[What’s Up with English in Hong Kong]
By: Jacobus DU PLESSIS (HSBC Prosperity Hall)
It feels like just about every other week that you read a new article by some or other Hong Kong publication about how the standard of English is Hong Kong is lowering or how Hong Kong is no longer as competitive as other Asian states due its lower English standards. Well, you’ve got to ask – for a place with vast material wealth, super-fast internet and almost universal access to media, why don’t they just fix it?
Well, of course there can be no simply answer to a problem as multi-faceted problem as this, but there are some glaringly obvious problems which could easily be resolved.
- English TV Programmes
It is a well-known fact that people are at their most receptive to languages when they are still young. The simple answer then: massively increase the amount of kids’ programmes available in English. This is an easy one for a place with a budget surplus.
- Stop Being Shy
The fastest way to learning a language is to practice it. The culture in Hong Kong where people make fun of one another for not being able to speak English properly (“goodest English”?) is not just counter-productive, but downright illogical. There is nothing funny about someone try to better themselves.
- English Side-Lined as a Language of instruction in Schools
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being proud of Cantonese and promoting it in schools, but the corollary of that is by no means necessarily to put English in the backseat.
The length of article does not allow a full exploration of any of these points, but there is much to be said for all of them. Like it or not English is the World Language and being able to speak is no longer a choice, but a necessity.
文: Jacobus DU PLESSIS（匯豐業昕堂）