The Standing Committee on Language Education and Research (SCOLAR) will set up a dedicated team to develop more comprehensive models of quality English exposure at pre-primary level through strengthening support in English education to kindergartens starting 2007/08 school year.
In an experience-sharing session held today (21 April), SCOLAR Chairman Mr Michael Tien said improving the quality of exposure to English for pupils at pre-primary level was a lengthy process requiring a long term commitment.
"With provision of resources, SCOLAR will work with schools in phases", he said.
"Findings of a pilot scheme launched by SCOLAR in 2005 to better understand the needs and challenges of kindergartens and teachers of Hong Kong in providing young learners with quality English exposure indicated that support for English language teaching at pre-primary level is definitely essential."
"A survey conducted in 2006 to help inform SCOLAR in the formulation of a more comprehensive strategy on supporting pre-primary English education also indicated that majority of the kindergartens would like to receive support on professional development on English language teaching, school-based support and training on identifying suitable learning and teaching materials to meet pupils' needs," he added.
In view of this, the dedicated team to be set up by SCOLAR will focus on providing professional development opportunities for kindergarten teachers on quality English exposure of young learners, intensive on-site support on curriculum/lesson planning and executions, and use of appropriate learning/teaching materials.
SCOLAR's initiative was welcomed by front-line practitioners in the pre-primary education sector. Principal Education Secretary of Po Leung Kuk Mr Clifton Yeung said it was the right time for change of culture at pre-primary level. Teachers and parents should have a better understanding about the quality English language education for young learners at pre-primary level.
"It is a prudent approach for SCOLAR to work with some schools and teachers first and then expand their effort by phases. Teachers may also share their work experience with colleagues as well as teachers in other schools," he advised.
School heads of kindergartens participating in SCOLAR's pilot scheme also showed their support to the setting up of the dedicated team.
Ms Lau Tak Oi of Lei Yue Mun Methodist Kindergarten, Ms Cheung So Yin of Ching Chung Wu King Kindergarten and Ms Ng Sin Lam of St Margaret Mary's Catholic Kindergarten were all pleased to see the changes of their teachers and pupils and the school culture after being involved in the pilot scheme.
Under the scheme, an expert group was set up to pilot support measures for pre-primary teachers in providing quality exposure to English for pupils in selected kindergartens through school visits, organising workshops on basic pedagogical knowledge and appropriate teaching strategies for teachers, and working with teachers on lesson planning, conducting class observation and follow-up conferencing.
The school heads suggested that, while improving teachers' English proficiency and confidence in conducting English language activities in classes, educating the parents would also be necessary.
Mr Tien promised that SCOLAR, following the setting up of the dedicated team, would look into the matter and other difficulties that kindergartens may encounter. It was expected that more details of the team would be announced in a month or two.
The pilot scheme on supporting pre-primary English education launched by SCOLAR provided intensive support to seven selected kindergartens. In the survey conducted in 2006, about one-third of kindergartens and nursery schools from the territory-wide were involved.
Established in 1996, SCOLAR advises the Government on language education issues and the use of the Language Fund.