PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 October, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 October, 2008, 12:00am

Hong Kong should be turned into a centre for excellence in teaching

As many people would agree, it is atrocious that a modern city like Hong Kong has such a shockingly bad admissions system. Parents should not be running between schools looking for a place for their child or feel that they have failed their children (or that the child has failed them) if they don't get in to a particular school.

In addition, our system should not be based on some outmoded learning system. We should not be educating children of the 21st century on 19th-century values and methods.

We have an advantage over many countries in Asia but particularly China, in regard to educating children in English, 'the world language'.

Historically, Hong Kong has been in a position to choose the best systems from around the world to teach our children. We are still in a position to do that if we turn the city into a centre for excellence in teaching English and in its provision of international schools.

We have historical ties to Britain and we should expand on these by inviting prestigious educational institutions in Britain to set up boarding schools here. Indeed, why not draw on the growing experience of schools elsewhere as they strive to encourage the growth of critically thinking, internationally minded adults. As mainlanders jump on anything which smells of exclusivity, we have a huge body of students both here and across the border.

The money raised and the standards set can be put into improving local schools.


Keep Tai Po and Sha Tin secondary schools open

I completely disagree with the closure of the four secondary schools in Tai Po and Sha Tin.

First of all, closure of these schools will bring many problems to both students and teachers. Students may need to switch to other schools. As a result, they would need to adapt to a new environment. Furthermore, they may need a long time to adapt.

Teachers being out of work may also lead to an increase in the unemployment rate. Some people may argue that this would raise the government's expenses. Nevertheless, due to the limited numbers of students in these schools, resources could be cut in a small amount.


Find alternatives to online English learning

E-learning has become an educational trend in recent years. Many schools have started using the online English Learning System to teach students. It seems to be a more friendly way to learn English. Undoubtedly, regular listening, vocabulary and reading practice can enhance students' English. However, is it a fact that e-learning can give students a more favorable learning environment?

Firstly, why are e-learning systems being used more frequently in schools? I think the reasons might be convenience, flexibility and trying to 'suit' what teenagers like: computers. However, some teachers have misunderstood that teenagers like computers because they are fascinated with high-tech animation or they just love pressing some buttons. Actually, as a teenager, I love using computer, but not for those reasons. I love it because I can do what I want and I can learn what I am eager to know. I can watch funny videos, read passages that interest me, chat, play and so on.

Not all of the English learning content, for instance political issues or animals, interests us, but the students have to do it all. Some schools even push their students into online counting exercises as a part of examinations. I understand the system is good for us, but over-pushing may bring great stress and depression.

Some technological errors appear in the system as well. Of course, it is understandable to have a few errors. But when we are under great pressure in doing these exercises, these glitches make us feel dispirited or lose our temper. In addition to a heavy homework load, some students are afflicted with e-learning. They might lose interest in learning English since they don't feel that they have freedom in using this online system. As a result, some students might try to shirk the unpleasant tasks or even cheat.

I prefer traditional English learning methods: reading the newspaper, watching TV programmes and listening to the radio. These might not be as systematic as the online English learning, but at least I enjoy doing these things. I enjoy watching The Apprentice on TVB Pearl so I watch every Saturday without any measures to push me. What I'm writing now is also for my interest.

In addition, learning English requires speaking practice, thus talking more is necessary, but most schools ignore it. Why don't we practice our English face to face instead of facing a machine? Students should be asked to use English as the daily language everywhere at schools. I think would be more helpful than facing a boring machine.