English for Integrated Studies Project

Lessons in English not for everyone

With local schools being given more freedom to choose whether to teach classes in English or Chinese, there are worries that few will be able to resist the temptation to abandon the mother tongue.

Sunday, 25 September, 2011, 12:00am

A worsening problem, in any language

Let me dispel a few myths about teaching and learning English in Hong Kong. To start with, people believe that, to become a world-class city, we have to master English. Most Japanese do not put much effort into learning an alien language, but that does not prevent Tokyo from being indisputably a world-class city.

6 Feb 2009 - 12:00am

Mixed messages on language teaching

Language bridges communication, but mother-tongue education has been among the most socially divisive government policies since Hong Kong's return to China in 1997. The switch to mother-tongue teaching in 1998 was seen by some as a political decision.

9 Jan 2009 - 12:00am

Progress on English must be sustained

A frequent complaint among parents and teachers is that our children do not read and that their standard of literacy is in decline. Yet survey after survey has shown the opposite, at both primary and secondary levels.

10 Jul 2008 - 12:00am

Does mother-tongue teaching produce more confident students?

Each week our two teenagers debate a hot topic. This week ...

Dennis Wu, 17, St Joseph's College

Teachers, parents and students have a lot of qualms about studying in Chinese, their mother tongue.

If we don't have faith in our English skills, we have no chance of survival.

9 Apr 2008 - 12:00am

The plot thickens

One misty night, two motorists pick up a female hitchhiker on a highway only to see the girl vanish from the back seat of their car. That was the opening scene from the Vanishing Hitchhiker, used in a British Council drama workshop last month for about 20 primary and secondary English teachers.

8 Mar 2008 - 12:00am

Lessons for everyone in improving English levels

In 1998, the Hong Kong government made the controversial decision to force most secondary schools to adopt Chinese, the mother tongue of most local students, as the medium of instruction. Only 112, whose staff and students were deemed capable of teaching and learning in English, were allowed to use it as the teaching language.

11 Aug 2003 - 12:00am

Mother-tongue merits

A study on the impact of mother-tongue education on students has confirmed what educators have long believed. At secondary schools which have switched their medium of instruction from English to Chinese, teachers have found that students learn better, are more confident and demonstrate more sophisticated thinking skills.

9 Jul 2002 - 12:00am

In defence of tests

When the Government announced in 1997 that all secondary schools must teach in Chinese unless their staff and students could cope with teaching and learning in English respectively, a major criticism of the policy concerned the criteria used to decide which schools could continue to teach in English.

4 Jun 2001 - 12:00am

Integrated subject poses many problems

I firmly disagree with the combination of Chinese history, world history and geography into one subject. This is neither good for students nor teachers.

This integrated subject is similar to subjects that are studied by Form Six students or even university students.

29 Aug 2000 - 12:00am

Extra classes doing the trick

I refer to your editorial of April 11, headlined, 'Testing the teachers'.

17 Apr 2000 - 12:00am

Curriculum must serve HK's immediate needs

I refer to your editorial of November 2, headlined, 'Premature change'. You expressed concern regarding the proposal made by the working group on medium of instruction that some Chinese medium schools may be allowed to choose English medium of instruction for Form 4 students and above.

12 Nov 1999 - 12:00am

Learning in English a struggle for most

The problem with the public debate on medium of instruction is that very few people in our community really understand the disadvantages of non-mother-tongue teaching in schools.

Some critics of the Government's medium of instruction policy are native English speakers who have never experienced the agony of having to learn all school subjects through a foreign language.

16 Dec 1997 - 12:00am

Learning in English can lead to chaos

There are many places in the world where a foreign language is an important subject in the school curriculum, and is taught and learned efficiently. But hardly anywhere else can there be such strong resistance to mother-tongue teaching as has been angrily expressed in Hong Kong last week.

9 Dec 1997 - 12:00am

A change for the better

There was a mixed reaction from secondary school students and their parents to the announcement by the Education Department that the medium of instruction in schools was to be switched from English to Cantonese. Some of them welcomed the change, others did not.

16 Nov 1997 - 12:00am