PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 June, 2007, 12:00am

What can be done to protect white dolphins?

Shipping in the area seems to be a major problem.

Would it be possible to enforce strict shipping lanes for vessels to travel in?

Fishing boats trawl in these areas. They often carry two sets of registration numbers, so it is difficult to know where they come from. While their speed would not be a problem for the dolphins, it does mean that other vessels moving at greater speed have to divert into areas where the dolphins are located. Who controls this type of fishing? Is it the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department?

Projects such as the Zhuhai to Lantau bridge and the proposal to construct a pipeline from the Sokos to Black Point - right through their grounds - should be scrapped.

The third runway is probably inevitable, and its location will need to be carefully considered.

Unless we do something positive I think these dolphins will not be there for future generations to enjoy.

Gordon Andreassend, Kowloon

What do you think of students' English proficiency?

Having been a private tutor for eight years and currently an instructor in a post-secondary institution, I have witnessed a decline in students' English proficiency over the past 10 years.

In the past, students still managed to write comprehensible sentences despite a few grammatical errors, such as prepositions and tenses confusion, but this is no longer the case.

It is true that Hong Kong students are good at multiple-choice language questions, but they cannot write an error-free sentence to express themselves. It is also true that students can learn English grammar when being taught in a communicative approach. But this is true only when learners are immersed in an English-speaking environment - where they speak and listen to the language, in other words, where the learners are native English speakers. The communicative approach works best when students have a solid language foundation that gives them hints to correct their own language errors when they are speaking or writing. However, how many Hong Kong students have the luxury of living in such an English-speaking environment?

I have heard that some academics in Britain are complaining about the standard of English contained in the essays of some of their students. I think this problem has been caused by the abandonment of traditional grammar drills in the school curriculum.

I don't mean that the communicative approach should be banned, but the sole emphasis on communicative abilities is problematic. Grammar drills are necessary, and should be kept in the public exam. A more sensible suggestion to balance the two would be to give students grammar and communicative tasks in a ratio of seven to three in primary schools. In secondary school, the ratio of grammar drills could be reduced to four or five, leaving more room to develop students' communicative abilities.

But however hard we, as educators, try to improve our approaches to teaching, we will make little progress if learners keep playing their portable game machines in class.

Agnes Chan, Lam Tin

As a secondary school student, I understand the problem students have with their English proficiency.

Doing a lot of English exercises is not enough. We do too many exercises, which are part of our spoon-fed education system.

Most students have little chance of talking to native English-speaking teachers.

Schools focus too much on grammar, even though I accept it is important. We seem to have endless grammar lessons and I wonder if this really improves students' English comprehension?

What students need to do is read, listen and write more and they need to have more opportunities to practise speaking the language. The more you are exposed to language, the better you will be at understanding it.

Tai Kwun-kit, Sheung Shui

Does the city need a children's commission?

As a mother of two children, I fully support a children's commission for Hong Kong.

It frustrates me to see that when decisions are made on the use of resources in Hong Kong, the needs of children are not taken into account. Hong Kong is such an affluent city and more resources should be invested in children. They need to be given a more favourable environment in which to grow up.

In the last Legco election, my older son asked me why none of the candidates made any mention of children. If we have a children's commission, the voice of children will be heard.

Kathy Wong, Tseung Kwan O

On other matters...

We should think first before increasing electricity and petrol prices and taking all kinds of other measures which don't look at the problem of pollution.

I live in South Horizons, in Ap Lei Chau. I did a very rough calculation and reckon there are about 28,000 light bulbs burning 24 hours a day in public corridors, stairwells and other areas. There is no point in this as these areas are used for around three hours a day.

A light bulb with a motion sensor and delay 'off' timer shouldn't cost much more than around HK$150 each. The cost of these bulbs will be covered by the savings which are made.

After the funds are recouped, there could be a reduction in management fees. Less energy would be consumed. This would reduce the levels of pollution, making our air fresher and our planet cooler.

We can all do our bit by reporting the wasteful use of lighting. Only in this way will our business-oriented government open its eyes and see what needs to be done. 'Business run' government will open its blinded eyes to see what needs to be done.

Hong Kong is not short of sun and wind and yet we have no solar power and we have one meagre windmill on an island.

Creating different pricing for electricity during peak or non-peak hours will result in more businesses leaving lights on at night, as it is relatively cheaper.

The government cannot just please a few business moguls who seem oblivious to the needs of our environment. From Hong Kong Island, it would be nice to be able to see the outlying islands more often with the naked eye.

Marco Veringa, Ap Lei Chau