Hong Kong schools

Teach Mandarin as a language, but it should be Cantonese for everything else in Hong Kong schools

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 May, 2018, 4:11pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 May, 2018, 4:11pm

The debate over whether Cantonese is the mother tongue of Hongkongers has become the talk of the town (“Should Mandarin replace Cantonese in Hong Kong?”, May 3). Many people are worried whether all public schools in Hong Kong would eventually have to adopt Mandarin as the medium of instruction, instead of Cantonese. I do not support the view that Mandarin should supersede Cantonese in Hong Kong.

Firstly, the language of educational instruction in Hong Kong should be the mother tongue of Hongkongers. Since this is the primary language for our children and it is best to teach in one’s mother tongue for more effective absorption of knowledge, classes should be conducted in the mother tongue. This is the rule followed in most advanced cities, so why not for education in Hong Kong?

The mother tongue of Hongkongers is definitely Cantonese. So, if our mother tongue is Cantonese, why does Mandarin have to be our language of instruction in school? 

How a compulsory Mandarin course caused chaos at Hong Kong Baptist University

Of course, learning Mandarin is not a bad idea, since the effects of globalisation mean the language has gained international prominence in recent years, and it is believed that those who are proficient in it benefit more in the workplace, especially as companies from mainland China spread around the world. 

Cantonese to stay on the tip of our tongues

However, it is not necessary to use Mandarin to teach every subject in Hong Kong schools. Maybe Mandarin should be taught just as part of Chinese lessons, as it is done in many schools in Hong Kong. It is a way to let children learn Mandarin without having it replace Cantonese in class, and is the preferable option. Mandarin should not be taken as the language used for education in Hong Kong.

Daniel Hui, Hang Hau