docpepz
Posts: 1706
Joined: Thu May 24, 2001 8:20 pm

English In Hong Kong!

Fri Apr 19, 2002 4:51 pm

Hey all you Hong Kongers out there:

I'm just wondering, why is it that many Hong Kongers do not seem to possess a reasonable command of English, despite the fact that Britain was your colonial master for 156 years? Did they never impose it upon Hong Kong?

As a tourist there, I found it rather difficult to communicate with the locals. (Of course I'm not referring to professionals, I'm referring to the man in the street) According to a friend who has been to both Beijing and Hong Kong, she claims that you can find more English speaking people in Beijing than HK. (Though I take that with a large pinch of salt)

Since you're now under Chinese rule, I would expect a larger proportion of Hong Kongers to speak Mandarin as well, but this is clearly not the case.

My 17 year old cousin from Hong Kong visited me last year in Singapore and I found it really difficult communicating with her. She only spoke Cantonese and her English was limited to diplomatic pleasantries, with her command of Mandarin being completely non existent.

The British left Singapore nearly 40 years ago yet English is more widely spoken here than any other Asian country. It's ironic that even when HK was under British rule, the level of spoken English was not the best.....

Comments, my Hong Kong friends?? Cheers!

 Smile/happy/getting dizzy
 
notdownnlocked
Posts: 921
Joined: Sun Sep 03, 2000 1:45 pm

RE: English In Hong Kong!

Fri Apr 19, 2002 5:43 pm

I've been to HK many times but my only guess and prediction is that you will be hit hard for this post. I'll stand by and watch and quietly shake my head in shame for you.
 
TNboy
Posts: 1115
Joined: Mon Mar 04, 2002 8:12 pm

RE: English In Hong Kong!

Fri Apr 19, 2002 5:51 pm

I'm with Notdownlocked. Hate to say it, but we English-speaking people have a terrible assumed arrogance when we travel, in that we expect English to be readily understood, spoken and signed everywhere. We're really lucky that it is, in fact, so widesly used. I'm a bit in awe of people who are fluent in 3 or more languages. In many years of dealing with executives from many countries, and especially many Asian countries, I have been pleasantly surprised at their (varying) command of English...and their courtesy in using it whenever possible in speaking to english-speakers.
Incidentally, I've never had any problem being understood in HK, and don't anticipate any when I return there next month.
Cheers
Bill
"...every aircraft is subtly different.."
 
eal401
Posts: 451
Joined: Wed Jul 04, 2001 9:06 pm

RE: English In Hong Kong!

Fri Apr 19, 2002 6:01 pm

I'm also with Notdownlocked! That was a horribly patronising post. I would expect the "man-in-the-street" to speak Chinese or similar, certainly not English regardless of colonial rule (which ended 5 years ago!).
 
docpepz
Posts: 1706
Joined: Thu May 24, 2001 8:20 pm

RE: English In Hong Kong!

Fri Apr 19, 2002 6:12 pm

The purpose of this post is to discuss the level of English in Hong Kong WITH REGARDS TO its former status as a British colony.

I never did imply that it was right or wrong etc....

I am well aware of the fact that in the business world in HK, English is widely spoken. It's just that in my opinion (read: my opinion, which means it is NOT necessarily the truth, nor might it be a fact), from my experience in HK, English is not as widely spoken in the streets as one might expect it to be.

Which is NOT necessarily a bad thing. While Singapore has made English the language of administration, it has allowed Western influences to erode much of its Asian heritage and culture.

There are many Hong Kongers on this forum who possess an excellent command of English too. I can name 9V-SPK and Hkgspotter1 off my head, but I'm sure there are many more.

If my original post did seem offensive, I offer my apologies. I hope we can continue this discussion without any animosity.

TNboy:
I'm ethnically Asian living in Singapore so English is technically not my mother tongue, which would be Chinese. Cantonese, to be exact, which is the language spoken in Hong Kong.

