LEARNING a subject in the mother tongue does not only enhance easy understanding, but also helps to build a close relationship between students and teachers. Sophia So Fei of Pui Ching Middle School, who scored eight straight As in this year's HKCEE, was one of the students who benefitted from mother tongue education. ''For most of the subjects, I took the exams in English, but our teachers explained in Chinese with English terms and vocabulary during class,'' said Sophia, who took the biology examination in Chinese. ''It is more effective learning in our mother tongue. When other students are busy spelling all that long and complicated jargon, I can concentrate on understanding the real important stuff of the subject,'' explained the science student. The 17-year-old also believed that mother tongue education could enhance a close and harmonious relationship between teachers and students. ''It just doesn't sound right when teachers speak English. We also hesitate to ask questions unless we can use Chinese,'' Sophia said. Pui Ching Middle School has attained a 95.1 per cent pass rate in the HKCEE this year. Students are allowed to choose the language they wish to study in. Principal Cheung Sing-yip said they adopted a flexible policy on examination languages which allowed students to choose the language most suitable to them. ''We offer choices for our students. We adopt mother tongue education in the first three years. After Form Four, we still use Chinese as the teaching medium for arts subjects. ''As for science subjects, we use a mixture of English and Chinese.'' According to Mr Cheung, about 40 per cent of the subjects were taken in English. ''I believe it is easier to learn a subject in the mother tongue. All students took the biology exam in Chinese and we had a 97 per cent pass rate.'' Sophia could not have agreed more. ''We can choose different languages for the examinations according to our own language ability and preference.'' Having studied in Pui Ching school for eight years, Sophia values her school friendships. ''We know each other very well. We've got exceptionally close after working on the graduation magazine and studying hard together,'' said Sophia, the magazine's editor. Although an outstanding scholar, Sophia is not a bookworm. She also enjoys voluntary work and devotes a great deal of time to helping the blind and the needy. ''I get to learn more about our social service programmes through this kind of work,'' she said. Sophia is also a member of the New Territories Youth Orchestra. ''Playing the violin helps me relax and forget about exams. When I feel upset, I just play violin,'' she said. Sophia has not yet decided whether to take up medicine or engineering for a career.