Not enough teachers who are competent in English

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 August, 2008, 12:00am

I agree with Virginia Yue ('Parents must change attitudes', July 30).

It cannot be guaranteed that greater exposure to English will improve English language skills in Hong Kong.

I think the reason for this is that there are not nearly enough teachers who are competent in English who can effectively teach their lessons through this medium.

The government has messed around with such things as benchmarking, but to no avail.

It would not have taken a genius to realise this in the first place. Teachers are not being given the proper support that they need to improve their language skills. Take a maths teacher, or a science teacher being asked to teach in English? Many of these teachers will not have the fluency needed to use English as the medium of instruction. What is the purpose of education? Presumably to allow young people to open their minds to learning. It is every child's fundamental right to learn.

In my opinion, a child should have the right to learn in their own language. The majority of students will learn to the best of their abilities in their native tongue. Hong Kong should adopt the same system as in overseas countries. Teach in the mother tongue and offer English as a second language only using qualified, competent English language teachers. A student repeatedly hearing incorrect English will not benefit from 'learning in English'. As a language teacher myself, I have listened to lessons delivered 'in English' and not understood a word.

As for Adrian Lo's argument that if grammar is sound, one can communicate effectively with others ('Old teaching methods work', August 7), this is simply not correct. Grammar alone will not get one far. Languages are much more than a set of rules.

Good vocabulary, confidence, lots of spoken practice with English speakers and yes, a little grammar, will all aid a student's language learning.

I have two bilingual children, Cantonese and English. How did they get this way? Simply by listening and talking to native speakers; they are aged five and three.

Katrina Bourke, Discovery Bay