The Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd) is offering language enhancement courses to all serving English teachers in a bid to avoid a high failure rate in the benchmark English test again next year. It has sent letters to all 1,400 primary and secondary schools informing them of the new offer. Half of the 643 candidates who joined the profession in 2001 failed, results released last week show. Francis Cheung Wing-ming, HKIEd's registrar, said the offer was open to graduates of any institution, but letters had also been sent to certificate programme graduates who failed and face being sacked or re-deployed by their schools. About 180 of the failed teachers who joined the profession in 2001 were certificate programme graduates from HKIEd. Dr Cheung described it as unfortunate timing that those graduates were required to pass the test by this year. The part-time courses can run for up to one year - depending on the individual's needs - and will cost a maximum of $20,000. HKIEd was looking for private funding to subsidise poorer applicants, Dr Cheung said. He said failed teachers might not necessarily have poor English standards, citing the strict requirements for reaching the benchmark standard. This year, the number of candidates seeking a review of their test results has almost quadrupled to 371 from 88 last year. The writing test has the most number of review requests.