English Language

Pop culture helps students learn English

Carlos Soto encourages his students to learn English with the help of Bollywood films. Photo: Felix Wong

Composing bilingual rap with puns like these has helped students in a Band Three school in a working-class area build bridges between their Chinese mother tongue and English.

Monday, 3 June, 2013, 10:30am 1 comment

Book review: Does Spelling Matter? by Simon Horobin

Book review: Does Spelling Matter? by Simon Horobin

Oxford professor Simon Horobin argues against spelling reform on the grounds that the complex and inconsistent detail of English spelling is "testimony to the richness of our linguistic heritage and a connection with our literary past".

19 May 2013 - 3:40pm

Hard labour for lawyers who speak only English

The use of Chinese in Hong Kong's courts has taken off. Photo: SCMP

With more court cases being heard in Chinese, lawyers who know only English say the amount of work available for them has dropped, causing some to earn less, go into early retirement or move abroad.

1 Apr 2013 - 9:57am 8 comments

Students, not institutions, will improve English classes

Learning English can be a parental obsession, a student's headache and a businessman's opportunity. 

11 Mar 2013 - 10:34am

Education officials have got it wrong

Education officials have got it wrong

Your correspondent's opinions are borne out by my experience of learning English as a fourth former of a secondary school with English as the medium of instruction. I have found that using Chinese (Cantonese) can facilitate and motivate my learning of English as my second language. 

6 Mar 2013 - 2:51am 1 comment

Bilingual council websites feasible

In his policy address last month, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying announced a "one-off grant" of HK$100 million for each district in Hong Kong, or HK$1.8 billion in total for all districts, to be earmarked for district councils this year to "carry out signature projects in the current term".

28 Feb 2013 - 3:37am

English-only rule lacks flexibility

Wise use of Chinese can help process of teaching English

The arguments given by Dr Caldwell are echoed by my 24 years of English language teaching experiences in six different secondary schools in Hong Kong. They have been proved valid in teaching students of different streams, namely, Chinese medium of instruction and English medium of instruction.

27 Feb 2013 - 4:55am

How Chinese words can aid in English learning

New studies show Chinese can be used to teach English

The state of English in Hong Kong has improved steadily over the past decade, thanks to deliberate strategies. There is in progress, however, a more dynamic paradigm shift in language learning. It involves the targeted use of the mother tongue (in this case, Chinese) to increase the rate and motivation in learning the other language (English).

21 Feb 2013 - 5:46am 1 comment

Hong Kong trails rival Singapore in students' English skills

King Ling pupils use English in some classes. Photo: David Wong

Many parents spare no efforts in brushing up their children's language skills - and not just in English. Demand for Putonghua teachers is soaring as China's clout in the global economy increases.

4 Feb 2013 - 10:22am 19 comments

Quality of local schools in doubt, Amcham says

The recently reappointed chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong yesterday criticised the quality of the city's education system, urging officials to adopt long-term planning in order to maintain its competitiveness.

9 Jan 2013 - 5:17am

Why many students have trouble grasping abstract science concepts

Science lessons often cover abstract ideas which can cause problems for ESL students. Photo: May Tse

My doctoral studies grew out of my frustrations as a science teacher. In 2002, I was required to teach Grade 6 students both mathematics and science at the Hong Kong International School.

9 Dec 2012 - 12:30pm

Canada's United Steelworkers union warns Chinese miners pose safety risk

Canadian miners have lodged a demand that work be halted at a controversial Chinese-staffed mine in British Columbia. They say Chinese miners' inability to speak fluent English represents a safety hazard.

The United Steelworkers union filed the complaint with the province's minister of mining, Rich Coleman, and chief inspector of mines, Al Hoffman.

18 Nov 2013 - 5:03pm

'Omnishambles' Oxford University Press Word of the Year

Britain's media is in meltdown and its government is gaffe-prone, so Oxford Dictionaries has chosen an apt Word of the Year: "omnishambles".

Oxford University Press has crowned the word - defined as "a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, characterised by a string of blunders and miscalculations" - its top term of 2012.

14 Nov 2012 - 3:52am

America embraces English English

America embraces English English

Mitt Romney is not the "bumbling toff" he's made out to be, wrote Daniel Gross, an American journalist, in a recent Daily Beast article. The latest iPad is a "lovely piece of kit," in the words of John Scalzi, an American science-fiction author writing in his blog, Whatever.

12 Oct 2012 - 4:04am

Simplicity the key to drafting laws

Clarity and simplicity are the ABC of good writing. But the basic rules are apparently not appreciated by law drafters around the world. For centuries, the statute book has been filled with acts written in convoluted syntax and jargon. Provisions are often drafted in archaic legal language, with complicated sentence structures running into hundreds of words without breaks.

10 Jul 2012 - 12:00am