CHINESE children in Britain should find learning their mother tongue easier and more interesting following the development of new textbooks reflecting British rather than Hongkong teaching programmes. Leading figures among the Chinese community got together with the Hongkong Government Office in 1991 to design a series of textbooks which reflected the fact that most ethnic Chinese children in the UK spoke English among themselves at home, and only received a fraction of the Chinese teaching of their Hongkong counterparts. The books - put together by a committee of teachers - will be used to teach more than 13,000 local Chinese children attending weekend lessons in their mother tongue in some 120 classes held across Britain. The teachers, who are preparing the children for General Certificate of Secondary Education examinations in Chinese, felt it was becoming increasingly difficult to teach children with the Hongkong textbooks normally provided through government channels. Parents thought the contents of the books produced in the territory were not directly relevant to the lifestyles of their children. The first edition of the series of 11 books will be distributed free of charge to all Chinese classes from the beginning of the academic year starting in September. The committee will then collect feedback before deciding on a final version next year. Because children in Hongkong received more hours of Chinese teaching a week than those in Britain, there was a mismatch between the mental age of the children and the language skills they were trying to learn, according to Dr Joseph Au, a lecturer in engineering at Brunel University near London, and one of the instigators of the project. ''The children might have found some of the texts boring or difficult to understand,'' he said. ''We also found some of the contents peculiar to the Hongkong situation.'' According to Dr Au, by the time a child had reached 11 or 12 in Britain, they would still only be on a book designed for a seven-year-old in Hongkong.