PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 February, 2008, 12:00am

No magic necessary in teaching English to subdegree students

A tailor-made learning curriculum and comprehensive support help boost subdegree students' language proficiency.

While the public always expresses concern towards subdegree students' language standards, as a veteran English teacher for such students I would like to share my view that only by providing tailor-made teaching curricula and comprehensive learning support can they be helped in unleashing their learning potential and regaining confidence in mastering the language.

My view is validated by some of our students recently having scored satisfactory results in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exams. On average they obtained band 6 or above in their overall score, and two even obtained 7, which shows that subdegree students also obtain higher language competency than do most university students.

Last year, the global average band was 6.06, whereas that of Hong Kong was 6.42. According to the University Grants Committee, the average band of local university graduates in the latest IELTS test was 6.67.

We believe there is no magic behind their success, but the college's proper language support and guidance have given their learning outcomes a successful turnaround.

In addition to a 200-hour intensive language-training programme, our support includes a progression plan in which students are streamed into different levels, with small-class teaching and supportive measures for academically gifted or underprivileged students.

To facilitate teaching and stimulate students' interest, they are placed in appropriate courses that take into account their English proficiency. As such, their self-confidence in the language is built up if they find they are capable of doing tasks in English.

We also find that small-class teaching can help us provide more timely support to students and facilitate their participation. We conduct activities in the class to sustain their attention.

For brighter students, we encourage them to sit for internationally recognised language tests and participate in competitions to reinforce their confidence. For less-confident students, tailor-made materials and supplementary lessons are provided to overcome their inadequacies.

Students' confidence and initiative in learning the language can be regained when we help them pace themselves through learning activities of progressive levels of difficulty.

Through various learning modes, we get them involved in using English, help them find enjoyment and develop commitment to learning. This is the key for our students' success.


Centre of Languages & Communication,

Hong Kong College of Technology

Criteria not defined for a comparison of exams

The article and commentary on the comparability of Hong Kong and British university entrance scores ('Study may ease UK university entry', Education Post, January 26) failed to mention the criteria for comparison.

Granted that Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination scores, for instance, are at least one grade below their British equivalents, how were the underlying percentages compared given the different methods used to derive them? A small explanation would have allowed debate over how the two systems truly compare and the extent to which these comparisons flow into university-level grading.

Perhaps Hong Kong students would be best served looking away from British universities when studying overseas.


Discovery Bay

Stock market too big a gamble for young players

I am replying concerning the issue of whether or not students should invest in the stock market.

I do not think so. There is only one reason: it is too dangerous.

This is even true for stockbrokers or those who have a lot of experience in the markets.

Students listen to other people when investing in stocks; they are unlikely to know how to invest properly in the market and could very easily be deluded by people who spread rumours - they are likely to end up empty-handed.

Remember, the stock market is risky for every investor.

Moreover, sometimes students might feel lucky because they have gained and then they think it is easy to invest.

They could become unwary and, as you know, the stock market is full of traps for the unwary.

If a student loses money as a result of investing, it will not only affect his or her studies, but also his or her parents' lives.


Christian Alliance S.C.

Chan Memorial College