Plea for pragmatism

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 June, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 20 June, 1994, 12:00am

I WAS most encouraged to read about the recommendations of the Educational Commission by the Working Group on Language Proficiency, as described by Ms Angela Cheung, Chairman of the working group (South China Morning Post, June 9).

Two items attracted my attention particularly: ''A more co-ordinated approach to language development . . . to ensure that all children undergo a positive experience . . . and acquire the confidence to learn English (and Putonghua) effectively'', and: ''The encouragement of alternative ways to develop bilingual proficiency.'' I hope that this message will be effectively implemented in the educational system as from my personal experience, I have found that the lack of a co-ordinated approach and the lack of alternative ways, are among the main factors that hinder the acquisition of the English language in Hong Kong.

I have effectively introduced an innovative system of teaching English to young children, a system in which the children (and sometimes their parents as well) learn English enjoyably and undergo a positive experience, as recommended by the working group. I have had successful results. However, despite media attention, all my attempts to attract the attention of the educational system have, so far, been in vain.

Ms Cheung also mentioned the establishment of a Standing Committee on Language Education and Research and of a Centre for Language Education Research.

Let's hope that at least the businessmen who have been involved in this project will show a pragmatic approach in steering the two newly-established bodies. There are enough publications, well supported by researchers, regarding the effectiveness of innovative and alternative systems of teaching English. I suggest that the committee concentrate on examining the implementation of those systems, rather than on inventing the wheel anew.