Divert NETs cash to train local teachers
I refer to the How We See It article ('Are best English teachers born to it?', May 31) discussing education professor Andy Kirkpatrick's 'revolutionary' new way of thinking about teachers of English in Hong Kong schools.
Firstly, as someone who has attended Professor Kirkpatrick's class on 'English in the Global Context', in which he discusses this case, I would say he doesn't see this as a revolution as much as a reform of the system. Revolution and reform have two very different meanings.
Considering that Hong Kong has fallen behind Singapore in terms of the overall standard of English, reform is certainly one avenue, and an honest and independent evaluation of English teaching in the local school system is required.
Secondly, the article is correct in stating that the majority of Hong Kong's English teachers are bilingual. However, Professor Kirkpatrick emphasises that the native-English-speaking-teachers (NETs) scheme is financially flawed, and one would be hard-pressed to find a NET who does not get paid a lot more than a well-qualified local teacher.
Consider the effect it would have if that large chunk of the budget that is dedicated to the NETs scheme were redirected towards specialised training programmes to enhance training of local English teachers.
It could also be used to provide workshops to help relieve the stress that tends to overcome many Hong Kong public school teachers. I would be happy to be proved wrong if there was an independent study that proved the effectiveness of the NETs scheme for learning English.
Chan Yiu-cho, Sha Tin
Bilingualism vs fluency is a trade-off
Andy Kirkpatrick says that multilingual teachers are the way forward in education ('Call for revolution in English teaching', May 27).
I do not think anyone ever questioned that being bi- or even trilingual was an asset in an educational environment. The real question that needs to be addressed is the level of fluency, as there is often, not always, a trade-off.
Multilingual can often mean less proficient in one of the languages. Claiming to have a command of several languages but going around saying things like 'I play computa' or 'She like apple' is not what I believe students and parents want or need.
Professor Kirkpatrick claims communication is the key. Again, I would offer that grunting and pointing often gets the job done, but it is certainly not a desirable way to communicate.
I am a native-English-speaking teacher, and the professor is obviously my senior in all respects when it comes to language teaching, but I was worried that his points were being made to a very large audience, and I feel another point of view should be aired.
Jeff Bell, Discovery Bay
Another language can help
I refer to the report ('Call for revolution in English teaching', May 27). The dilution in the standard of English teaching is to be deplored. It reflects the general decline of teaching standards in Britain over the past 50 years, where to 'fail' has become effectively forbidden owing to political correctness.
However, teachers who have struggled with and mastered another language can probably provide more aid to a student struggling with the eccentricities of a new language (with which English is replete), than a monoglot teacher could.
Pronunciation is another matter.
J. C. Lawrence, Swansea, Wales
Seven-seater taxis block Central roads
I refer to the report ('Bosses' cars blamed for clogging roads', May 28).
It appears that the 'elephant in the room' has not been mentioned. The other main culprits are the seven-seater luxury taxis that offer very economical deals for tourists.
Their drivers are under instructions not to use proper parking facilities such as nearby car parks at Cheung Kong Center and New World Tower.
They pick up their passengers after the shopping is finished while they have been idling in Duddell Street or Queen's Road Central.
The area in front of The Landmark in Queen's Road Central is a particular cause for concern.
The right lane is blocked by vehicles trying to pick up passengers from the building.
The left lane is clogged by the waiting seven-seater taxis.
This leaves only one functioning lane, and it is impossible to flag a taxi.
Pedestrians now regularly cross to get into vehicles on the other side of the road when there is a signal change at the pedestrian crossing in Ice House Street, and this is dangerous.
If the police have officers in this area, then clearly they are ineffective.
Some serious action must be taken.
R. K. Tetarbe, Central
Programmes poor on free TV stations
I refer to the report ('ATV owner warns of free-to-air chaos', May 31).
Given that only TVB and ATV provide free-to-air channels in Hong Kong, I fail to see how a few more channels can bring chaos.
I am not a fan of TVB. I believe it has become the dominant station not because of the quality of its programmes but rather because of the lack of quality offered by ATV.
The latter station is obsessed with horse racing; these programmes are aired frequently on its English and Chinese channels.
Sometimes it provides entertaining programmes, but they have to fit around the horse racing schedule or are simply dropped. For example, Late Show with David Letterman and Two and a Half Men were taken off the schedule.
Hong Kong deserves more free television stations.
If the air space is deemed too cramped, then maybe the dead wood should look out.
Louis Wong, Tai Kok Tsui
Don't park big trucks in cycling haven
I am concerned about the underhand tactics deployed by the Lands Department.
On May 18, it was announced (Lands Department Notice CX2161) that Sunny Bay car park would be reduced in size by half. This would free up space for heavy vehicles, presumably to be used for work on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge.
Objections had to be given in writing within 14 days. Needless to say, these notices were not prominently displayed, and it would have been very convenient for the department if no one had noticed them.
The roads leading from the Disneyland roundabout to Sunny Bay station and to Tung Chung (not the main expressway) are frequently used by recreational cyclists and for road races. They can enjoy cycling in this area, since they do not have to worry about large trucks, fast cars and heavy traffic.
Many of us would not dare cycle on roads in Kowloon or the New Territories.
Having a car park for heavy trucks will invariably lead to more accidents, given that the trucks will find it difficult to stop on the hilly roads in the area.
I understand that the government is concerned with projects that enable it to continue pouring concrete. But officials should give some thought to those ordinary citizens who want to have a place to cycle in relative peace.
Events like the Hong Kong Games attempt to promote the importance of sport in the SAR. Yet the Lands Department is trying to limit cyclists from participating in their chosen sport in what is a relatively safe area. This is hypocritical, and the government is acting in a high-handed manner.
N. Fong, Tsim Sha Tsui
Feral cattle better off in country park
Keith McNab suggests that stray cattle pose no threat and should be allowed to remain where they have been for years ('Cows are a natural part of Sai Kung', May 23). The feral cattle in question have been, or are, descended from farm animals, and they were evicted from agricultural land to roam the byways. This is not their natural habitat.
In recent months, the cattle moved to Sai Kung north and were regularly straying on to the expressway. Following a report in the South China Morning Post [in April], 32 cattle were removed and are now roaming Sai Kung country park, where they pose no danger to anyone.
This is where the cattle should be taken. They should not be allowed to roam freely on streets, roads and expressways.
J. Veitch, Sai Kung