Let's see, A, B, C ... and Z makes 24? Don't bet on it

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 March, 2009, 12:00am

How many letters are there in the English alphabet? The man in charge of the city's education policy wasn't too sure. Education Secretary Michael Suen Ming-yeung was at a public forum this week defending the de facto segregation of students deemed less advanced in English into language 'ghetto' classes under new teaching policy.

He said: 'For those students who don't even know all the 24 letters [in the alphabet] ... I mean 26 letters, if they are forced to listen to English ... they would not be able to grasp what the teachers are talking about [and] hence give up on their studies eventually.'

The education chief was explaining why only the top 40 per cent of secondary school students are to be taught in English following the government's recent U-turn - sorry, I mean refinement - on mother-tongue education. Presumably, the bottom 60 per cent are those not too sure about the number of letters in the alphabet.

Not content with his alphabet example, Mr Suen said teachers could liven up their classes with English soccer clips from TV, such as the recent match between Liverpool and Roma. Reporters there were eyeing each other and rolling their eyes. Roma in Cantonese sounded a lot like Real Madrid, which was the team that actually went up against Liverpool.