Fwd: Cantonese-medium instruction in Hong Kong
- FYI, this item concerning how HK students studying in their first language,
Cantonese, also performed favorably in English compared to students who
followed the English only curriculum. I suspect they also had better Cantonese
skills than than the students taught in English as medium of instruction (hence
more likely to have high bilingual literacy, among other things). It would also
be interesting to know about performance in Mandarin Chinese. (Fwd from Stephen
Krashen's distribution list)... DZO
No letter to the editor, just a comment. OK to
Two articles of interest from Hong Kong. It is very
hard to draw firm conclusions from standardized test
data, but if Hong Kong students are in fact doing
better in English from a Cantonese-based curriculum,
as compared to English-medium, as suggested, it could
be because (1) they have more mother-tongue education,
which means firmer knowledge of subject matter, which
in turn means they understand much more of the English
they hear and read, and (2) the English-medium classes
are not as comprehensible as they could be.
August 10, 2005
Higher results for Chinese-medium schools
Chinese-medium schools have performed better in this
year's Certificate of Education Examination, including
in English language, Secretary for Education &
Manpower Professor Arthur Li says.
During his visit to the Methodist Church HK Wesley
College in Chai Wan today, Professor Li said the
proportion of Chinese-medium students obtaining five
or more subject passes increased 5.6%. And their
English results have shown continuous improvement.
The proportion of students obtaining a pass in English
(syllabus B) and a credit in English (syllabus A) have
increased remarkably. Of the 200 schools switching
from English-medium to Chinese in 1998, more have
exceeded their attainments in 2002, up from 40 schools
in 2003 and 80 in 2004, to 120 in 2005.
In addition, 75%, or 150 schools, have their pass
rates in English (syllabus B) or credit rates in
English (syllabus A) higher than those of 2004.
"This reflects that the overall English language
standard of students in Chinese-medium schools is on a
steady rise and we can also re-affirm that
mother-tongue teaching indeed can enhance our
students' acquisition of subject knowledge," he said.
Mother-tongue education is working well, Li asserts
August 11, 2005
Education chief Arthur Li insisted Wednesday that Hong
Kong students are reaping the rewards of the switch to
mother-tongue teaching that began eight years ago -
and that educators should be lauding their progress
instead of insulting them.
The broadside from the Secretary for Education and
Manpower followed criticism that improved English
results at this year's Hong Kong Certificate of
Education Examination came about only because more
students had switched from a harder English
curriculum, which requires longer essays and higher
comprehension levels, to a much easier one.
The number of students sitting for the easier course
increased by 25.3 percent to 28,733 this year, from
22,933 in 2004, while the numbers dropped in the
harder course from 50,978 in 2004 to 48,276 this year.
As a general rule, a ``C'' grade in Syllabus A, the
easier course, is the equivalent of an ``E'' grade in
Syllabus B, the harder one. Nonetheless, while
acknowledging that Syllabus A is easier, Li said
results from the more than 200 secondary schools that
had been forced to switch to
Chinese-medium-of-instruction (CMI) are sufficient
proof that the system is working effectively. Li said
that in 2003, about 40 of the 200 schools showed
better results over the previous year when English was
still the medium of instruction. In 2004, 80 of the
200 schools boasted better results and that this year
the number had risen to 120.
Pass rates, he said, matter more, with the pass rate
of the easier Syllabus A rising from 45.3 percent in
2002 to 48 percent in 2003, 48.9 percent in 2004 and
52.2 percent this year. In the harder course, Syllabus
B, the pass rate of 68 percent in 2002 fell slightly
to 66.3 percent in 2003 before rising to 70.2 percent
in 2004 and 74.8 percent this year.
``Instead of words of encouragement to our young
people, we go on criticizing them and I think this is
very unhealthy and very unfair to them,'' Li said. ``
Our students are doing better.''
Explaining why CMI students are getting better
results, the bureau's principal assistant secretary,
Lam Fan Kit-fong, said students are now able to learn
English as a subject, rather than having to digest
English as the medium of instruction for most
However, Choi Kwok-kwong, vice chairman of Education
Convergence, a concern group, said the government
should give precise figures for the number of CMI
students who sat for Syllabus A and Syllabus B and
provide the exact pass rate for each group so that the
public can better gauge whether the mother-tongue
switch is really working. Choi also urged the
government to give EMI schools more resources so that
they can better help their students learn
English.``Instead of just saying CMI schools are doing
better in English, the government should investigate
why parents believe CMI schools are inferior to
Au Pak-kuen, vice-president of the Hong Kong
Professional Teachers' Union, said many other factors
affect the school performance, including the quality
of students allocated to them, and that reliable data
is needed for proper assessment of the results.
Lam Tat-yan, principal of the Chung Sing Benevolent
Society's Mrs Aw Boon Haw Secondary School, agreed
that the switch of some students from English Syllabus
B to Syllabus A had helped his school get better
results. He said that last year, when all students in
the school sat for Syllabus B, the pass rate was only
20.8 percent. However this year, 60 of the 122
students switched to Syllabus A and managed a pass
rate of 26.7 percent.
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