More students than ever before have opted to take this year's public examinations in Chinese, in a shift educationists say is a welcome boost for mother-tongue teaching. Educators and examiners welcomed figures released by the Examinations Authority relating to students sitting this year's Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE), saying students should learn and be tested in the language they are most confident with. A total of 134,630 candidates have applied to sit this year's HKCEE examination. The tentative date for the announcement of exam results is August 6. Apart from subjects such as Chinese language, Chinese history and Chinese literature, which must be answered in Chinese, more than half of the students opted to answer in the mother tongue in at least nine other subjects. They include religious studies, economic and public affairs, government and public affairs, social studies, travel and tourism, engineering science, human biology, commerce and Buddhist studies. About 30 per cent more students taking biology and principles of accounting applied to answer in Chinese than last year. Jessie Yeung Shuk-har, the authority's examinations officer, said both Chinese and English question papers were offered in most subjects. 'There has been a trend that more students have chosen to take the Chinese-version papers and fewer to take the English version. This situation also happened in the Advanced-level Examination,' Ms Yeung said. 'Some students will feel more comfortable answering in their mother tongue. No matter what language they choose, we believe their knowledge in the subjects will be tested,' she said. Some students said they preferred to read and answer papers in Chinese. But most took the English-version exams because both their teachers and parents insisted English meant a higher standard. More students are expected to answer public exams in Chinese as more secondary schools begin to teach in the mother tongue. Schools teaching in the mother tongue from Form One will jump from about 70 to 300 in the next school year under the new language policy. Only 114 schools are allowed to teach in English.