Once again, this is not a post about the arrogance of English-speakers or whether speaking English is good or bad. I would just like to know the language policy of the British towards the people of Hong Kong when it was sill under their administration. Also, my experience in Hong Kong and with my Hong Konger cousin is probably not representative of the whole territory so I welcome views which are contrary to mine.

I know that a sizeable number of expatriates and even Indians in Hong Kong speal fluent Cantonese which is indeed laudable! Puts people with cantonese backgrounds like me, who can barely say "lei hou ma", very much to shame! ("lei hou ma" means "are you going well")
 
docpepz
Posts: 1706
Joined: Thu May 24, 2001 8:20 pm

RE: English In Hong Kong!

Fri Apr 19, 2002 6:18 pm

I would like to repeat that I never meant to offend anyone here.

However, if any of you find this discussion offensive, and I would completely understand why, please suggest deletion and we could go on in peace.....

Thanks a lot.
 
United Airline
Posts: 8766
Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2001 5:24 pm

RE: English In Hong Kong!

Fri Apr 19, 2002 6:23 pm

Hong Kong is an International Financial Center. It is a billingual city. Therefore, I believe that Hong Kong people have high English/Chinese standards........

Especially the ones who went to The Hong Kong University.

Just my 2 cents.

Regards.
 
ChickenOrBeef
Posts: 73
Joined: Sat Feb 10, 2001 5:02 pm

RE: English In Hong Kong!

Fri Apr 19, 2002 6:25 pm

Well, another Hong Kong Vs Singapore topic huh .... Seems its not chaotic enough in this forum ... go ahead and continue to stir things up .... what a prick!
If your English is so good, go and modify that crap to a
moderate tone !

COB
 
707CMF
Posts: 4698
Joined: Thu Mar 14, 2002 5:39 pm

RE: English In Hong Kong!

Fri Apr 19, 2002 7:12 pm

I spent one week in HK last year as a business traveler, amd I made the mistake to lose my way far from the town center. To my surprise, the policeman I asked my way to did not speak English, and I got back to the hotel only by chance.

Another day in a HK mall, I wanted to get into a shop, but a man at the door started to tell me something (in Cantonese of course), which I did not understand. He then pointed a paper on the door, agin written in Chinese, and then I recognized the hanzi meaning 'hour' (it pays to have learned a bit of Japanese  Big grin ) and I understood that the shop was closing.

As for my business interlocutors, they spoke a good English, but their accent made it quite difficult to understand. Okay, ze responsibility is shared, as my made in France english accent is not perfect either  Big grin

So, I agree with Docpepz. As a former british colony *and* an international business center, the English level there is a bit low.

Just my 2c as well
 
hawkeye2
Posts: 227
Joined: Thu Mar 14, 2002 5:24 pm

RE: English In Hong Kong!

Fri Apr 19, 2002 7:16 pm

FWIW, in my times in HKG as an American tourist, the young people (like teenagers or college students), and yes, I mean the Chinese, seem to speak English OK.

OK, meaning not perfect or fluent, but enough for them to understand you. (And of course, English in Singapore is hardly perfect either... what's with that Singlish?  Smile )

Both Hong Kong and Singapore are still worlds above Japan (from personal experience living there for several years), China, and probably other non former British colonies in Asia though in average English ability.
 
ly772
Posts: 1269
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RE: English In Hong Kong!

Fri Apr 19, 2002 7:43 pm

When I was there with my father some 2 years ago, I remember that in the markets, the old men and women don't speak english, so they bargin with numbers and you use calculators! It was hilarious. I kept squaring the number to piss the guy off.
 
9V-SVE
Posts: 1953
Joined: Mon Nov 12, 2001 7:51 pm

RE: English In Hong Kong!

Fri Apr 19, 2002 7:45 pm

hehehe, Singlish-Phua Chu Kang.
 
docpepz
Posts: 1706
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RE: English In Hong Kong!

Fri Apr 19, 2002 7:54 pm

Yes Hawkeye, English in Singapore is hardly perfect....lah.

