The first English Festival organised by the Standing Committee on Language Education and Research (SCOLAR) has recorded an encouraging 20 000 participants in its various activities, and over 1.6 million viewers of its TV programme on English usage.
Speaking after the press conference preceding the festival's closing ceremony held today (21 May), Mr Michael Tien, SCOLAR Chairman, said he was proud of the results. "What impressed us the most is not the participant figures. Rather, it is the degree of involvement of our participants.
"In particular, the language teachers involved have shown a tremendous amount of dedication and commitment in striving to create and maximise the language learning environment to motivate their students," he added.
"With the support of the Education and Manpower Bureau and the Legislative Council, we are now actively devising different measures to strengthen our support to language teachers and students in the pre-primary and primary levels through the use of the Language Fund.
"We would wish to focus more resources on teachers' professional development and to address other imminent needs of primary schools and kindergartens. SCOLAR would also examine ways to recruit more quality young men and ladies to join the profession," he said.
English Festival 2005 has seven activities for students and public members of different ages and education background to learn and use English in ways that they would enjoy the most. Mr Tien commented, "There are thousands of ways to improve English outside the classroom and it is open for each individual to explore and seize the opportunities".
His view was echoed by the Permanent Secretary for Education and Manpower, Mrs Fanny Law, who officiated at the closing ceremony. She encouraged students and teachers to look carefully around and take every opportunity in daily life to create their own "English Festival".
The closing ceremony featured participants and winners of various festival activities including the winning teams of the Skipping Rhymes – Jumping Jive who performed skipping with English rhymes, a group of primary students who performed an excerpt of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream", and students from secondary schools using Chinese as medium of instruction who demonstrated how to use English in debating, word games and poetry writing.
The English Festival Ambassadors, Mandy Cho and Alex Fong, along with Canto-pop band "at17" and singers Ryan Hui and Chet Lam, teamed up to perform at the ceremony.
The event was recorded by TVB and will be edited for broadcasting on its Jade Channel on 3 June (Friday) at 11:05 p.m.
Funded by the Language Fund, the English Festival 2005 features a range of activities during April and May, including drama performances and workshops, skipping with rhyme competitions, debating, poetry writing, spelling competitions, newspaper editing seminars to television programmes.
Established in 1996, SCOLAR advises the Government on language education issues and the use of the Language Fund.