FOR someone who spoke little Cantonese and even less English a few years back, Chiang Mung's linguistic achievements seem almost miraculous. The 18-year-old Queen's College student, who came to Hong Kong seven years ago from Tianjin, China, has accumulated a pile of language awards that would impress anyone. His latest achievement is being named the South China Morning Post Student Linguist of the Year 1995. 'When I first came to Hong Kong I knew very little English and Cantonese,' said Mung. 'I was studying Primary Six in China, but I had to repeat Primary Five here.' Mung attributed his success to hard work and enthusiasm, and the support of his parents and teachers. 'They've been a real inspiration.' 'As a new immigrant, I remember how disappointed I was when I failed my first English exam in school,' said the sixth-former. 'But everything changed when an English teacher decided to give up his lunch hour to teach me. I am deeply grateful to him.' The science student loves to read in his spare time. 'Reading is an important source of knowledge and inspiration,' he said. 'It has opened up the world to me.' His favourite books in English are not necessarily light reading - they include The Decline of the West by Oswald Spengler, and God and the New Physics by Paul Davis. To relax, he enjoys reading the Chinese works of Lu Xun and Gu Cheng. Mung's talents are not confined to languages. In 1994 he won the Outstanding Student of Hong Kong Award, and was one of the top performers at last year's HKCEE in which he gained 10 distinctions. He hopes to be an engineer one day, and to study for his degree in the United States, with the promise that he will bring his expertise back to Hong Kong and China. 'I plan on studying science or engineering at an American university. The scholarship I've just won will help me realise my dream,' he said. Mung's remarkable flair for languages has won him an array of prizes in Chinese and English essay writing competitions, as well as in Mandarin, Cantonese and English speech, prose and verse speaking. In 1993 he won the Chinese essay writing championship in the 18th Hong Kong Youth Cultural and Arts competition, and last year he won the 'Mass Media and Society' and 'World of Friendship' essay competitions. Mung was the winner of the Joint School Mandarin Story-telling competition for three consecutive years - in '92, '93 and '94. He also excelled at the 46th and 47th Hong Kong Schools Speech Festivals. The panel of adjudicators - Dr Serena Jin, Chairman and Professor of the Department of Translation at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Grace Law Wai-han, curriculum officer (English) at the Education Department Curriculum Development Institute - had nothing but praise for Mung's talents. Dr Jin spoke of his eloquence, analytical powers and innovative ideas, while Ms Law was struck by Mung's modest, courteous, and cultured manner. 'His proficiency in English is extraordinary. He writes excellent compositions, and he speaks fluent English,' Ms Law said. Mung will receive a $20,000 Citibank scholarship, two British Airways return tickets to Manila or Taipei, and an Olma watch.