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SED encourages students to enhance English proficiency to face 21st century challenges

    The Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, today (June 23) appealed to students to better equip themselves with the knowledge and skills to face the challenges of the 21st century, and to enhance their  English proficiency by active participation in English-speaking environments.

    Speaking at the joint speech day of the Heung Hoi Ching Kok Lin Association's Secondary and Primary Schools and Kindergartens today, Mr Suen encouraged students to develop independent and analytical thinking.  He also shared with students exchanges of views among member economies at the fourth APEC Education Ministerial Meeting (AEMM), which he attended earlier this month.

    He said, "Discussions at the AEMM focused on enhancing the competencies of students and developing the knowledge, the skills and the attitudes that students must possess to face the challenges of the 21st century.

    "Member economies endorsed the priority area of encouraging students to learn each other's languages.  Among others, this priority is seen as a key way to strengthen youths' competitiveness in the global market and to understand other cultures."

    Mr Suen pointed out that many member economies recognised the importance of English in the international arena and in the business community.  Member economies were committed to providing quality education by creating more opportunities to beef up students' ability to communicate in English.  He said that member economies recognised that teacher quality was critical to enhancing learning of English and that teacher training and sharing of teaching materials should be encouraged.

    Mr Suen said, "International trade and financial businesses are mainly conducted in English.  As Hong Kong is a cosmopolitan city, our young generation should possess a good command of English in order to contribute to the development of our nation."

    He said, "We have devoted lots of resources and efforts in promoting English teaching in the past few years. We are now reviewing the effectiveness of these measures and exploring room for improvement.

    "Among them, we aim to further strengthen training of teachers and encourage English language teachers to further their studies to achieve higher standards. The Native-speaking English Teachers (NETs) scheme will also be improved to enable NETs to bring out their best to liven up the learning and teaching of English," he added.

    The Education Bureau has implemented a basket of measures to improve the English-speaking environment to enhance students' English proficiency.  They include:

- provision of NETs for primary and secondary schools to create an English-speaking environment and to liven up the teaching and learning of English;

- students being encouraged to read English books and materials extensively.  Activities such as debating, drama and English camps are organised to arouse students' interest in learning English;

- teachers' training, where all language teachers should attain required qualifications and standards. Teachers teaching in English are regularly taking part in professional development and training;

- financial support to raise English standards and to improve the pedagogies of teachers and opportunities for teachers to pursue further studies and to participate in immersion programmes overseas.

    To have a better grasp of English, Mr Suen encouraged students to listen more, talk more and write more.  They should have the courage to meet failures and learn through trial and error.

    He added that the aim of learning was not limited to pursuing knowledge but was also to cultivate critical and exploratory thinking.  Students should place priority on paying more attention to things happening around them and explore social issues, as well as learn to analyse and tackle problems encountered in life, the workplace and society.  To strengthen such skills has been one of the main objectives of the curriculum reform.

Ends/Monday, June 23, 2008
Issued at HKT 18:37


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