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What do Hong Kong’s preschool kids know about interviews?

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 June, 2018, 4:30pm
UPDATED : Friday, 08 June, 2018, 9:56pm

I am writing to respond to the article on kindergarten interviews by Sophia Lam (“Drill or chill: How to prepare for a kindergarten interview”, May 29). In my humble opinion, assessing a two- or three-year-old child’s performance in a formal admission interview is ridiculous for the following reasons.

The article mentions that the child’s English language proficiency is sometimes tested during an interview. However, as English is often learned as a second or even third language by the majority of children in Hong Kong, how are they supposed to speak the language before they receive formal education?

Even if there are a variety of language courses available in the market for preschool learners, how accessible they are is the crux of the matter. If a child were born into a lower-income family and the parents could not afford such a course, would that mean that the child was likely to fail the interview, at least in the language assessment section?

Some parents apparently prepare made-up stories for their children as answers to some interview questions, such as on family weekend activities. But such untruths can be easily spotted by interviewers reading the child’s facial expressions. Worse still, by implying that there is nothing wrong with lying to fulfil your goals, these parents are teaching their children the wrong values.

Watch: Year of the Dragon toddlers compete for top school spots

From kindergarten age, Hong Kong’s children are tutored to be winners

However, facing fierce competition for a place in a prestigious kindergarten, parents perhaps have no choice but to pull out all stops to prepare their children for the formal interviews. So perhaps we should instead point the finger at the culture of having interviews with preschool children in the first place.

Are playgroups and nursery classes necessary?

I am not suggesting that there be no criteria for kindergarten admissions. I agree with the idea of holding group play sessions, where the children’s interaction would demonstrate their interpersonal and communication skills, and self-discipline, and those could be the criteria for deciding who gets in.

Overall, the issue of kindergarten interviews leaves us with a question – do they serve as a standard to select students for the school or do they just encourage parents to cram their children with interviewing skills?

Mark Tse, Tuen Mun