And neither is our Chinese. An entire generation of Singaporeans have grown up learning English as their first language, yet it's not native to them. As a result, most Singaporeans speak bad English and bad Chinese. as in, if you were to classify us as an English speaking nation, we would have the lowest standards of English in the English speaking world. If you were to classify us as a Chinese speaking nation, we would have the lowest standards of Chinese in the Chinese speaking world. However, if you ask us to speak to you in a smattering of English and Chinese which most people here speak in, we would be top of the world!

In my last year of high school, we had to host some Taiwanese students. And they were baffled at the elementary level of Chinese we learnt at Advanced Level!

 
n949wp
Posts: 1398
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2000 3:45 pm

RE: English In Hong Kong!

Fri Apr 19, 2002 9:42 pm

A view from a native Hong Konger......

I think the ethnic composition of Hong Kong vs. that of Singapore may be a significant factor in determining the standards of English of the average man on the street.

In Singapore, with Chinese, Malays and Indians forming the bulk of the population, English probably becomes a convenient common language amongst the various ethnic groups. So, at least a basic level of English is maintained in Singapore.

However, here in Hong Kong, the population is overwhelmingly Cantonese Chinese (I believe 90% or more). There is really no need for us to use English at all in our daily interactions with others, unless dictated by our jobs or whatever. So, it doesn't matter whether the British have ruled for over 150 years or whether English is a mandatory subject in school. The simple lack of usage will ensure that whatever little that was learned in school will be eroded away. Heck, I studied French myself for over three years during my early teens, and could carry on a reasonable conversation and comprehend articles in magazines and newspapers. But after years of "inactivity", little or nothing is left now!! So, basically, it's "use it or lose it".

Then again, the standard English course curriculum found in most schools here in Hong Kong are a joke anyway. It appears that the only objective is to familiarize students with the format of the various public exams here, so that English test scores will be high. The shortcomings of the standard curriculum becomes woefully clear once outside of the testing environment, when even college students who have studied the language for a decade or longer can't even compose a half-decent job application letter. It's a sad situation indeed.  Sad

Just my two HK cents......

'949
 
D-AIGW
Posts: 258
Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2001 4:57 pm

RE: English In Hong Kong!

Fri Apr 19, 2002 9:49 pm

As a 17-year-old 100% Hong Konger who's about to graduate from the high school equivalent here, I can indeed vouch that what Docpepz said is true...

It is very true that most of the people here are in good command of only Cantonese and not Mandarin or English. When I talk to an average 17yo that I get to know online, some hardly understand English at all... and most can't even get to communciate properly in Mandarin. Now guess what, they have a 'degenerate' English being in use on ICQ, and this so-called language is unimaginably horrible. Better cases include "Eat dinner?" "You go not go out?" And when they start to include the Cantonese interjections it literally makes the sentence totally incomprehensible to a foreigner: "I want think sin ar, you date other ppl la"

Thank God I'm one of the few youngsters here who has (at least fairly!) good command of all three of those languages, with French as an extra... ah well maybe Mandarin and Cantonese both belong to the Chinese language!
 
NWA
Posts: 1162
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RE: English In Hong Kong!

Fri Apr 19, 2002 9:49 pm

He was asking a simple, cool headed question guys. It brings up a good point. T & T is britished influence, and they speak semi-clear english. He just wanted to know. insted of waisting a post, why dont you answer the question?
23 victor, turn right heading 210, maintain 3000 till established, cleared ILS runwy 24.
 
D-AIGW
Posts: 258
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RE: English In Hong Kong!

Fri Apr 19, 2002 9:54 pm

LOL N949WP, the curriculum here for English is certainly a *blatant* joke... may I use the word "offensive"...
 
TNboy
Posts: 1115
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RE: English In Hong Kong!

Fri Apr 19, 2002 9:56 pm

And is English your second, or perhaps third language? It's difficult to tell.
Bill
"...every aircraft is subtly different.."
 
TNboy
Posts: 1115
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RE: English In Hong Kong!

