Hong Kong beginning to lose its fluency in English?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Vista de nocte de Victoria Peak in Hong Kong. Desde li annu 1998 it sembla que Hong Kong ha perdit mult fluentie in li lingue anglesi.

An article here from The Malaysian Insider has the story on the efforts of the government in Hong Kong to reinstate English education in a number of schools as the city's English ability has apparently dropped quite a bit since 1998 when restrictions were placed on the usage of English in the classroom:
The long-running and often bitter row over Hong Kong's mother-tongue policy has taken a new turn, with the government set to ease restrictions on the use of English in the classroom. Currently, only 114 of more than 400 secondary schools in Hong Kong are allowed to conduct classes in English.

In a proposal submitted to lawmakers last month, about 80 more secondary schools could be given the choice to switch to English.

That is a significant U-turn on the controversial policy implemented 11 years ago, which ordered these schools to use only Cantonese — the city's mother tongue — as their medium, erasing English from their classrooms except for teaching it as a second language.

Changing a language from a medium of instruction for certain subjects into a subject itself is a surefire way to decrease fluency. This doesn't mean that the other way around necessarily works however; in Korea the idea of conducting certain classes in English only has been batted about, but the simple fact is that there aren't enough teachers that are capable of conducting classes in English in the first place so it's simply not possible.

Some more of the difficulties encountered by those trying to live in Hong Kong using English only and people looking for English-speaking staff:

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.

Singaporean Alison Jenner, who married a Hong Kong resident and moved to the city four years ago, took up Cantonese lessons after finding it difficult to get around with English.

“Even at fast-food restaurants, the staff couldn't understand me when I asked for salt or pepper in English,” she said.

As an IAL advocate of course I'm a bit pleased at the news, as the sooner we realize that English isn't on the verge of worldwide victory as the planet's second language the better, and then we can start embarking on the process of establishing a practical second language (my favourite of course is Occidental) that doesn't take as long to learn as a natural language like English does.


  © Blogger templates Newspaper by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP