Joint effort gives Putonghua a boost

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 September, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 September, 2006, 12:00am

Two local tertiary institutes have signed a three-year agreement with China's State Language Commission to promote the study of Putonghua in Hong Kong.

Under the agreement, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and the Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd) will be authorised to conduct the Putonghua proficiency test, supported by the commission.

The HKIEd had earlier collaborated with the commission in testing local students' Putonghua proficiency. Since the HKIEd established its Putonghua Training and Testing Centre (PTTC) in 1997, there has been a gradual increase in the number of students signing up for the programme.

The demand for qualified Putonghua teachers is on the rise, as more schools adopt the language as the teaching medium during Chinese lessons.

At a signing ceremony held at HKUST earlier this week, HKUST president Paul Chu Ching-wu said there was growing interest among students at his university in learning Putonghua.

'As Chinese nationals, we have a responsibility to speak Putonghua well. We hope to encourage our students to take advantage of this testing service to raise their Putonghua proficiency,' Professor Chu said.

Professor Yao Xishuang, PTTC manager under the commission, welcomed the opportunity to work with HKUST and pledged full support for the testing service.

Beginning early next year, the HKUST's language centre will conduct the Putonghua proficiency test and provide preparatory courses for its students, staff and alumni.

The centre has designed five learning modules - business negotiation, impromptu talk, interpretation, presentation and phonology (the study of pinyin) - to prepare candidates for the test.

Launched in 1994, the assessment tests the fluency of candidates who are required to read aloud phrases and short texts as well as conduct a conversation.

Candidates who have attained a certain standard will receive certificates.