Fri Apr 19, 2002 9:59 pm

Sorry D-AIGW, you posted while I was typing - my question was for the previous post.
Bill
"...every aircraft is subtly different.."
 
Cathay Pacific
Posts: 1715
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RE: English In Hong Kong!

Fri Apr 19, 2002 10:05 pm

D-AIGW:

Well said!!!

HK's education system is an absolute joke!!
cathay pacific, now you're really flying
 
docpepz
Posts: 1706
Joined: Thu May 24, 2001 8:20 pm

RE: English In Hong Kong!

Fri Apr 19, 2002 10:42 pm

I'm glad to know that we now have a serious, fruitful discussion going on with regards to the usage of English in Asia.

I understand from my HK friends that a huge number of schools in the HK education system are Catholic schools. Do even those schools teach in cantonese, or are they in English?

Anyway in Singapore everyone takes the Cambridge GCE O (GCSE) and A level exams, except for mother tongue papers which are administered locally. (I don't think it'd be wise having them Brits mark our Chinese or Malay papers!) Also, if you fail English, you'd be considered to have failed the whole year and will be required to repeat. Also, you don't get an A or O level cert if you fail English, so even if you get As for everything else, TOO BAD!

Command of the English language is certainly not a huge factor required for economic success. Hong Kong is clearly a larger financial centre when compared to Singapore. Singapore may have the third largest stock exchange in Asia but it's still (I think) 10 times smaller than HK. CNN has its main Asian bureau in HK, though CNBC has its in Singapore. China threatens both cities as financial hubs now! (We must do something about it you know!!! )

By the way, even though I'm ethnically Chinese-Indian and have lived in Singapore all my life, I consider English my first language and Mandarin as my second. My cantonese is limited to diplomatic pleasantries, "choi!", "sek fan", "yam shoi" etc....

Since my A levels, I have hardly ever spoken a word of Mandarin!
 
9V-SVE
Posts: 1953
Joined: Mon Nov 12, 2001 7:51 pm

RE: English In Hong Kong!

Fri Apr 19, 2002 10:57 pm

for me, its the other way around. I'm poor at Chinese, good at English.
 
vywh
Posts: 278
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2002 6:37 pm

RE: English In Hong Kong!

Fri Apr 19, 2002 11:01 pm

As a native Hong Kong student,I would say that the English standard of Hong Kongers is declining.I'm sorry to point it out,however.

Of course,there're many of them who can handle English well.They have no problem in both speaking and writing.But the younger generation,however,proves that Hong Kong is no longer an international city in which people are really good at English.Can you believe that some of them can't recite 26 English words?Can you believe that people even have difficulties in handling the basic grammar?But that's the case.

Nevertheless,there're many of them who are good at it.Anyway,"thanks" to our education system!Without you,we wouldn't have been in this situation:a city where people even don't know what kind of language they are good at!!

I apologise if my opinion is biased.
 
Banco
Posts: 14343
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RE: English In Hong Kong!

Fri Apr 19, 2002 11:13 pm

Vywh, Genuine question: Do you blame the British for not insisting on English being taught?
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
 
hkg82
Posts: 1301
Joined: Fri Apr 05, 2002 4:24 pm

RE: English In Hong Kong!

Fri Apr 19, 2002 11:49 pm

Yes, English in Hong Kong is terrible and it's apparently deteriorating even further. I don't think it's that bad though. Personally, it really doesn't bother me much, I'm used to it. The locals don't like to learn another language, except maybe for Putonghua (Mandarin) because of the increasing integration with the Mainland, but they at least they can speak a little bit.

You can make your way around Hong Kong without knowing Cantonese pretty easily I think. This is unlike in Japan where you need to know Japanese. I think another reason is the Government's policy implementation. They reverted to the 'mother-tongue' education & language policy in 1998, a year after the handover, for obvious political reasons. Why else would they brag about Hong Kong being an 'international city' or "Asia's world city" and have the local education taught in Cantonese? PLEASE! I think they've changed now to a system whereby the schools can choose between which language they want to teach in, but I'm not sure.

