Quality of teachers the key to good learning
Be careful choosing a language class, says Hong Kong Institute of Languages director
As interest in languages in the city has increased over the past years, "teachers" who don't hold professional certificates are rife, Dominique Chasset, one of the founders and directors of the privately run Hong Kong Institute of Languages, said the public should be careful when picking a language centre or tutor.
"People should be more wary," she said. "They tend to judge their learning experience based on price. Ok, it's cheaper, I'll go there. But, if you think logically, when you pay peanuts, you won't get much, unless you are in a big class. With a good teacher you will learn more effectively and it takes less long."
Chasset noted that the fact that someone is a native speaker is not a guarantee of having good teaching skills.
"There are many people who don't have teacher certificates, who are not qualified, but who pretend to be qualified," she said.
"Just because you are blond and blue eyed doesn't mean you will be a good teacher."
She described how hard it was to find a qualified English teacher last summer.
"I interviewed 10 to 12 people in the summer, but only two of them were real teachers. These people don't know what they are doing, and the parents don't know that."
To improve language standards in the city, Chasset said the government should give more opportunities to children to practice languages and introduce enrichment classes, which don't target exams.
Both schools and parents should change their mindset, she noted.
"Sometimes we argue with parents, who just want their children to learn what is in the exam, but you cannot do that. It's totally wrong … These people will become adults and then they only have the remains of what they have studied."