The English Festival organised by the Standing Committee on Language Education and Research (SCOLAR) marked a successful return this year with nearly 40 000 students and teachers participating in various activities, almost doubling last year's figure.
In addition, over 1.45 million viewers tuned in to watch the festival's two TV programmes on English usage and reading.
Speaking after the festival's closing ceremony today (31 May), Mr Michael Tien, Chairman of SCOLAR, said that this year's activities not only well covered the four language skills, namely listening, reading, writing and speaking, but also catered for the specific needs of students and the public of different ages and education background.
"The participant figures prove again that SCOLAR's efforts in creating an English language environment outside the classroom through organising different activities during the English Festival are well-received by our students," he said.
He was also impressed by the dedication and passionate shown by the language teachers.
"The active participation of language teachers in briefing sessions and workshops about folk songs, drama and debating after a day of work or various events held on weekends is most encouraging," Mr Tien said.
He also thanked the festival ambassadors, at17 and Mr Chet Lam, for their participation, which had attracted more students and members of the public to join the festival, and showed to the community the important role played by entertainers in reminding Hong Kong people of the importance of being biliterate and trilingual.
Mr Tien, Mr Chris Wardlaw, Deputy Secretary for Education and Manpower, and Mr Stephen S. K. Chan, Chairman of the English Festival 2006 Organising Committee and Member of SCOLAR, officiated at the English Festival 2006 Closing Ceremony.
Speaking at the closing ceremony, Mr Wardlaw encouraged young people to create their own daily English learning routine, both inside and outside the classroom, at home and in the community.
"One of our fundamental beliefs in language education is that there is no short-cut to mastering a language and in order to really improve one must learn the language everywhere and everyday," he said.
The closing ceremony also featured highlights of various festival activities. The Outstanding Performance Gold Award winners in the English musical competition Singing English with Fun and another group of primary school students from Shakespeare4All performed excerpts from the musical drama "Children of Eden" and Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" respectively.
Some 150 primary school students who have recently participated in making a Hong Kong record of the largest number of primary students singing on one single day also sang a folk song to "teach the world to sing in perfect harmony".
Winning teams of the English Survivor Competition also partnered with the English Festival 2006 Ambassadors to demonstrate how to learn English through games.
The winners of the creative writing competition, Photo Stories – Through My Eyes, shared their articles on what they are grateful for in their home and environment. An "English Tree" was also unveiled at the event to display the winning articles of the competition.
The "English Tree" will be on roving exhibition at schools, Hong Kong Central Library and other venues starting from June. For the exhibition schedule, please refer to the SCOLAR website at http://www.language-education.com.
The closing ceremony has been recorded by TVB and will be edited for broadcasting on its Jade Channel on 1 June (Thursday) at 11:05 p.m.
Funded by the Language Fund, the English Festival was debuted in 2005 to raise public interest in the learning and use of English. Seven school-based activities – drama, debate, games, music, painting, writing, and two television programmes were launched this year.
Established in 1996, SCOLAR advises the Government on language education issues and the use of the Language Fund.