Date
19 August 2017
Lam Kin-ping, mandarin teaching expert at CUHK, says schools should decide their teaching language based on their real needs. Photo: RTHK.
Lam Kin-ping, mandarin teaching expert at CUHK, says schools should decide their teaching language based on their real needs. Photo: RTHK.

More primary schools adopt mandarin, but results patchy

About one-third of the primary schools in Hong Kong have adopted mandarin in their Chinese language courses, embracing it amid the government’s efforts to promote its usage. However, opinions are divided among teachers and scholars as to what impact it is having, RTHK reported.

As of now, 357 schools in Hong Kong have adopted mandarin in their Chinese language courses, accounting for 35 percent of the total schools in the city. The ratio has increased by 10 percentage points from a decade ago, according to the report.

That comes after the Curriculum Development Council set a long-term goal of adopting mandarin in teaching Chinese at local schools in 2000.

Pui Ching Primary School adopted the approach for the first grade five years ago, and then gradually expanded to other grades. Right now, all grades are taught Chinese with mandarin.

“The approach has helped students improve their Chinese writing, as the grammar in spoken and written Chinese are now the same,” the report quoted a Chinese teacher at the school as saying.

However, Chan Lok-hang, organizer of Hong Kong Language Studies, a pro-Cantonese group of netizens, said some students in schools that have adopted mandarin said they still find it difficult how to ask questions in mandarin at class and have difficulty in expressing themselves during group discussion, the report said.

Asked if teaching in mandarin can improve students’ understanding of Chinese, Lam Kin-ping, director of the Centre for Research and Development of Putonghua Education at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, said it depends on the overall language environment at schools. Schools should decide the teaching language based on their real needs, he said. 

“Whether the approach helps or not depends on the teachers and the language environment of the school,” the report quoted a scholar on mandarin studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Chen Zhiqiang, a 20-year-old mainland student moving to Hong Kong, said since Cantonese is part of the Hong Kong culture, local people should defend the language. Chen participated in a student group advocating Cantonese, Apple Daily reported.

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Freelance journalist

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