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LCQ9: Learning Putonghua in schools

     Following is a question by the Hon Starry Lee and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim, in the Legislative Council today (May 7):


     The goal of the language education policy of Hong Kong is to develop students to be "biliterate and trilingual". Some Putonghua teachers have pointed out that fostering a good language-learning environment in schools, including the facilitation of more speaking-and-listening occasions in Putonghua for students, is conducive to upgrading their Putonghua standard. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the respective current situation of Putonghua being used to teach the Chinese language and relevant subjects in primary and secondary schools; the percentage of the number of such schools in the total number of schools in Hong Kong; the number of schools using Putonghua as the medium of daily communication in schools; the respective major reasons for some of the primary and secondary schools not using Putonghua to teach the Chinese language;

(2) of the measures in place to encourage schools to use Putonghua to teach the Chinese language; whether it will consider setting phased target percentages in respect of the number of schools using Putonghua to teach the Chinese language; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(3) whether it will take measures to encourage schools to organise more activities like drama, recitation and singing to be conducted in Putonghua, and whether it will consider incorporating such activities into the curriculum, so as to foster a good language-learning environment for developing students' interest in learning Putonghua, thereby upgrading their Putonghua standard; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



(1) The Chinese Language Education Key Learning Area (KLA) covers the Chinese Language, Chinese Literature and Putonghua subjects. With the exception of the Putonghua subject which is taught in Putonghua, schools may flexibly use Cantonese or Putonghua as the medium of instruction for teaching other subjects within this KLA having regard to their own circumstances, such as the readiness of teachers, the standards of students, curriculum planning as well as learning and teaching support. Since the number of schools that use Putonghua to teach the Chinese Language subject may vary every year, we do not have the updated information in this respect.

     The medium of day-to-day communication in school refers to the language commonly used by teachers and students for everyday communication beyond the classroom. Currently, schools may, in the light of their education philosophy, key development emphasis and students' needs, create an enabling environment for the development of biliteracy and trilingualism in school. They may make school-based decisions on the medium of day-to-day communication to be used in school to raise students' abilities to communicate in Chinese, English and Putonghua. Hence, we do not have concrete data on the number of schools which adopt Putonghua as their medium of day-to-day communication.

(2) At present, scholars and schools hold different views on whether Putonghua should be used as the medium of instruction for teaching the Chinese Language subject. There is no consensus mainly because there are many variables affecting the efficacy of Putonghua as the medium of instruction for teaching the Chinese Language subject. Such variables include, for example, teachers' ability to use Putonghua fluently, the language environment of the schools and the social circles of the students concerned. With a view to promoting biliteracy and trilingualism, the Education Bureau (EDB) encourages primary and secondary schools to nurture students' Putonghua proficiency. Having regard to their own circumstances, schools are given the flexibility to use Cantonese and/or Putonghua as the medium of instruction for teaching the Chinese Language subject.

(3) Putonghua lessons stress the use of flexible and diversified teaching strategies to engage students in classroom activities, such as reading aloud, recitations, tongue-twisters, storytelling, role-playing, discussions and presentations, thereby enabling them to learn through interaction and boosting their interest and proficiency in Putonghua.

     Apart from classroom teaching, the EDB encourages schools to organise a wide range of Putonghua extra-curricular activities to extend teaching beyond the classroom, and to cultivate a language-rich environment in school to increase students' exposure to Putonghua. Nowadays, most schools hold Putonghua day or Putonghua week, during which students are enlisted as Putonghua ambassadors and multifarious activities, such as Putonghua game booths, speech competitions, concerts/film shows, talent shows and drama shows, are organised. Schools in general are making good use of multi-media resources, such as campus TV/radio station, to create a Putonghua environment for students to apply what they have learned.

Ends/Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Issued at HKT 12:19


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