The Standing Committee on Language Education and Research (SCOLAR) today (27 June) issued the final report of its language education review.
Titled "Action Plan to Raise Language Standards in Hong Kong", the final review report summarises the views received by the Committee in the public consultation exercise conducted in the first two months of this year and sets out the final recommendations of the Committee.
Speaking at a press briefing to release the "Action Plan", Chairman of SCOLAR, Mr Michael Tien, thanked members of the public for sharing many valuable ideas and suggestions with the Committee.
"We have considered the views expressed in the 193 submissions received in the public consultation exercise and revised our recommendations as appropriate," Mr Tien said.
The public was generally supportive of the Committee's recommendations in the following two key directions:
(a) Language competencies expected of students and workforce should be specified to reflect the current and future needs of society; and
(b) All relevant parties in the community should work together to create a more motivating language learning environment.
Highlighting the SCOLAR's key recommendations, Mr Tien said, "To improve the quality of language education in schools, we have emphasised the need to upgrade the professional preparation of our language teachers and reform our language curricula and pedagogy."
SCOLAR recommends that from the 2004/05 school year onwards, new language teachers joining the profession should hold a Bachelor of Education degree majoring in the relevant language, or a first degree and a Postgraduate Diploma or Certificate in Education both majoring in the relevant language. Those who have not yet attained the recommended qualifications when they join the teaching force should acquire them within three to five years.
"If a school management finds it necessary to appoint a candidate who has not received any initial teacher training to teach a language subject in their school, we recommend that the new recruit should complete a preparatory course before and/or shortly after they take up teaching duties," Mr Tien said.
"The preparatory course should equip these new teachers with basic language teaching skills before they continue on to pursue a regular teacher training programme," he added.
But Mr Tien stressed that language education was not only a matter for school management, language teachers and students.
"Members of the wider community, particularly parents, employers and the mass media, must cooperate with the Government to create a more motivating language learning environment and raise the general language standards in Hong Kong," he said.
Mr Tien said he was glad to see that the Government had accepted the SCOLAR's final recommendations and was committed to implementing them.
"Our recent experience with the SARS outbreak shows us how important tourism and international trade are to the economy of Hong Kong. To maintain and further our position as Asia's world city, we must do all we can to improve the overall biliterate and trilingual competence of our current and future workforce," Mr Tien said.
On the work of SCOLAR in the years ahead, Mr Tien said there would be two major foci.
"Firstly, we will work with the Government and other relevant parties to oversee the implementation of our recommendations and evaluate their effect on language education."
"Secondly, we will continue to identify and conduct or commission projects that are of value to the advancement of language education in Hong Kong. Following on Putonghua Month 2002, we will sponsor, with support from the Language Fund, a Putonghua Festival in mid-September to mid-November this year. We are considering organising a similar annual campaign to raise public interest in the learning and use of English," he explained.
Moreover, SCOLAR will continue with its efforts to promote English television programmes as a resource for the teaching and learning of English among secondary school teachers and students. It is also planning to commission research studies on the conditions necessary for a successful switch to using Putonghua to teach Chinese Language.
A summary of SCOLAR's final recommendations is found in the attached pamphlet that will be distributed to the public through the District Offices of the Home Affairs Department. The final review report will be posted on the SCOLAR website (http://www.language-education.com) for public access, and copies will be sent to educational institutions and related bodies.
SCOLAR was established on the recommendation of the Education Commission Report No. 6 in October 1996 to advise the Government on language education issues in general as well as on the use of the Language Fund.
The Language Fund was set up in March 1994. Over the years, it has sponsored close to 260 projects undertaken by various organisations, including tertiary institutions, schools, community and educational bodies, to enhance the language proficiency of the local population.
|Document(s) for Download|
|Annex 1 – Summary of Recommendations|
|Annex 2 – Recommended Professional Development for Chinese and English Language Teachers by Categories of Qualifications Held|