students. If their English bridging programmes are effective, their students should be able to learn in English when they are promoted to Secondary Four,' she said. According to the Medium of Instruction Guidance for Secondary Schools issued in 1997, Chinese-medium schools which plan to teach senior forms must demonstrate to the Education Department that their teachers are capable of teaching in English and students' English standards are adequate. 'We trust the professional judgment of the schools concerned and we shouldn't chase them with cameras,' she said. 'But we have not blindly accepted the switch. The Education Department has alerted the schools where we suspect their students' proficiency in English is inadequate.'
The department would send inspectors to monitor schools to ensure their use of English benefited students, she said.