Appreciating teacher's influence
I emigrated from the mainland to Hong Kong as a secondary school pupil.
I learned only so much in Form One and hoped to pass the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE) in three years. If I failed, I feared I might have to face life as a low-skilled worker.
I was able to achieve my goal and pass my HKCEE, sticking to my schedule, partly because my school had a very good native English-speaking teacher (NET) who inspired and encouraged me and my fellow students.
He not only spent extra time with those of us who showed a willingness to learn, but was also very caring, treating us in a friendlier way than the local teachers who were more like authority figures.
I got the required exam result by being encouraged to talk to him in English.
The local teachers in my school seldom used English and, if they did, they were not fluent and lacked confidence.
Because of the NET's different cultural background, I was also taught to think and write about a variety of issues, think outside the box, and learn more general knowledge. Our NET not only valued hard work, but also enjoyed life.
That sense of enjoyment is something many Hong Kong people fail to understand, whereas I have learned to strike a balance in my life.
Today I am making a reasonable income in a multinational company and enjoying a comfortable life partly because I can communicate well in Cantonese, Putonghua and English.
Our society needs people with these language skills, and with the ability to adapt to change.
We should appreciate the NETs who are able to teach us to improve our language skills while giving us so much more.
Tracy Kwan Wai-chui, Tin Shui Wai
NETs adopt a different approach
I am fortunate to have been taught by a native English-speaking teacher (NET) since entering senior school.
Over a two-year period, my language skills have improved thanks to this teacher.
I believe students can benefit from the style of teaching adopted by NETs because of their attitude to how the language should be learned. Unlike most local teachers, NETs emphasise the importance of practising English, rather than simply acquiring examination skills.
In the new three-year secondary curriculum, the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education, students are required to develop what are known as soft skills, that is, to think for themselves, something which NETs encourage.
They seldom adopt that method of teaching by which pupils are spoon-fed from textbooks.
Youngsters are encouraged to practise English not just for the diploma but for the rest of their lives.
I am not saying local teachers are not able to help students with their academic development, but a NET can give a young person a deeper understanding of the language.
Michael Chan Kwok-ho, Yuen Long
Get tough over food hygiene
There have been a number of press reports over the past few weeks about enforcement action by hygiene officials against some stall owners in government markets and bun makers on Cheung Chau.
These officials are ensuring that high hygiene standards are maintained in the food manufacturing process by stall holders on Cheung Chau and that the health of Hong Kong citizens is protected.
However, I often see hawkers causing an obstruction on our streets and yet no action is taken by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.
I think there needs to be tight controls on the food that is sold by these hawkers, although I appreciate that the department has limited resources.
No one is above the law and all those involved in food production must adhere to Hong Kong's food hygiene regulations.
That goes for those shops making buns for the Cheung Chau Bun Festival.
Cheung Hok-yee, Sham Tseng
Charity has helped young people at risk
I refer to the letter by Sol Wetherfield ('Officers help delinquents quit crime', June 6) and thank him for the very encouraging and positive comments on Operation Breakthrough.
Operation Breakthrough is a registered charity that operates on charitable donations.
Its aims (http://www.break through.hk/) are to provide sporting and other activities, including self-development courses, for young people, both boys and girls, who are at risk.
These activities, which are voluntarily run by serving police officers, assisted by social workers, are aimed at making a difference to the lives of young people, steering young people at risk away from a life of crime and deterring first-time offenders from reoffending.
We believe that young people are the solution, not the problem.
Hundreds of boys and girls have entered the programme and all of our volunteers, many of whom are serving or retired police officers and of all ranks regard- less of their ethnicity, pride themselves on providing better lives and opportunities for them.
Furthermore, we are extremely grateful to the Hong Kong Police Force, without whose support many aspects of the programme would not be possible.
While it is not easy to quantify the success of the programme, Operation Breakthrough does pride itself on the fact that not only are we able to retain many of the participants in the programme to act as mentors and role models to others, but we have numerous success stories.
Not only have several of those involved attained considerable sporting success, even at national level, but some have been rehabilitated to the point that they have been able to join either the police or the fire service.
David J. Grant, director, Operation Breakthrough
Property sale restrictions make sense
I support those who have suggested that residential property in Hong Kong should only be sold to Hong Kong citizens. Singapore has introduced restrictions on property sales and it is still regarded as having free-trade policies.
It is important to strike a balance and policies could be introduced in stages.
For example, when the government is auctioning a particular plot of land, it could stipulate that the property built on that land could only be sold to Hong Kong citizens.
Recent government initiatives aimed at cooling the property market have not worked and prices are at historic highs. Therefore, it is time for the chief executive to come up with new strategies.
N. Y. Yuen, Kowloon Tong