Chinese to be taught in Putonghua in primary and secondary schools across Hong Kong

By staff writer, with additional reporting by Ben Pang

There is no clear link between using Mandarin in class and getting higher grades

By staff writer, with additional reporting by Ben Pang |

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Teacher Jessica Mui Shuk-ching teaches Putonghua to toddlers at a language centre in Causeway Bay.

The education authorities will go ahead with using Putonghua to teach Chinese in primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong. This is even though a study found no evidence that this would be more efficient than using Cantonese. The study, conducted by the Education University, found students participated more actively when teachers used Cantonese.

It was also found that students in Putonghua classes performed better academically than those in Cantonese classes. But the study noted that this could be affected by the fact that schools grouped better-performing students into Putonghua classes.

“We cannot say Putonghua is more effective than Cantonese in helping students learn the Chinese language,” the report said.

However, in a letter to the Legislative Council this week, the education bureau concluded that it “will continue to pursue the long-term vision of [using Putonghua to teach the Chinese language subject]”, as the study wasn’t conclusive enough.

Schools can choose whether to use Putonghua to teach Chinese.

Young Post Cadet Helen To
Hoi-ting, 18, from Ho Yu College and Primary School, said she preferred learning Chinese in Cantonese.

“It’s harder for us to understand Chinese if teachers use Putonghua in lessons ... if they use Cantonese, it’s simpler and I get more involved,” she said.

Reporter Henry Lui, 17, from Sha Tin College, said he did not feel students engaged more when learning in Cantonese. “Putonghua is a better way of teaching, especially when so many people in the world speak it,” he said.