Why is the English Standard Declining in Hong Kong?


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English communication is extremely important as Hong Kong is a multi-cultural city and international financial centre with many foreign companies having offices here. A high level of proficiency in English is essential if Hong Kong is to prosper in future years. Mainland cities like Beijing and Shanghai are already overtaking Hong Kong in many respects such as the number of multi-national companies that have moved their headquarters there.

Hong Kong's competitiveness is dependant on a high level of English proficiency. As traditional industries fade or move away, tourism is increasingly becoming important for HK's economy. From waiters to shop assistants to taxi drivers the English standard has to rise for business to flourish here.

Although English is an official language most government departments and officials use Cantonese. Legislative Council meetings are held in Chinese 99% of the time and public notices in places like the MTR (Mass Transit Railway) and other major organisations increasingly using Chinese only. With government and major transport operators choosing to use Cantonese what impact does this have on youngsters learning English? Well, it certainly doesn't encourage them to study! The official language for teaching in Universities is also English but many lecturers stick to Cantonese as its easier - for them rather than the students I think. How can our university graduates function in the real world of business when given examples like this? When it comes to job interviews many of our university graduates cannot even answer simple interview questions.

Being able to give business presentations in English is a key skill for anyone wanting to move up the career ladder - but once again the majority of students graduating from our centres of academic excellence leave without the communication skills needed to perform effectively in commerce or banking.

Hong Kong really needs to look at the falling standard of English and devise ways to improve the overall proficiency to be at least as good as other ex-colonies such as Singapore or Malaysia. Perhaps some of the universities could even do some research in this area?

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