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  • Nov 23, 2014
  • Updated: 10:29am

Language Acquisition

How Chinese words can aid in English learning

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).

Thursday, 21 February, 2013, 5:46am 1 comment

Rookie Mum: baby babbling

My little boy, Tom, pulls at my leg and points excitedly at the sky, babbling frantically. "Ma dada baba duka duka duka!" he says. "Duka duka ba ba ba ba!" I look at him and ask, "What is it?"

1 Sep 2012 - 4:50pm

Steer clear of this 'comedy'

Despite how unfunny and illogical A Thousand Words seems, the premise - a man with only 1,000 words left to say before he dies - isn't bad. Of course, it's ridiculous, but underneath, there's a mysticism with gurus and trees that permits a certain level of absurdity to fall through the cracks. In a pseudo-enlightening fashion, you might think it would work, in a slapstick way.

15 Jul 2012 - 12:00am

The talk of the global village is ... in English

The second president of the United States, John Adams, predicted in 1780 that English would be the 'most respectable language' in the world and the most read and spoken. It is destined 'to be, in the next and succeeding centuries, more generally the language of the world than Latin was in the last or French is in the present age'.

22 May 2012 - 12:00am


In a recent New York Times op-ed, former Harvard president Lawrence Summers wrote: 'English's emergence as the global language, along with the rapid progress in machine translation and the fragmentation of languages spoken around the world, make it less clear that the substantial investment necessary to speak a foreign tongue is universally worthwhile.'

2 Mar 2012 - 12:00am

Strong first-language skills are key to learning second tongue

I have just moved my nine-year-old son from a local Cantonese-speaking school to an English-speaking international school. His English skills are a little weak. I have been speaking to him in English at home, but my own English is not very good. The new teacher said I should speak Cantonese with him at home. I am confused about how to help him.

20 Nov 2011 - 12:00am

Speaking up

Whoever wins the chief executive race next year needs to have the nerve and boldness to bring Hong Kong back to the pre-handover days as far as using English as the teaching medium in high schools is concerned. The standard of English of our students in high schools and universities has declined sharply in the past 14 years.

14 Oct 2011 - 12:00am

We're talking mother and father tongue

The One Person, One Language (OPOL) method is arguably the most widely used approach for multilingual children. The idea is that each parent uses one language when communicating with their children, typically their mother tongue, so youngsters associate that language with that parent. But such roles need not be so clearly defined.

11 Sep 2011 - 12:00am

Alphabet soup

Yau Wing-yi knows the Japanese-language playgroup sessions her son attends are paying off when they visit the supermarket. Strolling down the aisle, four-year-old Chan Long-kiu points out the ichigo (strawberry), ringo (apple) and remon (lemon) to his mother.

Long-kiu seems to have a flair for languages, she says.

11 Sep 2011 - 12:00am

Kungfu English

Learning a second language can be tedious, but the Third Ear series avoids that by taking an informal route. Third Ear Publishing founder Chris Lonsdale developed the programs for learning new languages based on his experiences as a senior corporate leadership coach and an expatriate learning Putonghua on the mainland.

21 Aug 2011 - 12:00am

Senses working overtime

Nicolette Lee starts with a massage, goes swimming and then she's off to the gym - it's a pretty packed diary when you are only 11 months old. But her mother, Christabel Lee-Lau, reckons it is all worthwhile.

26 Jun 2011 - 12:00am

Are best English teachers born to it?

An education professor's call for a change in the way we teach English certainly grabbed headlines. Whether it would have the 'revolutionary' effect Andy Kirkpatrick has predicted is debatable.

The English chair at the Hong Kong Institute of Education wants bilingual or multilingual teachers, rather than native English speakers, to teach English to our students.

31 May 2011 - 12:00am

Study shows teaching of English is paying off

The results of a survey on the use of English, in which China edged ahead of India, illustrate the rapid change in the mainland population's relationship with the language.

The change has come as a result of government policies and public perception of the benefits of having a good command of English.

7 Apr 2011 - 12:00am

India trails China in English standings

The British may have ruled India for 200 years, but people in China are now more proficient than Indians in their use of the English language, an online survey has found.

The survey ranked China 29th, pipping India in 30th. Data was collected from more than two million people in 44 countries in which English is not the native language.

7 Apr 2011 - 12:00am

Non-Chinese-speakers seen to lack motivation in class

Teachers in local schools with non-Chinese-speaking students perceive them as lacking motivation to learn and do not know how to teach them, a University of Hong Kong study has found.

26 Apr 2008 - 12:00am