Hkg82.
 
hkg82
Posts: 1301
Joined: Fri Apr 05, 2002 4:24 pm

RE: English In Hong Kong!

Fri Apr 19, 2002 11:56 pm

You can also tell by some of the Hong Kong Chinese members here that their English, is, well, not upto standard :P (sorry I hope I didn't offend anyone!)

The standard of English in Singapore is very high. That's because the medium of instruction in the schools are all in English, whereas here it isn't.

Hkg82.
 
docpepz
Posts: 1706
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RE: English In Hong Kong!

Fri Apr 19, 2002 11:57 pm

When the British were in Singapore, there were schools which taught in English medium and schools that taught in Chinese medium. The former consisted of mainly mission schools whose students sat for Cambridge and Senior Cambridge exams. (equivalent to today's O and A levels)

When the British left, Chinese-medium schools were scrapped and the entire national education system started using English as the language of instruction, while making it compulsory for all students to take the Cambridge O level exams when they're 16, and A level exams when they're 18. However, Cambridge does set specific papers for centres in Singapore since studying the monetary policy in England for the past 50 years will be of little relevance to us!

(See? We're more British than the British. Even things like caning and detention without trial are all British legacies! Perhaps we should never have merged with Malaysia and retained you guys as our colonial masters. Since Lee Kuan Yew has never hid his love and admiration for England. And people here follow English football religiously, as if they're in England.)

I am grateful that all the students in this country have the opportunity to obtain an internationally recognised Cambridge certificate when they finish high school.
 
docpepz
Posts: 1706
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RE: English In Hong Kong!

Sat Apr 20, 2002 12:00 am

Hkg82: you didn't offend anyone but I beg to differ.....

The standard of English of most if not all the Hong Kongers who frequent this forum is excellent!
 
hkg82
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RE: English In Hong Kong!

Sat Apr 20, 2002 12:10 am

But I guess for students it's a different thing: they're taught in school in Chinese. Once they venture into the business world, they would probably start picking up some English. But if the overall standard in Hong Kong is to improve, then they must do a lot more to promote learning English at an early age and perhaps even reform the entire system. But I don't see that happening. I think the locals here would prefer not to learn anyway. It's really no big deal if you think about it.

Hkg82.
 
n949wp
Posts: 1398
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RE: English In Hong Kong!

Sat Apr 20, 2002 12:46 am

Hkg82,

I think there're still plenty of people who values a good foundation in the English language. Why else do you think those English-medium schools here in HK become such hot property!!  Smile

'949
 
hkg82
Posts: 1301
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RE: English In Hong Kong!

Sat Apr 20, 2002 12:56 am

N949WP, that's true, many international schools are now very popular with local families, and they're opting to send their children there. The Chinese population of Island School (part of the ESF-English Schools Foundation, a Hong Kong-based British organisation) for example, which I went to & finished last year, has shot up like anything!! But it all comes down to whether they really want to learn English or not I think.

Hkg82.
 
GDB
Posts: 12652
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RE: English In Hong Kong!

Sat Apr 20, 2002 1:24 am

I've been to HKG twice, on my first visit in 1993 HK Police who spoke English had a red flash on the shoulder of their uniform.
But what surprised me both times was often talking to HK girls, 100% oriental with perfect English accents and names that died out in the UK in the first half of the 20th century, such as Doris and Mabel!
Guess that's colonial legacy.
 
n949wp
Posts: 1398
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RE: English In Hong Kong!

Sat Apr 20, 2002 1:30 am

I think the key is actually to get enough exposure to the language. Once you have that, you don't really have to "learn" the language per se -- you'll just pick it up naturally; and the younger you are, the easier. In my case, for 4 out of 6 years of primary school, I got westerners for English teachers. In addition, almost everything was taught in English during those years except for Chinese, art, music, plus a few other side subjects. I guess those early exposure is what did it for me, more so than any structured curriculum in English classes.

