Use of English in Chinese Classrooms

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Secretary for Education Michael Suen Ming-yeung defended the new policy, saying it would allow Chinese- medium schools to teach up to 25% of classes in English. Submitted to legislators on January 8, the reforms would also allow Form 1 students in schools where more than 85% are in the top 40 % of their age group to select their language of instruction. Suen said he thought the direction of the proposal is acceptable, because responses from the education sector are 'very encouraging.'

He said that since some students would inevitably show resistance to learning English, the 25% approach would form a balanced system and enable the proper bridging necessary for secondary students to make the switch to English at the college level. But Democrat Party lawmaker Cheung Man-kwong said a direct approach to teaching English is required at both the primary and secondary levels. 'This is not fine-tuning it's wrong- tuning as Chinese-medium teachers will be forced to teach in English. Can they switch to teaching in English overnight? Do we want to sacrifice learning?' he asked. Cheung added that many teachers have voiced fears about the changes, and asked Suen to reassure them. The education chief said teachers should be reassured by the fact that the policies do not place a direct demand on what they have to do. 'The choice now is with the schools. If teachers need training time then fine we will put it into place,' he said.

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