General English standard of students Question 1: How bad is the situation? 1. HKEAA recently completed the first administration of the TSA of Primary 3 students to assess their performance against professionally defined competences in Chinese, English and Mathematics. Surprisingly, there are 25% of students who fail in English. 2. In the 2009 HKCEE and HKALE English examinations, there are some unacceptable mistakes such as some students spelled banana wrongly to ‘’banna’’ and ‘’bananna’’. 3. In the 2010 HKCEE English examination, there are more than half of the Hong Kong students got grade two or even lower grades.
Question 2: Consequences of the falling/rising English standard 1. Professor Barger said students’ declining command of English might affect the city’s ability to innovate and compete in the global economy. It is difficult for students to communicate with other global businessmen after they find a job. 2. It is not surprising that even the top rank government officials, who are the elite of the elite and supposedly the experts in Standard English, are still making grammatical mistakes in their well-prepared English essays. 3.
Employers, especially those in the service industry, complain of difficulties in hiring English-speaking staff. Tourists voice their frustration at not being understood, while expatriates find it increasingly hard to communicate with the locals. This affects the international image of Hong Kong directly. Question 3: Who are responsible for the fall/rise? 1. School The falling rate in writing (66. 67%) and oral (49. 29%) sections of the Language Proficiency Assessment Test for the in service or prospect English teachers of Hong Kong shocked the public.
That means teachers in schools cannot be a good model for students. Although English is taught from kindergarten, Cantonese is usually used for extra explanation. 2. Family The predominant language used by over 98% of people of Hong Kong in their daily lives is Cantonese. It seems that most families do not encourage their children to speak in English at home. As a result, Hong Kong students lack opportunity to practice or speak English in only few lessons at schools. 3. Students English to Hong Kong students is only a second language, mostly used vocationally in reading and writing.
Hong Kong students are not active in learning English. Moreover, they use English in an improper way. For instance, through ‘’MSN’’, ‘’Facebook’’, students are less likely to use proper grammar English. 4. Government Schools were segregated into English- and Cantonese-medium streams, with only a quarter of more than 400 government-funded secondary schools designated as English-medium. The rest were forced to adopt Cantonese as their language of instruction and to teach English as a second language.
The government’s proposed changes were unlikely to raise English standards. Question 4: How students can improve their English? 1. Read more English books/literature 2. Learn more English songs, and read the lyrics in order to acquire a good command of English. 3. Be confident in speaking English 4. Listen to the English ratio stations 5. Watch more English programmes (BBC) 6. Change the Chinese subtitles into English when watching TV programmes 7. Practice English at any time even when you are taking a shower.