Letters | US media is free to expose national scandals. Can Chinese media do this?
- Readers write about the hallmark of a free press, how the attitude to the English language has changed in Hong Kong, and why students don’t do more to improve their English skills
Some Chinese internet users argue that there is no difference between Chinese media and the media in democratic countries because they all serve a political purpose. They give examples to show CNN supporting the Democrats and Fox News defending the Republicans. So, they say, it is unfair to be hostile towards Chinese media.
I would give this statement some credit – it’s really hard for media outlets to be completely neutral, whether private or state-owned.
Chloe Hui, Yuen Long
English no longer only route to fairy-tale endings
But after the handover in 1997, Hongkongers found there were more routes to success than English proficiency. The growing importance of Mandarin also led to the decline of interest in English.
It was like a perennially shut window suddenly opening. A butcher could find his fairy-tale ending by opening a hotpot shop to host his beloved countrymen from the mainland and earning a handsome profit.
It’s worthwhile for students to consider the value of being trilingual.
Edmond Pang, Fanling
Why students don’t do more to improve their English
He noted that the performance of candidates in the Diploma of Secondary Education exam is worrying but not surprising.
Due to the exam-oriented culture in Hong Kong, most lessons in schools and tutoring centres focus on getting good DSE grades. Teachers and tutors provide standardised structures, sentence patterns and useful phases for students to copy and use in their writing. They rarely encourage creative writing or ask students to gain knowledge that is beyond the scope of the syllabus but beneficial to learning the language. That’s why many students use formulaic expressions and make pronunciation mistakes during tests.
The writer suggested that learners create their own English environment by listening to English-language radio channels and watching English-language films. This is a legitimate suggestion. But it fails to consider the overwhelming workload and extensive extracurricular activities students have. With little leisure time, most of us would rather do what we like than take further steps to improve our English skills.
Studying should not be about getting grades. The government and schools should work together to change this culture and develop more tools to help students improve their English.
Yolly Lau, Tsuen Wan