Hong Kong is a world-class city in which English is widely used as an international language. The English standard of students keeps falling. This has a negative effect on business in Hong Kong becuase businesses have to spend more money on recruitment, testing amd employee training, making Hong Kong become less competitive. In order to address the problem, the cause of this phenomenon should be discussed first.
There are three main reason behind this phenomenon. First of all, English has lost some of its status after 1997. So students are not as motivated to learn English as they used to be. Meanwhile, Putongua is more important nowadays so some of them ignore the importance of English. They are not willing to sacrifice their time for English. That’s why their English standard falls like the Hung Shang Index in 2003 during the period of the SARS.
Businessmen pointed out that many students have difficulty carrying out simple conservation. It is due to the lack of an English-speaking environment and opportunities to practise. No improvement can be made without persistent practice. The situation is better in EMI schools in which most of the subjects are taught in English, for instance, Biology, Economics, Chemistry, etc. But still it is not enough. Sadly, the situation in other schools like the CHI schools is worrying. The poor English standard of there students strikes fears into our hearts. It is not the fault of the students but the learning atmosphere in Hong Kong that leads to the situation. They have no way to practise as there are only scanty opportunities.
When you queue at a bus station, wait for the MTR, even walk on the road,. could you notice that there is one common posture of the people? They are holding an IT gadget, pointing on the screen, staring at the laptop. It is undeniable that communicating with others via different Apps such as whatsapp, line using IT gadgets is convenient. However, most students overuse short-form such as typing “ with” as “wif”, deeply affecting their English standard.
The situation in Hong Kong has not been in serious disarray yet and can be solved by a word “ ENG” which stands for “ English”.
“E” stands for encouraging students to join English Clubs in which they can watch educational English TV, listen to English radio programmes, read English newspapers and magazines and visit English websites. English language skills can be accumulated throught the above activities. New vocabulary can be learnt to enrich their vocabulary bank as well.
“ N” stands for nourishing the interest of students in learing English. English is not as boring as they think. The school can illustrate the usefulness and importance of English. Also, introducing the special features of this language is feasible, for example, holding exhibition to introduce the history, combination of letters, usage of English. Exhibiting the magical nature of English is fantastic as thousands of millions of words can be spelt using only 26 letters. How miraculous English is, just like a magician! By doing so, students’ interest in learning English can be nourished.
“ G” stands for giving students more opportunities to meet and interact with westerners so that the language takes on a practical importance. Hong Kong students are afraid of speaking English in front of people as English is not their mother tongue. More importantly, they are worried about making mistakes. They don’t want to make mistakes so they choose not to speak. That’s why when they are asked to communicate in English, they become tongue-tied. By interacting with westerners,students can learn to overcome the barrier and learn to speak fluently. Communication skills can thus be accumulated through countless practices. Communicating in English becomes no longer a big deal to students.
There are various reasons for the falling standard of English among students. There is not any quick solution. Students need to be motivated and given opportunities to use English as “ Practise makes perfect”. Remember “ ENG” and take action now!