The Hong Kong Institute of Education has pledged to offer more training for serving teachers to help them teach more in English following the government's announcement of proposals to relax limits on the use of the language in the classroom. 'We estimate that more teachers will have to use English to teach in future,' institute vice-president Lee Wing-on said. He outlined several measures to cope with the rise in demand for language training expected from teachers who will have to switch from teaching in Chinese to English in September 2010. Lawmakers will discuss the government's proposals today. It wants to allow secondary schools now teaching only in Chinese to teach pupils in one or more classes in English provided a large majority of the pupils meet its criterion for learning in the language. It also proposes to let schools teaching in Chinese which do not have enough pupils of the appropriate standard to run an all-English class to use the language for up to a quarter of lessons or for all lessons in one subject. From this September, the institute plans to provide an additional 40 places a year on its courses teaching serving students how to use English in the classroom. That will take the number of places available to 200. In the next semester its English department is also planning to offer teachers from Chinese-medium schools a 10-week, full-time professional course in how to use English. The course, previously offered only to teachers from schools teaching in English, will have 60 places. The institute will also use more English in its lectures for secondary-school teachers. Between an eighth and a quarter of its teaching has been in English in the past few years. 'We have been struggling over the years over how much class time should be devoted to English teaching,' Professor Lee said. 'We will also encourage more students to take the IELTS [International English Language Testing System exam]. Over 60 per cent of our students took the test last year and their average score was 6.2 [out of 9]. We hope to push the rate of participation to 80 per cent within two years.' Education sector lawmaker Cheung Man-kwong said local universities should put on courses to cope with the rising demand from teachers for language training. 'It's impossible to ask them to meet the language criteria before 2010,' he said.