Talking Points: should Mandarin be a compulsory subject in secondary school?

Hate it when you can’t talk back? Well, you can with Young Post. Have your say and share with students around Hong Kong

Jamie Lam |

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Paco Hau, 15, PLK Ma Kam Ming College

Sure! Such a move would enhance students’ competitiveness and offer them better job opportunities. Mandarin is already the most popular second language among Cantonese speakers. It will probably soon replace English as the world’s international language.

Nowadays, most companies here hire workers who have a good knowledge of Mandarin. If you speak it, you are likely to get a higher salary and have more opportunities to work abroad. It could be just the ticket to a successful career.

After all, all Chinese people should learn their native language; it would be weird if they cannot speak Mandarin.

Asher Lau Ka-yan, 14, Tin Shui Wai Methodist College

Most secondary schools in Hong Kong teach Mandarin as a subject. Although Mandarin is important for a student’s future, it should be an optional – not compulsory – subject. This means students who are not good at languages can pick another subject and improve their overall grades.

Kwok Sheung-kai, 14, SKH Tsang Shiu Tim Secondary School

Yes, definitely. English played a crucial role when Hong Kong was a British colony, but things are different now. English is still important, but since China has become an economic powerhouse, we need more and more people with good Mandarin skills.

Trade is a key aspect of Hong Kong’s economy, and we need to maintain strong trade links with the mainland. Without a common language, we could be in trouble.

Also, learning a new language means that we get a chance to widen our social circle which is a really good thing.

Mau Wong-yiu, 14, Kwok Tak Seng Catholic Secondary School

There are two main reasons why Mandarin should be made a compulsory subject in secondary school. First, Chinese culture is one the world’s richest and oldest. By reading Chinese texts and watching films about the country’s civilisation, students can gain a better understanding of the language and Chinese culture.

Secondly, Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world with nearly 1.2 billion people speaking it. Of this number, around 960 million speak Mandarin. Mandarin could even replace English as the world’s international language some day. So it’s a no-brainer that secondary school students in Hong Kong should learn Mandarin.

Amy Ling Hiu-man, 16, PLK Wu Chung College

No, I don’t think so. Hong Kong is well-known for its exam-oriented education system. However, Mandarin is not one of the core subjects in the DSE examination. Students may not bother to study the language even if they are forced to learn it at school. It’s a waste of time and school resources, and would put more pressure on students.

Cantonese is our native language and it is widely spoken in the city. Languages are tools for communication and what we need in Hong Kong is simply Cantonese.

It doesn’t mean that we should forget about Mandarin. Teenagers can still learn it in a relaxed atmosphere, such as through TV programmes or discussions with friends.

In our next Talking Points, we’ll discuss:

Are food delivery services (like Deliveroo) a good idea for lunchtime at school?

We are now accepting your answers for this topic. To take part, email your answer with your name, age, and school, along with a nice, clear selfie (make sure it’s not blurry), to [email protected]com by lunchtime on Monday. Don’t forget to include “Talking Points” in the subject line.

Edited by M. J. Premaratne