'949
 
n949wp
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RE: English In Hong Kong!

Sat Apr 20, 2002 1:33 am

Err......my last response was for Hkg82.
 
Airbus A3XX
Posts: 479
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RE: English In Hong Kong!

Sat Apr 20, 2002 1:45 am

I do agree that most students in Hong Kong got bad standard of English(I can only regard mine as average) and I believe the major reason would be the education system.

Before the 'mother-tongue' education & language policy was executed by the government, most high schools in Hong Kong used English as their medium of instruction for all subjects, though most primary school used Chinese. When students get into high school, all lessons are taught in English, while their standard is not really good, hence making them discouraged and would eventually loss interest in learning English. As a result, thier standard of English would not improve and hence the very low standard of English. (I know that since some of my classmates' standard of English can be regarded as very poor! It is nearly impossible to understand any English sentences written by them! Even though they are already in Form 6!)

Another reason I suggest would be the nature of the society. Unlike Singapore, the population is made up of people from everywhere and English is the common language. One needs to use English everyday and this is acutally a good practice. However, in Hong Kong, there is nearly no need to speak English after your lessons, hence they would have no practice and they could not learn.

Just my HK 0.0002 cents.
 
D-AIGW
Posts: 258
Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2001 4:57 pm

RE: English In Hong Kong!

Sat Apr 20, 2002 2:19 am

Docpepz - If they didn't have a good command of English they would not have understood what we're all talking about in this forum, and hence would not frequently visit it. On the other hand, as N949WP has suggested, users frequenting this forum are exposed more to the language and are therefore capable in the language.
 
carmy
Posts: 590
Joined: Sat Oct 06, 2001 12:00 am

RE: English In Hong Kong!

Sat Apr 20, 2002 3:19 am

Well I don't know why it seems so necessary for Hong Kong people to have an excellent command of the English language. Unlike Singapore where we have a very multi-racial society, Hong Kong is largely monocultural and thus have absolutely no need for a foreign (read: Anglo-Saxon) language to communicate. Same thing goes for Japan as well, a largely mono-cultural society, and thus absolutely no need to implement English as their new mother tongue to keep up with the modern (or is it Anglo-Saxon) world.

The fact remains that the British have never really bothered about the educational systems in the colonies. The policy of tolerance towards the cultures of their colonies have meant that the colonies have always been free to implement their own educational systems, and one that is most suitable for them. In Singapore for example, Chinese-medium schools were all the vogue when the British were still our colonial masters. This was largely because Chinese Singaporeans then maintained strong links with China, and regarded China as their eventual homeland. The British set up English-medium schools, but every subject had a choice of whether or not he wanted to attend an English school.

It is precisely because of this kinda self-determination educational system which explains for HK's seemingly lacklustre performance in the English language. The fact is, coupled with the nonchalance of the British masters and the lack of a need for a foreign language, English simply hasn't caught on. It certainly is no disadvantage, as Japan and Hong Kong can both attest to. Both important cities in their own right, and both don't have the most excellent command of the English language.

As a Singaporean who is fiercely proud of my country, Hong Kong today is far superior to Singapore in terms of its sense of culture. And this can be partly attributed to the use of Cantonese, which allows them to retain much of their Chinese heritage and culture. Singapore today is like a bastard, a nobody's child caught between the East and the West.

We suck in the English language, and we suck in the Chinese language. Much of our Asian heritage has been destroyed, and whatever is left remaining have ben turned into beautifully commercialised buildings. All we want to be is to be an exact replica of the West, which Singapore is not and can never be. Our own indigenous culture, like the Straits Chinese, the five-foot ways, have all been demolished in favour of glossy buildings. A recent survey in Singapore showed that almost 20%(if I remember correctly) didn't want to be Chinese. Of course, the very next day all the big shots immediately started to condemn our young people for having no sense of culture. And they don't realise that they are the very people who have created this anti-Asian phenomenon.

