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Flunking English At All Levels

To no one’s surprise, it was just announced that 2000 or over 12% of English Language teachers have failed their certification tests. They have had 3 years to prepare and are allowed to take the test multiple times but now the final deadline is approaching and many of those teaching English will either have to leave or teach something else.

The problem isn’t so much reading and writing as it is listening and speaking. I have previously written about the decline in English Language skills in Hong Kong in an article on comprehension and in another posting on the difficulty of making oneself understood. These problems arise even in situations where the person is in a position where English Language skills are required.

The pressure on the schools to teach both English and Putonghua (Mandarin) is intensifying. I have no idea what the solution is but I do know that in the short term the problem will get worse as teachers leave the classroom because they failed the tests.

The usual bureaucratic response will not get the job done. The last time they tried to upgrade English instruction using native speakers, it took so long to process the applications that 80% of the accepted candidates had already found something else by the time the offers went out.

I hope for Hong Kong’s sake as a financial, commercial and tourist center that things don’t get worse.