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Consultation launched on Language Education Review
2 January 2003


The Standing Committee on Language Education and Research (SCOLAR) issued a consultation document entitled "Action Plan to Raise Language Standards in Hong Kong" and launched a two-month public consultation exercise today (2 January).

Public views are sought on the findings and recommendations of a language education review conducted by the Committee.  The Committee will consider the views collected and prepare its final recommendations for submission to the Government.

Speaking at a press conference today, Chairman of SCOLAR Mr Michael Tien said that the review focused on two major issues specifying the language competencies expected of students and working adults, and raising students' motivation for language learning.

For the former issue, Mr Tien said that SCOLAR recommended setting basic language competencies for primary and secondary students, university graduates and professional groups.

"The language proficiency of students and working adults should then be assessed against the basic competencies set for their education levels," he said.

To raise students' motivation for language learning, SCOLAR recommends engaging all relevant parties to enhance the language learning environment in Hong Kong through

(a) Upgrading the curriculum development and pedagogical capability as well as subject knowledge of language teachers;
(b) Improving the administrative and professional support from the school management to language teaching and learning;
(c) Educating and encouraging parents to play a more active role in their children's language learning; and
(d) Promoting more effective use of the resources available in the community, such as the mass media, in language learning.

The review findings and recommendations are summarised at the Annex.

"Being biliterate and trilingual has been our competitive advantage.  Increasing globalisation and a more open China market have made it more important than ever to enhance the English and Chinese proficiency of the community as a whole to meet the challenges of the future," Mr Tien said.

"Employers have repeatedly expressed concern about the declining language standards among employees.  It is vital that we raise our language standards if we are to consolidate Hong Kong's position as Asia's world city," he added.

"We look forward to receiving constructive views from the public on this very important issue," Mr Tien said.

In early 2001, the Secretary for Education and Manpower invited SCOLAR to conduct the review.

As part of the review, the Committee has studied relevant literature and official documents, visited local primary and secondary schools, and carried out a survey on students' attitude and motivation.  It has also had in-depth discussions with teachers, principals, kindergarten operators, parents, academics, employers, and representatives of education bodies on

(a) language standards;
(b) language teachers;
(c) language curriculum and pedagogy; and
(d) support from school management, parents and the wider community to language learning.

The consultation document is available at District Offices and the Committee's website at  Members of the public are welcome to send their views in writing to the SCOLAR Support Unit on or before 28 February 2003

Address: SCOLAR Support Unit, 17/F Murray Building, Garden Road, Central, Hong Kong
Fax: 3150 8018
Enquiries: 2186 7191

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 biliterate and trilingual capability of the local population.