Hong Kong however, has been able to retain so much of its indigenous culture. The streets still remind any visitor and all Hong Kong people that this is Asia, and the languages and the sights and the sounds make sure they never forget that. So really, Singapore, despite all our sucesses can learn a thing or two from Hong Kong. It is a sucessful city, a large financial centre, one of Asia's largest airports, one of the World's busiest seaports, but still they can retain their uniquely Asian outlook, never bastardising their own culture.
 
hkg82
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RE: English In Hong Kong!

Sat Apr 20, 2002 5:01 am

Very well said Carmy. I agree fully. That's why in school & in the business world, the locals here can speak both Cantonese & a bit of English (of course some better than others), but when they go home they speak in Cantonese. It's as simple as that. I don't think you'll see a Chinese family speaking together at home in English!! But they realise that it is the language of business - for the most part in Hong Kong - so they try & learn. Obviously it's not just the history & heritage that has made Hong Kong into what it is today, it has a lot to do with the government and Hong Kong's open way of life, unlike in Singapore, but that's slowly changing too  Smile

Hkg82.
 
vywh
Posts: 278
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2002 6:37 pm

RE: English In Hong Kong!

Sat Apr 20, 2002 9:21 am

Well Banco,I don't think we can blame the British government,but of coruse,she should bear some responsibilities.

The target we are blaming should be the Education Department in Hong Kong.They advocated some so-called mother-tongue learning a few years ago but they've just changed their mind to some messy system.What on earth does that mean??

Now people in HK neither good at English nor Chinese.What a pity!!
 
9V-SVA
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RE: English In Hong Kong!

Sat Apr 20, 2002 1:04 pm

Having been to Hong Kong, I have heard the standard of English spoken there, and I can understand most of it.

I'm not saying my spoken English is horrible, but I can understand what they say. Also, if I don't know what they are saying, I can ask them to say it in Cantonese, which I am pretty fluent in.

9V-SVA
9V-SVA | B772ER
 
Pacific
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RE: English In Hong Kong!

Sat Apr 20, 2002 9:43 pm

Hi Hkg82, I'm a Year 13 student in Island School!

The english standard in HK varies from place to place. I do not know the local system as IS is a school under the British system. My classmate, fluent in spoken english (and has taken GCSE English) still found the HKALE Use of English Exam very hard due to the question formats.

I've lived in Japan for 5 years and still go back once a couple of years. I cannot understand what they are saying! The english tourist announcement at the Hakone Ropeway was impossible! Look at http://www.engrish.com

General English standards in HK can be considered "poor" in HK but still much better than Japan. There are plenty of people in HK who can speak understandable english but they are outnumbered by those who cannot. People mentioned that us HK users have excellent english. If anyone didn't, would they post replies to stuff they can't understand?  Smile Poor english does exist in HK. This was on a notice on a HK minibus:

"We are installed Octopus System in all of the bus for your most convenience. The system will launch on 29 April 2001. Please pay the fare when you aboard to avoid any inconvenience caused."

Funny thing was that, I typed it in on MS Word and there was nothing wrong with the grammar or so it claimed!

Pacific
 
hkg82
Posts: 1301
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RE: English In Hong Kong!

Sun Apr 21, 2002 12:01 am

Pacific:
I had a feeling there would be someone studying in Island School here on airliners.net! What House are you in? I was in Flemming  Big thumbs up
 
User avatar
BNE
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RE: English In Hong Kong!

Sun Apr 21, 2002 12:51 pm

After a slow start this post has been a good read, obviously the multicultural aspect of Singapore has led to most citizens being able to read and understand English while in Hong Kong 90% of Chinese origin all speaking Cantonese there is not such a need to understand English. I admire all users on this site for their good use of English.

Singapore is a place I have visited and I was surprised at the amount of English everybody spoke. Hong Kong is a place I would like to visit in the near future and it will be good to see the differences in the 2 places.

I am wondering though that with the popularity of Microsoft products that maybe the world be speaking English as advised by Microsoft and this could have a big influence on the way English is spoken around the world. I have often changed a sentence structure because Microsoft didn't like what I had written.
Why fly non stop when you can connect
 
Airbus_A340
Posts: 1439
Joined: Sat Mar 11, 2000 8:41 pm

RE: English In Hong Kong!

Sun Apr 21, 2002 3:30 pm

I'm from Shatin College, also an ESF school in Hong Kong!  Smile

The English in Hong Kong, will hopefully improve. I had the chance to go see how children in Chinese schools are taught English, and I can tell you where people pick up their bad English from- The teachers themselves:
For example the alphabet.
'A, B, C, D, E eh-fu, gee, ah-chu, i, j, k, ello, em, n, o p, q are-lo, s, t u, v, dubbow-you, ex-see, y, ee-zed."

Put those all together when you're trying to say things...the teaching of English in the non-English schools in Hong Kong has much to be desired.

Trevor
People. They make an airline. www.cathaypacific.com
 
Pacific
Posts: 1043
Joined: Fri Mar 10, 2000 2:46 pm

RE: English In Hong Kong!

Sun Apr 21, 2002 3:53 pm

Another ESF!

Yeah, A340 I agree that that's the typical pronounciation which HK people have when reciting the alphabet. I wonder why the teachers protested when the govt proposed a benchmark english test for the teachers? In theory, there should have been no whining as the teachers should have had full confidence of passing. A sign that the teachers know that they're not proficient enough, a great pity in my point of view.

Hkg82, I'm in Rutherford. Guess what, some idiots messed up the common room real bad this year. We're locked out and there's HK$ 80,000 worth of damage.
Did you know Eric Hodges in 13R last year?

Pacific
 
docpepz
Posts: 1706
Joined: Thu May 24, 2001 8:20 pm

RE: English In Hong Kong!

Sun Apr 21, 2002 3:59 pm

Thanks a lot, all you guys, Hong Kongers, Singaporeans, Australians, Americans, Britons etc...
for responding to this post and having a fruitful discussion. I was rather apprehensive at first 'cos the first three people who replied (who were, ironically, not Hong Kong residents) were just about crucifying me for what I wrote!

(To the point that I actually suggested deletion but hey, the administrators didn't delete it... hehe)
 
Airbus_A340
Posts: 1439
Joined: Sat Mar 11, 2000 8:41 pm

RE: English In Hong Kong!

Sun Apr 21, 2002 5:11 pm

Definatly.

Pacific, I know a few people in Island School, well year 12. Do you have ICQ?

I really hope Hong Kong's English improves...
Trevor
People. They make an airline. www.cathaypacific.com
 
n949wp
Posts: 1398
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2000 3:45 pm

RE: English In Hong Kong!

Mon Apr 22, 2002 12:11 am

Well fortunately (for my sake), not all local schools taught screwball English! Big grin

'949
 
hkg82
Posts: 1301
Joined: Fri Apr 05, 2002 4:24 pm

RE: English In Hong Kong!

Mon Apr 22, 2002 12:48 am

Docpepz:
No problem! And thank you for starting an interesting, controversial (at least here in Hong Kong) topic about the standards of English in Hong Kong.

Pacific:
What exactly did they do to the common room?! Because $80,000 is A LOT of money, especially for the common rooms!! Looks like Island School hasn't changed much  Big thumbs up

I've heard of Eric by name, but didn't know him personally.

Do you have ICQ? If you want, add me to your list, who knows, maybe we've spoken before in school!! My ICQ no. 1316122.

Thanks,
Hkg82.
 
Pacific
Posts: 1043
Joined: Fri Mar 10, 2000 2:46 pm

RE: English In Hong Kong!

Mon Apr 22, 2002 12:39 pm

Hkg82, A340 I'm at school now so I'll do the ICQ sometime later. I don't want to put my number down here.
BTW '82, there's only 2 guys with dark skin in your old class. Are you the one always in 562 or the other one?
I'll talk about the damage in the common room someplace else. It's shocking.

Pacific

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